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Western Libraries Goes (Mostly) Fine-Free

Posted on: October 18, 2021

Topic(s): Updates

Western Libraries Goes (Mostly) Fine-Free

The Western Libraries is no longer charging overdue fines for most WWU library materials. All existing overdue fines have been waived, although patrons may still owe other fees, including charges for lost or damaged items. Western now joins the 100+ libraries across the country who have already made this change, including the Seattle Public Library, Bellingham Public Library, and the Whatcom County Library System.

Why get rid of overdue fines?

  • Overdue fines aren’t effective. Other library systems have stopped charging overdue fines and experienced little to no impact on return rates. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that library users who owe fines may feel uncomfortable returning to the library--and Western Libraries believes that no one should feel discouraged from using library collections and services because of accumulated fines. We believe that getting rid of overdue fines will increase the use of the library, particularly among those who can’t afford to pay fines.
  • Overdue fines aren’t a significant revenue. In the past ten years, revenue from overdue fines has declined steadily. At the same time, collecting overdue fines takes significant organizational investment. The Ontario Library Association published an infographic estimating that it costs libraries about $6 to collect $5 in fines. Similarly, the San Diego Public Library reported spending over $1M to collect just $675,000 in fines.
  • Overdue fines aren’t equitable. Fines disproportionately impact low-income library users. For example, in San Diego a city study revealed that “nearly half of the library's patrons whose accounts were blocked as a result of late fees lived in two of the city's poorest neighborhoods.” The same was true in Chicago, where “it wasn't that Chicagoans in poorer areas were necessarily racking up more fines... but rather, those patrons were unable to pay the overdue balances.” These disparities are so widespread that in 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution designating library fines a form of social inequity. The Western Libraries wants everyone in our community to have equitable access to our programs, services, and collections. Eliminating overdue fines on the majority of WWU materials is one step toward creating a more equitable and just library.

What are the statistics?

  • Before accumulated fines were waived on September 22, 2021, approximately 5,942 patron accounts had accumulated charges. 1,546 accounts had accrued charges high enough to block the patron from borrowing new materials.
  • After fines were waived, about 763 blocked patrons became eligible to fully utilize the library again. The remainder have other charges (such as for lost or damaged items) that must be resolved before they regain full library use.
  • From FY 2009 through FY 2019, revenue from fines and fees dropped by roughly 50 percent. In FY 2019, they represented less than 0.4 percent of funds available to support total library operating expenditures of $7.3M.

What does this mean for you?

  • As of September 22, 2021, we have cleared any overdue fines you currently owe from your account. (You may still owe other fees, including lost item charges.)
  • You will no longer be charged a daily fine for most overdue items. A few categories of item will still accrue fines, including course reserves, recalled items, Summit books, and interlibrary loans (ILL). We will also continue to charge lost item fees of $90 for items more than 60 days overdue. These fees are forgiven once the item in question has been returned or replaced. For a full listing of library loan periods, overdue fines, and other fees, review our Western Libraries Loans, Fines, & Fees Schedule.
  • You are still responsible for returning your items on time. We do want all items back, and other people may be waiting for them. If you haven’t returned an item within 60 days of the due date, it will be registered as “lost” and you will be billed a $90 lost item fee. Borrowing privileges will be suspended until you return the item, replace it with a new copy, or pay the lost item fee.
  • To help you remember to return items on time, we send reminders by email a few days before the due date, and again the day each item is due.
  • Many WWU, Summit, and ILL loans are eligible for renewal if no one else is waiting. Renew materials online, email the Circulation Desk, or call (360) 650-3084 during open hours for assistance. Please return items that you can’t renew and place a new hold to check them out again.

Read more: Western Libraries Goes (Mostly) Fine-Free


New Exhibit - "Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels"

Posted on: September 30, 2021

Topic(s): Updates, Exhibits

New Exhibit - "Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels"

Black-and-white illustration of a skeleton or spirit sauntering happily through space, From Frans Masereel’s My Book of Hours, published in 1919

Western Libraries Heritage Resources is hosting a new exhibition which explores storytelling through pictorial narratives. “Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels,” will be on display in the library and online from September 22, 2021, through June 10, 2022.  

The exhibit is free and open to the public and is available for viewing in person at Western Washington University Libraries Special Collections (Wilson 6th floor) during the hours that space is open, Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed weekends and holidays). The online version of the exhibit can be accessed at any time via this link. All campus visitors must continue to wear a mask when inside Western Libraries or any campus building on Western’s campus, and also when outside in crowded outdoor areas.   

“Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels,” explores the complex relationship between power, knowledge, and silence, and reflects on how wordless books inform our understanding of communication more broadly. Featuring materials from the Rare Book Collection in Western Libraries Special Collections, the exhibition introduces some of the major themes wordless novels express, while also highlighting their connections to early cinema. Wordless novels, a genre of visual storytelling that paved the way for today’s graphic novels, developed during the years of artistic, social, and political turmoil between the First and Second World War. For in-person exhibit attendees, there will also be a selection of underground comix on display in the adjoining Special Collections research room where viewers can trace wordless novels’ influences in the 1960s and beyond. 

For more information about this exhibit, or if you would like to inquire about the possibility of scheduling a class visit to view the exhibit, please contact Special Collections Librarian Michael Taylor, taylo213@wwu.edu, (360) 650-3097. 

[Image Information: Black-and-white illustration of a skeleton or spirit sauntering happily through space, illustration from Frans Masereel’s My Book of Hours, published in 1919]


Read more: New Exhibit - "Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels"


Events Hosted in Western Libraries - Event Reservation Request Information

Posted on: September 24, 2021

Topic(s): Updates, Events

Events Hosted in Western Libraries - Event Reservation Request Information

Western Libraries is not accepting reservation requests for events hosted in library spaces at this time.

This applies to event reservation requests for events during Fall Quarter 2021, as well as reservation requests for events planned for later in the academic year.

Event reservation requests may reopen in 2022 at a date yet to be determined. This determination will be based on what is deemed feasible given the Libraries’ commitment to meeting the needs of Western students and their prioritized use of library facilities, spaces, rooms, and services. Appropriate processes and guidelines for events management in indoor spaces must also be identified and in place to help protect the health and safety of all building occupants.

If you would like to be notified when the Libraries reopens its events reservation request system, please email Kate.Farmer@wwu.edu to be added to the notification list.


Read more: Events Hosted in Western Libraries - Event Reservation Request Information


Study Spaces on Campus

Posted on: September 23, 2021

Topic(s): Updates

Image of map of Western's main campus with building locations noted via building initials

Western Libraries has a variety of spaces throughout the library buildings for both quiet study and collaborative work. There are ten Study Rooms located in Wilson on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors (Wilson Room #s 377, 373, 374, 375, 376, 370A 477, 470A/ 577, 592), which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The second floor of both Wilson and Haggard are designated as collaborative areas where talking and group work activity is welcome. The 4th and 5th floors of Wilson are designated as areas for quiet study. 

For students who are searching for additional spots outside the library to take their online classes on campus, check out this list of more study spaces on campus.  


Read more: Study Spaces on Campus


Western Libraries Reopening News: Hours, Services, & Reminders

Posted on: September 16, 2021

Topic(s): Updates

Exterior of Haggard Hall building, library entrance

Western Libraries Reopening News: Hours, Services, & Reminders

Western Libraries Haggard and Wilson buildings reopened to the public on September 16, 2021. During open hours, both the Wilson and Haggard sides of the library are accessible via the Haggard Hall library entrance, and the north doors at the Wilson entrance will remain closed for the time being.

The reopening of the library buildings means that HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Services (ETAS) will end this week. HathiTrust ETAS allowed Western Libraries to provide temporary online access to some of the printed materials from library collections, but that access is available only when the library is forced to suddenly close its facilities to patrons because of an emergency, as happened during the onset of the pandemic. Upon reopening of library buildings, temporary online access is no longer available, but the physical copies of those materials can be checked out and borrowed once again.

On-site pickup services have ended, and departmental delivery of requested library materials for faculty and staff will resume on Monday, September 20 for departments with regularly scheduled office hours. (If Campus Mail is more convenient, please contact the Libraries' Resource Access staff at 360-650-3076 to make alternative arrangements.)

Mail delivery of library materials will continue to be available to Western students, staff, and faculty who are unable to come to campus during fall quarter, or who are enrolled in off-campus programs.

Western Libraries hours for fall quarter are: Sundays from noon to 9:00 p.m. / Monday – Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. / Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. / closed on Saturdays. 

The Hacherl Research & Writing Studio will open on the first day of classes, Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 24, 2021. Beginning Sunday, September 26, 2021, the Studio hours will be Sundays 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. / Mondays - Thursdays 10:00 a.m.  to 9:00 p.m. / Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Likewise, the Tutoring Center will open on the first day of classes, Wednesday, September 22, 2021, with fall quarter hours as follows: Sundays 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. / Mondays - Thursdays 10:00 a.m.  to 9:00 p.m. / Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Western Libraries Heritage Resources reopens on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and more information about their specific hours can be found on their website.

The Study Rooms  located in Wilson no longer require reservations and will be available for student use on a first-come, first-served basis. The rooms are located on floors 3, 4, and 5 in Wilson Room #s 377, 373, 374, 375, 376, 370A 477, 470A, 577, 592. For additional study space options on campus, please see this list.

In keeping with Western Washington University’s health and safety requirements, all individuals must be masked at all times when indoors. This includes when inside library facilities, other indoor public spaces on Western's campus, and WWU transportation.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact LibraryCommunications@wwu.edu


Read more: Western Libraries Reopening News: Hours, Services, & Reminders


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