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Warwick accumulates almost £250,000 in library fines over past five years

The University of Warwick has accumulated almost £250,000 in library fines over the past five academic years.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by The Boar has revealed that in the past five academic years from 1 October 2015 until 31 March 2020, the University has made £244,150 in library fines that have been paid by staff, students and external borrowers.

The Library received its highest fine revenue in the 2015/16 academic year, when it made £80,371. This figure halved to £42,195 paid in library fines in 2018/19.

The Library received its lowest fine revenue in the 2019/20 academic year, up to 31 March, when it made £16,682. The coronavirus pandemic could account for the lower number, compared to other academic years.

The FoI request revealed that £55,995 and £48,907 worth of fines were paid back in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years respectively.

The University has said that income generated from fines is reinvested into the University Library.

The FoI request also revealed that £335,839 has been accrued in fines on library accounts since 2015/16. This figure also decreased over the five academic years, when the highest value accrued on accounts was in 2015/16 at £94,561.

Over the past five years, £50,869 worth of library fines were unpaid

Fines accrued on accounts decreased by 31% over four years from 2015/16 until 2018/19.

Over the five year period, £50,869 worth of library fines were unpaid. Unpaid fines increased by 229% over the four year period from 2015/16 until 2018/19. In 2015/16, £4,587 worth of fines were unpaid. This increased to £15,080 in 2018/19.

£72,203 was invoiced in total over the past five years for the non-return of books. The charges invoiced include costs to replace books and a £15 administrative charge per book. The FoI request said that if a borrower returns a book after receiving an invoice, the invoice is credited.

As of March 2020, the three largest amounts accrued in library fines on any customer account totalled £702. The account with the largest amount of library fines totalled £246.40. The other two accounts accrued £245 and £210.80 in library fines respectively.

The FoI request stated: “These fines may have been accrued at any point during these individuals’ time at the University.

“It is possible these fines may be waived due to extenuating circumstances in line with the library’s fines policy.”

The fine for a standard loan is 20p per day, 30p per day for a 3 day loan and £1 per hour for short loan collection.

£335,839 has been accrued in fines on library accounts since 2015/16

If an account’s fines are in excess of £10, users are not able to renew, reserve or borrow items.

Library fines have stayed the same since they were increased at Warwick in 2009.

When the University Library closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, a fines amnesty was introduced. According to the Library website, this is set to continue but may be subject to change.

For 2020 finalists who were unable to return borrowed books, the University is providing a freepost service. It is available to students based in the UK who have finished their course.

The Library reopened on 5 October and is open everyday from 8.30am to midnight. 550 mostly individual study spaces are available, with some collaborative seating for social-distanced group work.

The Learning Grids in Rootes, University House and in Leamington are all open.

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