Answered By: William Gee Last Updated: Dec 16, 2021 Views: 24
The Libraries charge overdue fines when high-demand materials, including equipment, course reserve titles, and some other materials, are returned past their due dates. The fine is intended to encourage the return of materials on time so that equitable and timely access to these materials can be provided to the most students, staff, and faculty as possible. The Libraries gladly provide many resources for you and we are not looking to make money from you forgetting to return something borrowed from the library by its due date -- we just need library materials back in a timely manner so that others can use them, too!
To avoid overdue fines, you need to return materials by their due date. Materials that accrue overdue fines usually cannot be renewed remotely – you’ll need to return them to the Libraries. If you are not sure when something is due, you may ask a service desk, refer to the checkout receipt email you received, or check your library My Account online.
Once a library item has been overdue (7 days for equipment, course reserves, and similar high-demand items, and 40 days for other library items), the Libraries must bill for the item as lost. When an item is billed as lost, a processing fee in addition to the replacement cost will be added to offset the library’s costs. If you still have the item, you may return it when you are first billed for it to have the replacement cost and processing fee cancelled, although any applicable overdue fees will be charged.
As a state institution, the ECU Libraries are governed by state institution debt collection laws and ECU Financial Services’ rules for how we must collect for library materials that are not returned by their due date. There are many details to the debt collection process, but below is a summary.
- When you checkout an item from the Libraries, you will be sent an email listing your checked out items with their due dates. The email will be sent to the email account the Libraries have on record for you, usually your ECU email account, so be sure to be checking that account frequently for emails from the Libraries and the rest of ECU.
- For items that circulate for longer than a day, you will be sent a courtesy notice email two days before an item is due back.
- After the due date has passed, you will be emailed overdue notices for a few days.
- Items will be billed as lost if they are not returned within 40 days for most library items and within 7 days for equipment, course reserves, and similar high-demand items. The replacement cost is based on current market prices to replace the item with a like or similar item from the Libraries’ regular vendors. When billed as lost, a processing fee will be added to offset the cost incurred by the library in addition to the replacement cost.
- Billing notices will then start to be emailed. If items are not returned or paid for within 10 days, the next steps vary by patron type.
- For ECU students, the debt is then transferred to their university account in the Cashier’s Office. Payment must then be made to the Cashier’s Office. The processing fee is not refundable once transferred to the Cashier’s Office, even if the item is returned.
- For currently employed ECU faculty and ECU staff, debt collection letters will be sent, then ECU Human Resources will be informed of the unpaid debt. Payment must be made to the ECU Libraries.
- For public school teachers and other state employees, debt collection letters will be sent, then their respective human resources departments will be contacted. Payment must be made to the ECU Libraries.
- For other library borrowers, debt collection letters will be sent, then unpaid debt will be submitted to the NC Attorney General’s Office, NC Department of Revenue, and then private debt collection agencies. Payment must be made to the ECU Libraries or to the private debt collection agencies.
- The state requires monthly interest fees and a one-time 10% penalty fee to be charged during these billing steps. Once charged, these charges must be paid, even if an item is accepted back as returned.
Returns, Refunds, and Reversals
If you return a library item that has been billed as lost within 30 days of it being billed, the Libraries will accept it back and cancel the charges; however, the Libraries will charge an overdue fee, if applicable for that item type. After this time, the Libraries will be moving forward with ordering a replacement and will not be able to accept back the billed as lost item.
If the lost item charges have been transferred to the Cashier’s Office or if you have paid for a lost item at the Libraries, and then return the item to the Libraries within 30 days of the transfer/payment, the Libraries can reverse/refund the replacement lost charge, but not any processing fee, interest, or penalty fee.
The Libraries generally do not accept replacement copies provided by patrons in place of paying the replacement charge. If you find the exact item for sale for much less than you have been billed for it, please discuss this with the Libraries.
The employees of the ECU Libraries are happy to serve you and look forward to doing so. If you have any questions about overdue fines and the lost billing process, please let us know. Please also contact the Libraries at any time to request renewals, ask questions about your items or bills, pay your bills, ask us to search for a title you think you have already returned it (we call that a “claims returned”), or file an appeal of any fines or fees that you think should be considered because of circumstances an exception.