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The Mass Media

Healey Library eliminates overdue fines and creates Instagram account

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The sixth floor of the Healey Library on the UMass Boston Campus.

As the new semester rolls in, Healey Library has announced some important updates to its services. Healey Library will no longer charge overdue fines on books that are returned late, and they have also created an Instagram account to highlight the library’s services and staff. 

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the library had not been charging overdue fines. However, according to Healey Library Desks Service Manager Ann Marie Shafer, there’s a broader reason for the library’s decision to eliminate them altogether.

“There is an ongoing trend in public libraries to start waiving these sorts of things and eliminating overdue fines, because it can be an accessibility issue,” said Shafer. “The American Library Association has brought [it] up to really encourage libraries to consider what they’re doing as far as monetary fines, and whether or not that’s potentially interfering with people’s access and whether or not an institution is usable.”

According to Shafer, all regular overdue fines are being eliminated, however, students and staff will still be charged for certain overdue items. These include lost books, reserve items that have a three hour loan limit set on them, and 24-hour Chromebooks.

“If there is a reason why someone is unable to routinely return something within 24 hours for a Chromebook, we also have the semester-long Chromebooks that we can loan to them instead,” added Shafer.

When asked how the elimination of fines would benefit the UMass Boston community, Shafer replied: “We want to reduce barriers as much as possible, so this is a potential monetary barrier that we’re deliberately doing away with via our policy. So, I’m hoping that that also will engender a sense of community—that this is something that we’re doing to encourage community usage and lessen the burden where it’s not really necessary anyway.”

The library’s new Instagram page was also started as an indirect result of COVID-19, as during the lockdown, the library’s social media presence died down. However, Shafer stressed why social media is important to the library more now than ever.

“A lot more people are using resources virtually now because of remote learning and everything,” said Shafer. “So we’re looking at this, as seeing it as an avenue [for] us to reach out and connect with the undergraduate body, because especially with construction going on, our physical location isn’t as physically accessible by the average patron.”

The Instagram page, which can be found @healeylibraryumb, will highlight the library’s staff and services, as well as promote certain materials at specific times in the year.

“There are certain services that we’ve started, and because of the interruption in communication and the typical lifestyle at UMass Boston, some people are just not aware of all the changes that we’ve made, and this is a way for us to reach out in a different way,” said Shafer.

Such changes include modifications to the library’s current curbside pickup system. Whereas before, patrons could pick up library items during specific hours, now they can make appointments through Microsoft Bookings six days out of the week for curbside pickup. 

Another update to the library is the Beacon Book Swap Spot.

“What we’re going to do is have a shelf where we have free resources [and] free books that people can take,” said Shafer. “If they want to leave some, they can take some. It’s essentially the same concept that you would think of for a little free library, but we want to make sure that people understand that this library is already free, so the separation there is that this is a swap spot—not that someone necessarily needs to bring a book in order to take a book, but basically a bookshelf of take a penny, leave a penny.”

For more information about the Healey Library, visit: https://www.umb.edu/library