The library announced a new fines program that eliminates “nuisance” fines, reduces expensive fines and accepts food pantry donations in place of fines.
Brenda Cummings, director of public services at the Brandeis library, described the four parts to the new fines program. In part one of the program, the library has eliminated what they call “nuisance fines,” which are small 25 cent per day charges on overdue items from the library’s general collection, which includes anything in the main stacks, such as DVDs and CDs.
These items go out for the extended semester and don’t contribute to the library’s revenue in any significant way. Cummings said, “We don’t want to be a place that’s punitive.” The library still charges fines on recall or high demand if someone’s really looking for it. But if no one is looking for the book, it’s not important if it’s a day or two late.
Part two of the program is the reduction of overdue fines on equipment the library loans out, like laptops, chargers and other electronics. As the library’s equipment inventory has grown and more students rely on the equipment, the fines grew in consequence of students taking advantage of the system. Fines crept up to $5 and $10 per hour.
Most fines for adapters, cables, and calculators were lowered to 25 or 50 cents per hour, from the original fines of either $5 or $10. Most fines for computers (which include a fine for the charger) were lowered from $10 per hour to $4.
Part three of the program has to do with amnesty waivers. Amnesty waivers are given to students who request a waiver for fines for whatever reason. Students could only use the waiver once a year, but now the waivers are available once a semester.
Brandeis also introduced a new Food for Fines program. This program allows students to pay off their fines by donating non-perishable food or hygiene items to the library for Brandeis’ campus food pantry.
“A lot of libraries do it during the holiday seasons, but this is going to be an everyday thing for us [at Brandeis],” said Cummings.
The food pantry is located in Kutz 102 and is accessible to any Brandeis community member in need from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Each donation counts as $5 towards the payment of overdue fines.
Also important to note is that while students cannot donate their meal swipes to pay off their fees, they can donate meal swipes to the pantry. The volunteer-based food pantry is set to be fully open for the Brandeis community in early November. The Food for Fines program is in a trial period. Those interested in volunteering at the pantry should contact Steven Weglinski or Elaine Wong.