Library institutes new policies for fines, payment methods
The Brandeis Library recently announced four changes regarding borrowing and fines: the new Food for Fines program, general collection, equipment fines and amnesty waivers.
The Food for Fines program is the result of a partnership between the Library and the Brandeis Food Pantry that strives to provide students with access to healthy food options and “raise awareness about resources that are available both at Brandeis and within the greater Waltham community,” according to the Food Pantry’s website.
With the Food for Fines program, community members can pay their overdue fines by donating hygiene items or non-perishable food. Each donation erases five dollars of library fines. The program does not apply to SAGE fines and replacement item fees, according to the Food for Fines website.
In an interview with the Justice, Brenda Cummings, director of Public Services at Brandeis Library, said, “We’ve wanted to do a Food for Fines program for a while now. The problem with doing Food for Fines before this was managing how to get [food] donations [to] off-campus [locations].”
Cummmings continued, “We were holding off on launching [the program] because the Food Pantry wasn’t launching, but the Food Pantry wasn’t getting any food, so they needed us to launch.”
“A lot of libraries do Food for Fines during the holiday season,” Cummings explained. “We really wanted Food for Fines to be a year-long thing. With Brandeis being a school of social justice and the recent health and wellness survey coming back with a statistic [that] like 27 percent of students have insecurity about where their food is coming from, this is important.”
General collection items include materials from the stacks, media, storage, and recreational reading collection, according to the Brandeis Library website. In the past, returning these items late incurred a 25 cent fee, which has since been removed and been replaced with the Food for Fines Program. “We don’t want to be a place of punitive fines,” Cummings said.
The Library has also changed its policies on circulating equipment such as chargers, laptops or calculators. Cummings explained, “We’ve had a long battle with equipment fines because it’s balancing having things available for people and ensuring people are not abusing the system.”
A fee chart that Cummings provided to the Justice highlights the changes made in the equipment fine policy. A large change is a reduction from $5.00 per hour overdue to $0.50 per hour overdue for adapters, cables and chargers. Another example is the change from the $5.00/hour fine to $0.25/hour for calculators and headsets.
The Library has also implemented a new amnesty model. Previously, the Library permitted borrowers one fine waiver for the entirety of their time at Brandeis. Now, members of the Brandeis community can claim one waiver per semester.
Cummings said the revised fines policies were shared with the Student Union and that Union President Hannah Brown ’19 gave feedback. The policies were also reviewed by the Office of the Provost because they affected University revenue brought in by fine payments. According to Cummings, all changes were accepted as originally proposed.