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Open Letter to Readers at Academic Library

27.03.2018

Lately, a rather surprising theme has emerged – readers at the library seem not to understand that borrowing books is lending with all of its commitments and liabilities. On the other hand, we are often looking for books users have taken out of the library… without registering.

The task of all libraries, including ours, is to collect books and textbooks, register them, conserve them, and make them available to the public. We buy thousands of Euros worth of books, catalogue them and offer the chance to borrow them or at least use them on-site. Our reading halls and depositories hold many books that there are one or two of in the entire country. Have you thought about the privileges our readers have – they get to read extremely rare works in paper?

Lending books is also a privilege. Many libraries in the world do not let users borrow that many books at a time, which means students and researchers spend hours at libraries. Borrowing books is a lending procedure: the reader is given library property for temporary use. Why then do many have the opinion that due dates and fines are only meant to bully them, and once a book is in a user’s house, it is theirs to keep? People are much more obedient when they lend money from a bank, probably because of the larger fines.

A lender has to know the liabilities that come with the lending, and also ensure they have no overdue loans. The library has always given their maximum when it comes to informing the users about its rules, but it is up to the reader to keep an eye on the due dates. This is the point where we at the library start to think that perhaps we have been too lenient toward our readers.

Another extremely large problem is the stealing of books. It is a harsh term, but it is the only one good enough to describe what is going on. How else do you explain it when users walk into a library, grab a book from the reading hall shelf, and just walk out using emergency exits? People smuggle books out of doors with ‘no entry’ signs, open the locks on locked exits, and even throw books out of windows. It may seem funny at first, but the humour is long lost on us. Do people think that when the professor advises them to ‘grab a book from the library’, they mean it literally?

We have gone through lengths to make the sign-up, sign-out, and the deadline extension processes as simple as possible. The E-catalogue ESTER lets you do it all for free anywhere you can get online. We are always open for questions, you can write or call us. Not all libraries offer the chance to borrow up to 20 books at a time with a 30 day due date on most of them. We are sad that despite all this, the users have no respect toward the library.

We give our all to be the best we can be, but we are starting to feel abused. This letter may seem overly emotional, but these negative feelings have taken over after all of the incidents mentioned above. Even though these negative events are clearly a minority next to all fun and respectful readers, they ruin our days enough to have made us write this letter.