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  March 4, 2002

Libraries' Extended Loan
Policy to Change in April
By Suzanne Zack

In an effort to make circulating books more readily available to the entire University community, the University Libraries will implement a new loan policy in April that replaces the extended loan policy and requires borrowers to renew books every three months.

The new policy applies to faculty, graduate students, staff, and retirees, at Storrs and the regional campuses. The 30-day loan period for undergraduates will remain the same.

The School of Law and Health Center libraries are not changing their policies, but the new policy will affect law and Health Center faculty, graduate students, staff and retirees who borrow from the main or regional campus libraries.

Under the new loan policy, a book will be due 90 days after it is checked out. Borrowers may then renew the book electronically up to three times (as long as another user has not requested it) before it must be brought back to the library for return or renewal. Under the old extended loan policy, borrowers were required to return or renew books once a year, by the last day of final exams in the spring semester.

"Our liberal extended loan policy has caused sizable parts of subject collections to be missing from shelves for long periods of time because borrowers may not always have assessed whether they really needed all of the materials they had checked out until they were due, or once a year," says Brinley Franklin, director of University Libraries. Although all University borrowers may request return of a book via the recall process, many undergraduate s don't use this service because they are not always aware of it, don't understand it, or because recalling a book takes too long to meet their "just in time" needs.

Franklin says the new loan policy, which staggers return dates, will extend the useful life of library materials and also be more accommodating for library users and staff. "Under the current extended loan policy, all materials have to be physically returned each May and that causes unnecessary burdens on users and library staff, as they try to deal with mountains of books being returned at one time," he says. "Many books have been damaged in the process.

"We believe the new policy will not only enhance circulation services for the entire community, but will also bring us into line with our goals of providing maximum access to circulating materials," Franklin adds.

To make it as easy as possible to comply with the new policy, borrowers will be notified by e-mail two weeks prior to the date books are due, to allow time for them either to electronically renew the books or to return them. Borrowers can renew books electronically from anywhere in the world, and do not need to have the books in hand to do it.

The recall policy will also be strengthened, by increasing the recall fine rate from $1 to $5 a day and by raising the maximum recall fine from $15 to $50. At the same time, daily overdue fines will be eliminated and a $15 late return/billing fee instituted for book that are more than 28 days overdue.

"Our intention in changing the extended loan policy is to ensure that all books are on the shelf and available if they are not being used," says Nancy Orth, director of library access services. "Our hope is that borrowers will evaluate their need for the books they have checked out more frequently than in the past, and that they will return them if they are no longer needed. As stewards of the library's resources, we want to achieve a more equitable way of sharing them with the entire University community."

Prior to adopting the policy change, staff of University Libraries conducted a thorough review of current practice at research libraries across the nation and an in-depth assessment of optimal service for circulation of library materials. The change was discussed fully with the Chancellor's Library Advisory Committee, which unanimously endorsed the change. The new policy also was presented to the Student Library Advisory Committee, and to the University Senate last spring, as part of the Committee's annual report.

By mid-April, the Libraries will mail current borrowers inventories of the books they have on extended loan, along with detailed information about how the new policy will be implemented. Borrowers are likely to experience little change this spring in the annual return and renewal process.

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