Curing the overdue materials epidemic

By The Mac Weekly

The Nov. 25 issue of the Daily Piper included a notice regarding the excessive number of overdue materials. Many other libraries have threatened to restrict Macalester’s borrowing priviliges because of our inability to return our materials. Terri Fishel, the Library Director, likens the problem to an epidemic and warns that students, faculty and staff with overdue materials must return them by Nov. 30. Faliure to do so will result in suspension of ILL priviliges.Messages from the library notifying students, faculty and staff of their overdue materials contain no mention of specific deadlines nor consequences for a continued failure to return the materials. Due to their lack of substance, the e-mail notifications become repetitive. Recipients eventually begin to ignore the messages just like they do most other e-mails sent by Macalester administrative bodies or organizations. Without any knowledge of any absolute deadlines or the amount of money they will have to pay in late fees, people often fail to take responsibility for returning their overdue materials.

Sending notifications that describe the consequences, such as late fees and suspension of ILL privilidges, will eliminate the current ‘epidemic’ by motivating students to get their overdue materials back to the library. Sending notifications describing the escalating costs that individuals will face would be much more effective than abruptly threatening the suspension of ILL privilidges to those who fail to reutrn their overdue materials.