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Over £50,000 collected by university in library fines

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Amount collected has steadily decreased each year since 2017.

By Anttoni James Numminen

Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen

University of Aberdeen libraries have collected over fifty-thousand pounds worth of library late fees from students and other readers since 2017.

The information, obtained by The Gaudie through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, covers fees from UoA libraries including Sir Duncan Rice, Taylor Law Library, as well as the Foresterhill Medical Library.

The amount collected in late fees, which range from as little as 20p per day to £0.75 per hour for Heavy Demand books, has steadily reduced year on year.

In the 2017/18 academic year, £25,948 was collected in late fees. This was reduced to £18,222 the following year, while in 2019/20 the amount collected was just over six thousand pounds.

The starkest drop has come in the past two academic years, mainly due to Covid-19 and the relaxation of late fee rules. In the 2019/20 academic year, only £512 was collected while as of October this year, nothing had been collected in late fees.

Speaking to The Gaudie, a University of Aberdeen spokeswoman said the University had “very deliberately sought to impose fewer fines over recent years”. The number then dropped to zero during lockdowns as “recalls were suspended and readers were not expected to return material or have to renew items themselves”.

“Since services have returned, fines have been charged where other users have been kept waiting and some outstanding fines recovered, but we remain sympathetic to the difficulties caused by the current situation”, continued the spokesperson.

Despite the relaxation of late fee policies, not all students have been pleased with access to library materials, mainly overdue books and those not available online.

Responding, the University said it was unable to ensure that every book is available in digital form as “some simply don’t exist in that way”, adding that students should “raise this with their tutors” or contact directly.

“Our reading list service is designed to ensure we know which essential books our students need, and our policy is to buy them in ebook form if possible and in print if not. We can also arrange for scanned extracts to be in the Virtual Learning Environment, as long as they are copyright compliant.”


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