Thanks for commenting on the way you perceive our fines for overdue laptops; we need to know that people find the fines steep. Unfortunately, however, there is little chance of these fines being reduced at all in the near future.
We have very limited numbers of laptops to lend in all campus libraries and large demand for them. As you might imagine, when fines are set up for untimely return, it is because the material is not being returned on time (if it was, we would not need to charge fines). We must have some method of impressing on borrowers the importance of using this loaned equipment in a timely fashion and a penalty for non-compliance seems to work better than anything else. If we charged only $5.00 per hour (or part) overdue, or only $10.00, people would think: "Oh, I can afford to pay that for another 30 minutes' use" and be even tardier than they are now. The threat of a $20.00 fine per hour for tardy return has seemed to keep most of those who might be tempted to forget the time on the "straight-and-narrow" path.
Reduction of the rate of this fine would send to borrowers the message that it doesn't cost much to delay return of the borrowed laptop. It would further inconvenience those waiting to get a laptop from our lending programmes and create a disservice to everyone. There has been discussion among staff of raising the fine which we have resisted to this point. I don't believe that your suggestion to reduce the fine for overdue laptops is going to be one we can adopt.
Answered by: Tom Flemming (Head of Public Services, McMaster University Health Sciences Library)