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Oxford library fine figures revealed

Oxford libraries have second highest number of lost books
Paul McClean on Monday 16th January 2012
Photograph: Orchard Lake

Oxford University’s libraries accrued almost £130,000 in library fines last year.

Universities across the country amassed fines totalling £50 million, While Oxford’s takings are significantly more than that of universities such as Imperial College London, who collected just £26,703, they remain some way off the £1.8m amassed by the University of Leeds.

When asked how the money is spent, a spokesperson for the Bodleian Libraries explained, “The money goes into the general library income stream,” adding, “It remains within the libraries but is not directly allocated to any particular purpose.”

The Bodleian’s standardised fining service charges 20p per day for standard overdue loans, £1 per day for short loans and 50p per hour for overnight loans. Students with debts exceeding £10 may not borrow again until the debt is cleared.

The findings also revealed that Oxford has the second highest number of missing books across all UK universities, with a total of 20,923 books currently unaccounted for.

Mike Heaney, Executive Secretary of the Bodleian libraries, defended the number of missing books, explaining, “Oxford appears among the top simply because the overall numbers of items in the libraries is so huge (13 million).' He said, “The figure represents 0.15% of stock (i.e. 99.85% is present and correct).

“Oxford is in the good position of having most of its stock recorded in the online catalogue and so the status (on shelf, missing etc.) is known.' He added that most books classed as “missing” were not in fact stolen or unreturned, but instead “simply misplaced on the shelves.”

Hannah Cusworth, the OUSU Vice President and Access and Academic Affairs Officer, praised the figures, stating, “Oxford's libraries are fantastic and as the figures provided by the Bod show we're doing well compared to other universities, both in terms of the sheer number of books we have and the rate that are missing.” In response to the statistics regarding fines, she argued that, “Library fines are annoying but they encourage people to return books on time and [anyone] who has ever searched across Oxford to find that key book for an essay knows how important that is.”

First year, Roseanna Allnut, suggested that “only persistent offenders should be fined”, and that the Bodleian should consider offering a “pizza delivery service straight to library desks” in order to increase studying in their libraries.

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