Beginning this semester, Library and Information Services (LBIS) is altering its return policy: Whereas students previously had to renew their books either in-person or online, LBIS will now renew overdue books automatically, up to a certain limit.
The change is due in part to a recent update to Consort, the software the library uses to organize its catalog. The software now allows for automatic renewal of checkout items: Students will get a notice within three days of their item’s due date, and if the item is still not returned by the deadline, it will be renewed automatically. Checkout periods are three weeks, and most items can be renewed up to six times, which is nearly the length of one semester.
“We felt it was a benefit to our patrons,” Manager of Access Services Joan Nielson said. “If you’re on a break, a lot of times we would see overdues, because, well, you’re on break. You’re not thinking about renewing your books. And now it will automatically save you fines, [and] save us from having to do the work of processing the fines. So I think it’s a win-win all the way around.”
The student body has responded positively to this change. While many students said they didn’t use the library often enough for the changes to be relevant, students who had received fines in the past were relieved that the new policy would be more forgiving.
“There were a couple times I got fined,” Jonathan Hernandez ’21 said. “The worst was during break — if you didn’t turn [a book] in, they charged you for all the days you missed.”
While he believes the changes will help students, he worries that an auto-renewal system will disincentivize students to keep track of their books. “You already see books lying around that people don’t return,” he said. “Selfishly, I like [the new policy], but systematically I think it’s not the best.”
While the new policy applies to most items, it does not apply to laptops, chargers or other electronic equipment. Because students often reserve such items, it is crucial that they are returned on time, according to Nielson.
“Most people are okay about it, but there can be issues if something doesn’t get back,” Nielson said.
Items that have been reserved by a professor for use in a course, which can include books and DVDs, will also not auto-renew.