Wits  University  Library is  asking students  to return to its shelves more than 35 000  overdue books  out on loan. 

The management of the Wits library has launched a ‘‘Bring Back Our Books’’ campaign aimed at retrieving as many overdue books as possible without questions being asked or fines being levied. 

It raised concerns on twitter addressing the issue of more than 35 000 overdue books on loan to library  users. The campaign  was launched on May 1, 2021. 

“This matter is quite concerning as there are a lot of books outstanding,” said Sinalo Sithole, a  third-year film and television  student. “It is not guaranteed that all books will be retrieved.” 

Library asks students to bring back outstanding books. Photo: Supplied

Most of  the books outstanding were issued before the country went into  level five lockdown on March 26, 2020. As a result, many students failed to return books as campuses were closed and later, they were reluctant to work in the library due to covid-19 fears and social distancing regulations.   

“Students could not come onto campus, especially in cases where they could continue to work remotely,’’ Janet Zambri, library senior manager, told Wits Vuvuzela.

Wits University has 11 library branches dedicated to different fields of study. Library management has arranged for boxes to be placed at each branch, by which students can return books if they are reluctant to return them to library staff in person.

Senior library manager Charl Roberts said, “In a case where students are outside the province or located in a different city, they may contact the specific library branch and a case-by-case solution will be considered.”

When books are dropped off, library staff follow covid-19 safety protocols strictly on all of them before they are packed back onto shelves. This includes disinfecting the books. Only then may other students check them out. 

Throughout all branches, one library management system is used, managed by a senior librarian at each branch. The  system digitally records all books loaned out, noting the name of the individual who has borrowed each book and the book’s specific title and unique index number. 

If any of the library branches is confronted by the dilemma of books not being returned, the system in its entirety is jeopardised, causing disadvantage to all the libraries.  

Customarily, fines are imposed on students who return loaned books after the due date stamped on the book. Depending  on the category of  loan, fines can be charged per day or per hour. 

When  a student does not meet the responsibility of paying his or her fine, it can immediately delay registration and examination processes, in accordance with the code of  conduct for library use. 

Wits Vuvuzelaasked for details of the  list of overdue books on record to be shared, but library senior management  declined the request as they wish to respect the privacy of students. 

The campaign is set to end on July 31, 2021. Should the campaign not resolve the issue, library management will revert to its standard procedure of levying fines for books returned late.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits library shelves reflect outstanding books. Photo: Supplied