By Harry Webster
New figures have revealed the staggering amount of money collected by the University in library fines in the 2015/16 academic year, raising concerns among students as to what their money has been being spent on.
In the year beginning on the first day of term in September 2015, Cardiff’s libraries received over £170,000 in fines, with around £145,000 of that figure being attributed to undergraduate and postgraduate students alone.
The figure – which excludes money paid to replace lost or stolen items – has been vaguely said to go towards information resources, such as the purchasing of new books and journal subscriptions.
One third year English Literature student, Harry Borg, recalled being hit with a £28 fine, after failing to renew his books over the Christmas period last year. Speaking to Gair Rhydd, Mr. Borg said, “I was shocked at the amount of money being attributed to my account. I use the library service to save money in not paying for books.
“Being an English student, some of modules are very large, and often there aren’t enough copies of the text books I need in the library. I therefore find it had to believe that money collected in fines in being fully reinvested in the libraries resources.”
By contrast, Isabella Nicholson, a third-year journalism student, said she “didn’t mind” being hit by library fines – citing the subsidised access to online journals as being extremely helpful to her degree.
“For the majority of my essays is made up of research published in online journals – which cost a fortune to subscribe to individually. As long as I know my money is going to the maintenance of such services, I don’t mind fines.”
The University has however adopted a new management system for its library services in the last year, with fines now only being awarded when an item is overdue after being requested by another student
The new ‘ALMA’ system also automatically renews books, and allows students to return their books to any of the University’s libraries; two functions that the University argues has led to a “dramatic” decrease in the number of fines being granted.
The new system has since been praised by some students, with third year politics student, Adam George, telling Gair Rhydd: “The new library system is much better -the automatic renewal system is fantastic, but more importantly, the request system has paid dividends for me doing my dissertation.
“I’m able to get the very specific subject books I need on time.”
Speaking of the change brought about by the new library system, Mo Hanafy, Vice President Education, Students’ Union said, “It’s really positive to see that the new fines system has had such a positive impact on students. There really seems to be a recurring pattern that the libraries team and the elected officers do such great work when they come together. Fantastic news.”
Meanwhile Tracey Stanley of the University Library Service said, “The University Library Service has introduced an automatic renewals service for items out on loan, from August 2016. Most items will usually renew automatically, providing there is no reservation on the item.
We’d ultimately like to achieve zero fines, with all requested books being returned on time.”