FOI reveals DCU students paid thousands in fines to the university’s library this year

By Fionnuala Walsh

DCU students have paid over €50,000 in fines to DCU library in 2016, the highest rate since 2013, according to a Freedom of Information request obtained by The College View.

Students paid €54,186.65 in library book fines last year, seeing a rise of €5,000 from the previous year 2015, in which students paid €49,045.41.

This is the highest rate since 2013 when fees paid by students amounted to €54,340.90.

In total over the last five years, the library has collected €268,732.90 from DCU students due to overdue books.

Shauna McDermott, Public Services Manager at DCU library said of the fees “we think they’re necessary” and adds that the low fees in DCU library have stayed static for a long time. The fees taken in from students go straight back into the upkeep of the books and obtaining new resources.

According to a previous FOI request, the library is owed €73,501.89 from students due to fines on late material.

This figure was the highest of all in three of Dublin’s universities, with the total of approximately €140,000. Trinity College students owed €58,503.05, while UCD students owed €11,363.29.

Despite the fact that DCU’s students owe their library the highest of the three universities, DCU has received the lowest amount in library fines from students in the last three years, with €157,572 received since 2014.

Library funding and resources have been put under strain recently since the Incorporation. According to the library, they get 1.2 million visits per year between the O’Reilly Library on Glasnevin Campus and the Cregan library on St. Patrick’s Campus.

“Bear in mind that fines are used to ensure as much as possible that books are returned promptly for the benefit of other library users. This is especially important at key times such as exams,” McDermott told the College View in February.

They do not think of fines as taking money from students, rather they are a reminder to return books for other students who need them, and all money received goes back into funding library services, according to McDermott.

Some of the most common fines that students are caught out on are on short loan books for 48 or 3 hours per loan. These charge 50c per hour they are overdue, compared to main lending books which fine 50c per day.

Borrowing restrictions are also imposed if there are fine charges over €10 on your account or where a fine of any amount has been on your account for over a month.

Despite students owing the library over €73,000, the library recently announced 24-hour access to resources during exam period across both campuses, coming into effect from May the 2nd to the 19th.

McDermott recommends that students check the website for supports and queries about library fines, renewals and recalls.

Fionnuala Walsh

Image: William Dunne