Emerson Library eliminates fines and fees

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Blain McVey reached out to the library in his role as comptroller of the Student Government Association to help spark the change.

Before 2022, if a Webster University student returned a library book late, they would have a fine. Not anymore. 

Webster senior Blain McVey suggested this to the Emerson Library on the Webster Groves campus and they listened. 

Katie Erbs, an alumna of Webster University, works at the front desk in the Emerson Library. The library is dropping fines for late books to complement the experience. Photo by Cas Waigand.

Communications and Outreach Librarian Sarah Reando released a statement that outlined the new policy. This means that students who check out a book from the library won’t pay a fee if they forget to return it by a certain date. It also means that students don’t have to worry about getting library materials back by a certain date because there will be an automatic extension on books unless there is a hold. 

“We will trial this fines-free policy throughout 2022, and after a year we’ll assess if we can continue it going forward,” Reando wrote in the statement.

What this means for students; an opportunity to get materials from the library without the stress of returning them by a certain time. 

McVey, who reached out to the university library as the comptroller of the Student Government Association, mentioned the issues fees cause for students to the library.  This started the whole process. 

“I was looking at Twitter where I saw an alumni posting about not being able to sign up for classes because their library fees were stopping them,” McVey said. 

Reando pointed out that other major libraries are discontinuing late fees. These libraries include the St. Louis Public Library and the St. Louis County Library. 

“The American Library Association encourages elimination of fines, and in 2019 issued a statement which notes that fines create ‘a barrier to the provision of library and information services’ and ‘urges libraries to scrutinize their practices of imposing fines on library patrons and actively move towards eliminating them,’” Reando wrote in the statement.

Even though the library is eliminating fees for its own material, the statement. It also noted that students will still be held accountable for losing or damaging any library material. MOBIUS materials are also excluded from the new policy.

MOBIUS is a platform that connects libraries in Missouri and surrounding states. With a system like MOBIUS, Webster Students can find books from other colleges that may have a book that Webster doesn’t have. 

Reando’s statement highlighted that library staff hopes dropping fines will help students. McVey mentioned how friendly and willing the staff of the library is to help. 

McVey doesn’t want to stop there; one of his tentative plans for the upcoming semester is getting K95 masks to all students. 

The Emerson Library is open and available for all students to rent books, DVDs and other resources needed to be successful in their courses. 

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