Libraries to Extend Loan Periods, Eliminate Standard Late Fees

Harvard libraries will no longer charge 50 cent per day fees on overdue books.

The change, one of several detailed in a post on the Harvard Library system’s website, went into effect on April 1. Though standard fees have been eliminated, fees for overdue recalled material have been raised from two dollars a day to three dollars a day, with a 45 dollar maximum.

“The goals of these changes are to improve the student experience and embrace a ‘One Harvard’ approach for borrowing material across Harvard Library,” wrote Steven Beardsley, Harvard's associate director for access services administrative operations and special projects, in an email.

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Harvard's libraries eliminated standard fees and raised fees for overdue recalled material from two dollars a day to three dollars a day.
“We have witnessed firsthand the stress that overdue fines can cause for students,” Beardsley continued. “Eliminating standard overdue fines and standardizing loan periods across Harvard’s libraries should help students focus on their scholarship, rather than worrying about renewing library books every 28 days in order to avoid fines.”

Andrés M. López-Garrido ’18 praised the library system’s decision, noting his own history of incurring stiff fines for overdue books.

“I had over 100 dollars in overdue fines for books I checked out last summer for a research project, and I completely forgot to return them,” said López-Garrido. “I flipped out when I found out, but luckily I was given a waiver.”

Others are a bit more wary about how students will use this new freedom.

“I am interested to see how many books make it back to the library,” said Jad Maayah ‘20.

Beardsley wrote that he hopes the new approach will cause students to focus more on their work.

“We expect that this will allow students to devote more time to their research and coursework,” he wrote.

The library system also announced the institution of semester-long loan periods for Harvard affiliates.

“Undergraduates are now able to check out regular loan items at all Harvard libraries for a semester, eliminating the need to renew books every twenty-eight days from Lamont, for example,” Beardsley said.

—Staff Writer Sahar Omer can be reached at smomer@college.harvard.edu.

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