Students say library recall system not ‘fair’

Students are complaining about the library's unadvertised policy of recalling items, which states that if an item has been requested and already checked out, a recall notice will be issued (Natalia Pylypyszyn/The Daily Campus).

Students are complaining about the library's unadvertised policy of recalling items, which states that if an item has been requested and already checked out, a recall notice will be issued (Natalia Pylypyszyn/The Daily Campus).

Students at the University of Connecticut have voiced complaints about the library’s unadvertised policy of recalling items.

“Whoever has (an item) should be able to have it until the due date,” Alexa Walcher, a first-semester allied health sciences major, said. “I don’t think it’s fair, because it’s first come first serve.”  

The library’s policy is, if someone requests an item that has already been checked out, the library will issue a recall notice according to its website.

The notification email reads: “The following item(s) you have checked out are needed by another patron and should be returned to your UConn Library by the new due date shown below.”

The patron then has 10 days to return the recalled item(s) or he/she must pay a $5 fine per day.

“If I was in the middle of using (an item when it was recalled), I probably wouldn’t be very happy about it if I wasn’t able to finish what I was doing in 10 days,” Ryan Dulaney, a first-semester environmental science major, said.  

The Homer Babbidge Library Head of Communications and Engagement, Jean Nelson, said one of the primary goals of the library is to provide access to the resources it has.

“This is a fairly standard policy throughout academic libraries (that) allows us to continue to provide access to materials for all our users, a critical component of our mission,” Nelson said.

When a student checks out an item from the library, nowhere on the email or printed checkout receipt does it notify them of the recall policy.

“People should know (about the recall policy) if they check out a book, so they can plan out the possibility of not having it as long as they’d like,” Dulaney said.

Nelson said she would consider changing this to inform students their item may be recalled before the printed due date.

“It would be helpful to know, I imagine,” Nelson said. “There’s value in knowing that.”

Nelson said the library’s extended loan periods creates a need for a recall system.

“We have very generous loan periods, so someone could have a book for (up to three semesters) …that’s a long time,” Nelson said. “So, somebody (who) needs that resource…could conceivably graduate before you get it.”  

Nelson said the library tries to work with multiple parties who want the same resource since the library does not have the budget resources necessary to have multiple copies of each item.

“It’s case by case, we’ll do whatever we can,” Nelson said. “But ultimately, the policy stands, it will go to the person asking for it to be recalled.”

Nelson said while problems with recalls do not happen frequently, the library will help patrons photocopy sections they need, get the item on a shorter interlibrary loan or work as a go-between for the two patrons who need the item to work out another arrangement based on their needs.

“I think for somebody to recall a book, they must really need it, because nobody really wants to do that. And certainly, if the person on the other end really needs it, we’ll find a way,” Nelson said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone gets the information they need.”  

Nelson said the library is always willing to help patrons get the resources they need.

“We don’t live in a vacuum, so we’re willing to work with folks if it really becomes a problem. We understand that both parties need (the item) otherwise they wouldn’t (have recalled it),” Nelson said.


Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.