Surprised by recalls

You wrote:

During my 3 years as a Concordia University student I have often made use of the many services provided at the Webster library and have had nothing but good experiences. Unfortunately this semester I have had to deal with something that, till now, I did not know was even a possibility: Recalls.

Like many other students, I have final assignments to write and have taken out a number of books from the library which I need in order to complete those assignments. Apparently it is possible for another student to recall a book which has already been borrowed by another which forces it to be returned without possibility of renewal; I have had the misfortune of being in possession of a book that has been recalled. Here is my dilemma, I borrowed this
book because I need it to write a final paper which is due Monday, December 10, I did not take it out for leisurely reading, and if it had been the case I would have had no problem returning it by the due date. In my
case, I have not been able to return it since I am using it and will be until my paper has been completed, in the meantime I am being charged $1 a day in late fees and by the time I can return in I will need to pay a total of $20. Is this really fair to me?

I think it has happened to everyone at least once where the book they intended to borrow has already been taken out. What most people do when faced with that situation is move on to find another book. Never have I had the
audacity to force them to return it so I can use it instead, logically if it has been borrowed (especially in the context of a school library) it is because they need it. Finals are stressful enough without having to worry about escalating library fees (not to mention suspended library privileges) for which I really cannot do anything about. This assignment in question is one of the many I am currently working on so before it is mentioned let me specify that it is impossible for me to complete it by the due date of my book rather than the due date of the assignment itself.

Joanna Duy, Head, Access Services, Vanier Library replied:

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to let us know of your concerns with our recall system. One of the biggest challenges in devising library circulation policies is how to balance the needs of individuals who are currently using a book with the needs of others who may also need the same book. We think that it’s reasonable to guarantee every user two weeks with the book they need – so when you check out a book (unless it’s a reserve item) you are guaranteed 14 days with that book. Even if it is recalled, you won’t have to return it until after your 14 days are over. This kind of recall system and/or not allowing renewals on books that have been requested by other users is standard practice in many academic libraries.

Despite our best efforts, however, we know that 14 days may not always be enough time to read the book or complete a paper, especially when several other assignments are due at the same time. One option I could suggest is to check and see if the item is available in another Montreal-area university library, and if it is, you could obtain a CREPUQ borrowing card and go and borrow it from the other library for 14 days (when you’re finished, you can return it at Concordia). For more information on this, see:

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts on this issue. Your feedback and suggestions are always helpful in shaping our policies.

3 thoughts on “Surprised by recalls

  1. Anonymous

    While I can definitely understand how it can be stressful to work on assignments (as this is not a unique experience), I think it’s a bit unfair to say it would be ‘audacious’ to expect someone to return a book if it is needed by someone else. This is a public library where we all share the resources. I find this jealous guarding of books “in case they might need it” kind of selfish, as by hoarding it to reduce your own stress, you are contributing to someone else’s- logical, no? At the risk of stating the obvious, the option of photocopying relevant chapters and then returning the book would make everyone’s lives a bit more manageable 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    I found this student’s own audacity too precious for words. As a longtime Concordia member (2006 alumna and 2013 hopeful graduate), I’ve been around and witnessed a lot of initiatives. I applaud the library administration and staff for constantly making library resources accessible and for embracing new ventures. I do, however, take great issue with the continuing issue with excessive noise and inconsiderate behaviour of fellow students that the library personnel have still not managed to resolve.

    As for the student whose words written above (the letter, not the comment) indicate, there is no shortage of arrogance, self-entitlement, and individualistic behaviours in the message. I’m in a field that consists of solely research and writing and I appreciate the fact that the books I have been proactive enough to borrow may and will be recalled.

    My tip? Borrow these titles from other universities! I often head to McGill University and use my CREPUQ card to the most. Often, books that are on reserve at Concordia (prof’s democratic decision to make the resources available to everyone), are available as regular loans at McGill University.

    Be nice and play well with others.

    Best of luck in your studies,

  3. Anonymous

    I have had books recalled, and although it did make me scramble, I appreciate that someone else needed it too. I hurried up, focused on getting what I needed from that book, copying where needed, and I brought it back. Since a book for a paper does not need to be read cover to cover, it seems a little rude to say that you need to keep it for a very long time.

    please remember that the papers you are writing are due at the same time as those of other students, and, because we are several people in the same departments, often have papers on the same topic, we often need the same book! Imagine how many people need the same Marshall McLuhan book at the end of each semester!

    Someday they will be digital, and we won’t need to share, until then, 14 days is very generous. If you need it longer, maybe you can get a used copy off of Amazon… or check out the municipal libraries.

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