The great library cash cow: Over £100,000 in a year racked up by Cambridge’s biggest libraries

Students are terrified of the draconian penalties for late and lost books.

Books Corpus emma fine Fitz jesus late Library lost penalty Queens' Seely Library Tit Hall UL university University Library

Information sought by The Tab through Freedom of Information requests reveals the exorbitant amount of money extracted from forgetful Cantabs.

In the 2014-15 financial year the University and Affiliated Libraries have collected a shocking £104,892.21 in library fines for late and lost books.

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Total fines collected by the University and Affiliated Libraries

The UL collected the most fines with a staggering £40,527.06, followed by the 8 Arts and Humanities Affiliated Libraries with a combined total of £ 33,349.87.

Next was the 11 Humanities and Social Sciences Affiliated Libraries with more than £25 000 and finally the two Sciences Affiliated Libraries which collected just over £5 800 in fines.

The  UL slugged one student with a £263 penalty, the largest single fine given by any library in the last year. The highest fine given by Arts and Humanities Libraries was £188.74, while the Sciences Affiliated Libraries (2 libraries) took £84 in one fine.

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The largest single fine given by the University and Affiliated Libraries

Although colleges are cashing in on late library books, the total penalties claimed are nothing like those claimed by the University Libraries.

In 2014 Fitz, Jesus and Corpus imposed penalties between zero and £600 while Robinson, Peterhouse and Selwyn had a significant number of colleges had fines amounting to around £1, 143.

Other colleges collected significantly larger totals. Queens and Emma collected a total just shy of £2,000. Clare’s penalties reached £2,484 over the Lent, Easter and Michaelmas terms of 2014. Tit Hall topped the list with £2,846 in penalties for late and lost library books.

Fines given out by colleges also vary wildly by term. Four times as many fines were given out by Emma in Easter 2014 (£1,019) as in Michaelmas (£252).

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Exam term stress = £££

Students The Tab spoke to exhibited a slightly disturbing level of fear about library fines.

“I have some books from the Haddon that I borrowed in week one and haven’t returned. I want to find out how much the fine is but I’m worried if I ask they won’t let me leave,” said one.

Another said “I also have books from Haddon since before Christmas and I’m just going to avoid it until I graduate.”

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Just not paying fines is an oddly common approach.

However, some report that confronting your library fines problems may be a better solution than avoiding them and hoping they go away.

“I lost three Seeley books. Possibly in Sweden. Possibly in Australia. Possibly in England. (Yes, I read books and am incredibly well-travelled.) I was horrified to get a £90 fine for losing them. Which is probably fair enough, but still. They did however commute it to £60 and it remains the closest thing to a Random Act of Kindness I have experienced since at least Michaelmas” said a particularly pretentious and cosmopolitan student.

There is definitely no general life lesson to be learnt from that.