What’s the point of library fines?

UK“Cambridge University has just announced a dramatic decrease in the money paid in library fines at the University Library. The amount paid by students, they say, went down from £27,635 in 2006-7, to £20,503 in 2007-8. This is said to be ‘good news’ and the reason is the new automated renewal system: you now get an email telling you that the book is about to become overdue and you can renew it online. You don’t even have to set foot in the library. That still didn’t stop some eager students of the ancient world being caught out …” (more)

[Mary Beard, A don’s life, 17 April]

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