MISSOULA – Stressing about that overdue book? Don’t worry: The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana has eliminated most overdue library fines.
Beginning this semester, UM students and employees will no longer be charged overdue fines on most books and media. In addition, general item checkout for undergraduate students has been lengthened from three weeks to four months, matching the loan period for graduate students.
“The fees created a potential barrier for students,” said Megan Stark, UM undergraduate services librarian. “We know that access to library resources is critical to student success, so in the interest of increasing their success, we committed to eliminating this barrier.”
Based on student requests, the library recently engaged in an analysis and discussion of library fines. The 2019 American Library Association’s “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequality” was used as a guide. The resolution included the following language, which resonated with UM library personnel committed to student success and retention:
- Fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services.
- Mounting evidence indicates that eliminating fines increases library card adoption and library usage.
- Fines create a barrier in public relations and absorb valuable staff time applying, collecting and managing dues.
“At this point in time, it is not a radical idea to eliminate library overdue fines on most items checked out,” said Barry Brown, UM’s interim library dean. “We’re confident that the goodwill generated and the positive impact on student success will outweigh any decline in revenue.”
Library users can renew general items online anytime by logging into their My Library Account at https://www.lib.umt.edu/services/library-accounts.php.
Stark cautioned that some specialized items such as course reserve materials or laptop computers will continue to generate overdue fines.
Learn more about library services at https://www.lib.umt.edu/.