Libraries Double Reserve Fines to 2 Cents a Minute

Procrastination-prone Harvardians just got another reminder, courtesy of the Harvard College Library (HCL), that their vice will not be tolerated in the libraries any time soon. The next last-minute dash to Lamont to take out that never-purchased coursepack better not run over the mandated borrowing limits for on-reserve items, lest the violator fall victim to the recent 100 percent hike in per-minute fines.

On Feb. 1, all reserve-holding libraries—Cabot, Fine Arts, Fung, Harvard-Yenching, Lamont, Littauer, Loeb Music, Tozzer, and the Quad—upped the penalty for late items from one cent per minute to two cents per minute.

While the general reaction seemed to be one of dismissal, or mild surprise followed by dismissal, the doubling of the penalty was not taken so lightly by all.

“That’s horrible,” said one junior in Winthrop House, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from HCL. “I thought we could hold [reserve items] overnight. I got a fine for like, eight dollars....It was sad. How gluttonous.”

Attempts to draw a connection between the penalty increase and the financial troubles at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) were denied by HCL Communications Director Beth Brainard. Calling the libraries a “tub within a tub,” and thus having little direct connection with any money problems at FAS, Brainard said the motivation for the increase was simple.

“People were not taking one-cent-a minute seriously,” she said. “This was just a gentle way of trying to get students to return their books.”

Erik P. Garrison ’06, a student employee at Lamont, was able to keep things in perspective. “Of course they don’t want to pay it, but they’re using the library,” he said. “That’s how all libraries support themselves; through fines. It’s not a book club.”