By Adina Bruce, Features Editor
During the week of October 11-17 YU Libraries ran a program titled the “Library Raffle & Fine Forgiveness Week.” Students who visited the library were able to enter a raffle by correctly answering quiz questions on the library. In addition, any overdue books returned during the week had the fines associated with them forgiven.
After a year and a half of the campus facing restrictions caused by COVID-19, the libraries hoped to utilize this program as a way of introducing new students to YU’s libraries, as well as welcome back old students who might not have been to campus for a while. Jay Rosen, Public Services and User Experience Librarian of the Pollack library, shared with the YU Observer, “Our libraries are some of YU’s most active social and intellectual hubs, and we look forward to seeing returning students and welcoming new ones!”
Furthermore the library hoped to use this incentive as a way to promote returning overdue books, especially ones that might not have been returned since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jay explained, “because of the pandemic, many students haven’t been able to visit us to return books or other library materials. Getting some of these materials back will ensure that other students and faculty can use them.” Further explaining that they wanted to encourage students to have a positive association with the library “we’re hoping to offer a “clean slate” for students to help them feel more comfortable using our libraries again. We know it’s been a very difficult 18 or so months and we’re not here to punish anyone; we just want our stuff back!”
The library did not say how many books were returned during the week of the program but Jay did disclose that “we did get quite a few books back during our fine forgiveness week and waived a significant amount of overdue book fines.”
Students were able to enter into a raffle to win a $100 gift card by filling out a quiz available by QR code at the front desks of the Pollack, Mendel Gottesman and Heidi Steinberg Libraries. The library reported that they got over 50 entries to the survey.
The fine forgiveness program took place a week after several large public libraries around the country announced they would be getting rid of fines. As of October 5, 2021 the New York Public Library (NYPL) announced that they would be getting rid of late fines as well as clearing all old fines. “Research shows that fines are not effective in ensuring book returns … unfortunately, fines are quite effective at preventing our most vulnerable communities from using our branches, services, and books” explained Tony Marx, President of the NYPL. Going on to say “as New York grapples with the inequities laid bare by the pandemic, it is all the more urgent that we ensure the public library is open and freely available to all.”
Reflecting on the success of the program Jay concluded “this is the first time we ran a fine forgiveness program, and look forward to increasing participation in future events.”