The borrower of record is responsible for the safe and timely return of library material. Notification of overdue or lost material is a service provided by the library. Failure to receive a notice does not free the borrower of responsibilities (this includes all library user types, including Calvin faculty and staff).
An item is declared lost 45 days after the due date. A $50 fine, composed of a non-refundable $5 overdue fine and a $45 lost book fine, will accrue for each item lost ($15 fine is charged for Recreational Reading items.) The borrower will not be allowed to check out books until the fine is cleared. For students, the lost book fine is transferred to student accounts maintained by Calvin’s Financial Services. After the fine is removed from the borrower's library account, they will again have unrestricted use of the library.
During the 45 days between the due date and the date when an item is declared lost, the borrower will receive three overdue notices - one day before the due date, four days after the due date, and 45 days after the due date at which time the item is declared lost. During this time, the circulation manager will make special effort to locate the item. The manager will also contact the borrower at least once after the 45 day period either by phone, e-mail, or regular mail. Failure in reaching patrons does not exempt the borrower from responsibilities outlined in this policy.
The borrower has the right to claim an item was returned. However, this claim must be made before or at the time the item is declared lost. The item will be given a “claims return” status and the borrower will be granted a waiver for 6 months. During that period, the borrower will be able to check out additional items. Extra effort will be made during this time to locate the item. If the item is found in the library, the borrower will be contacted immediately. If it is not found within the 6 month time frame, the status of the item will revert to “lost,” and the $50 lost book fee will be placed on the borrower's account.
If the borrower finds the item and still returns within 6 months after paying the lost book fine, they can be reimbursed $45, minus the $5 overdue fine. If the library finds the item after a borrower has paid the lost book fine, a reimbursement will be granted, without expiration.
The library's "Lost Book" fee is a flat $50. This fee is not dependent on the type of item, its popularity, or replacement cost: Borrowers who have lost library items cannot negotiate their worth and the fee to be paid based on any of these factors.
In most cases, $50 does not cover the replacement cost. According to the Library and Book Trade Almanac (2017), the average book replacement costs $50.58 for paperback and $93.83 for hardcover academic. This is because replacement costs must include the purchase price as well as the time to process. Librarians, support staff, and students are all involved in searching for the original item, identifying and ordering a replacement, creating cataloging records, sending the material to third-party service for binding, other preparation to place the book on the shelf, and sometimes, when an exact match cannot be found, locating a suitable alternative. So even when the cost of material is small, fees associated with processing a book can be significant. On average, processing costs for paperback range from $16-$21.75 and $9.75-$14.75 for hardcover.
Borrowers who lose library materials must be held responsible for these costs, but the library reserves the right to determine how exactly an item will be replaced: Borrowers may not simply replace the item themselves. There are many issues associated with purchasing a replacement, and library staff are more experienced in making these decisions, knowing where to locate the best purchase price, and will make a final decision based on the best interests of the library.