When the VIU library staff looked at a list of the changes that they had recently made to their policies for making resources available to students, they were impressed—and for good reason. The VIU library staff have been busy, and the experience of using the library is not what it used to be; that’s a good thing. By moving forward to meet the needs of students as technology advances, the VIU library has revisited and revised policies to make their materials and space more accessible to students and faculty alike—it’s a roster of changes that demonstrates their aim to serve the needs of students, to the best of their ability.
Late fees have always been a primary concern for students—sometimes the deciding factor when choosing which resources to use. Overdue items were not cheap. In the past, if a student tried to renew books at 12:01 a.m. after the due date, they would be penalized with $1.50 charge per item. Have four items overdue by a few minutes? That time would cost $6. This was identified to be a significant deterrent against borrowing items from the University library. (Other items, such as DVDs with a single-day loan period, would cost up to a hefty $7 per day in late fees.)
Now, overdue fees on most library items have been eliminated. Instead, the library will send two reminders to a student to return late items. If these reminders are not heeded, the library will block that student’s access to library resources—both remotely and on campus. In librarian Eileen Edmunds’s experience, most overdues are due to honest forgetfulness. More than 50 percent of materials are now online, and Edmunds would like to see the physical material circulate, rather than gather dust.
Loan periods on books have also been extended to four weeks (from two) with three renewals—provided that there are no outstanding requests on the item. If a student requests an item that is checked out, the library will first try to place an interlibrary loan request in order to serve that student quickly—so they don’t have to wait four weeks for another student to return the item. This will allow more students to have longer and easier access to all materials. Additionally, DVDs and videos now have a two week loan period (with no renewals), as opposed to the previous overnight loan restriction. There is no longer a limit on the number of CDs that can be borrowed at one time per library card (previously five). Fees do still apply to overdue course reserve items, and replacement costs still apply to lost items.
The revisions do not stop at loan periods and fine policies. All reference and print periodical items have now been interfiled with the general stacks on the fourth floor—and these items, previously restricted to library use only, can now be borrowed. The space that the print periodicals and reference materials used to occupy has been converted to more study and seating space; Edmunds indicates that this is what students want the most when they come to the library—a place to gather for study and group work.
Additional changes include two new medical databases called “Primal Pictures Anatomy & Physiology Online,” and “Primal Pictures Interactive Anatomy.” There is a new bookable study room planned for the fourth floor—the Cedar room. Once the Cedar room is installed, the number of bookable study rooms will total six, and study rooms and audio suites can be booked online at any time. There are two large silent study rooms on the third floor, and an additional quiet study area outside the computer lab on the fifth floor.
The microfiche and microfilm readers have been put away, though not discarded. It will be a long time before all of those records can be fully digitized, and they are still in use.
Students who want one-on-one assistance with studying or instruction for how to utilize the library’s resources can now go online to book appointments with librarians; the library also offers workshops. For a complete schedule, visit the library website. Community borrowers are also welcome to purchase library access to use most library resources (some restrictions on web material), although library fines do still apply to community library cards.
The VIU library has made its resources more accessible so that you, the student, can have the easiest access to resources that they can offer, so check out a book! The pressure’s off, and there’s plenty to explore.