Category Archives: recall

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.

Frustrated with recalls

You wrote:

Dear Concordia University Libraries,

I would like to issue a complaint with your department about your request policy for books that have been checked out. Earlier this month I checked out a few books to conduct research for a seminar class. I ensured that I arrived early to get the best books possible for my essay. Two weeks later, after starting the research, handing in a bibliography including the books that I had taken out from the library, and starting to write the first draft of my essay I was surprised to receive a email from your library stating that I had to return one of the books before the due date as it was requested by another student. I was taken aback, that in the middle of working on a paper a book could be taken from me because another student was too occupied by other things to get there ahead of me to get the book. I proceeded to go to talk to a librarian about how to keep the book, as I was in the middle of reading it and needed it for my paper. They informed me that as I had had it for two weeks any student could request and take the book from me. The librarian then proceeded to tell me to photocopy the parts that were needed. To this I would like to say that 1) I am student who lacks time to sit and photocopy and entire book page by page and 2) I am a student who lacks the funds to photocopy an entire book. To my dismay, I was forced to forfeit the book to the librarian to give to the other student. I was then told to request the book from that student so in two weeks I could receive the book again for my use. I feel that this system is very flawed. You are not only taking books prior to the due date, but prohibiting students from completing assignments that could affect their final grades. My suggestion would be that you are allowed to keep the book for the entire first period of check out but would not be able to renew it.

Thank you for you time, and I will wait for your response to this issue.

Thank you for your message.  This issue has been raised before.  Nobody likes to get those recall notices. It must be especially frustrating when you are in the middle of a project. The system is set up to balance convenience with fairness. Until a few years ago, undergraduate students only had a two-week loan period. Then, for added convenience,the loan was increased to three weeks, with the possibility to have it shortened to two-weeks for high-demand items. Thanks to your email, we will be adding a short note to the date-due slip that you receive each time you borrow an item. The note will reminds users that all items are subject to recall.

Subject to Recall

You wrote:

I am wondering why there is a due date on the books that we borrow that can be recalled by someone else. While I understand that others need to use the same books as I do, but then why have an extended due date at all.

I would also like to inquire as to whom I should talk to in regard to challenging the late payment as I would like to recommend that if it is before the original due date then I  shouldn’t be penalized.

Thanks for your feedback. You ask a valid question and raise an interesting point.  If  I understand correctly, you borrowed a book for 21 days and then successfully renewed it for another 21, only to later receive a notice alerting you that the item had been recalled by another user and that your loan period had been shortened.

Receiving a recall notice like this does sometimes come as a surprise, especially since it doesn’t happen very often.  Our borrowing pages do however spell it out: whether you are an undergraduate student or faculty member, the loan period indicated on your receipt is always subject to recall after the guaranteed period of 14 days.  When you receive an alert, you will be given  at least 4 days to return the item.  After that period, regular late penalties apply.

The possibility of  recalling items before they are due, common to many universities, is part of  the Libraries’ effort to achieve a balance between allowing individual students the possibility of  keeping the material they need as long as possible and offering the entire student body equitable access to our library collection. It is a difficult balance to achieve. Some libraries simply set the default loan period at 14 days;  we hope that the more generous default loan period, coupled with the option to recall, will offer students more flexibility. Thanks again for adding this new thread to our Suggestion Box.