Lost or unreturned texts add up to huge loss

Ashley Hoang, Staff Writer

LibInfo

The school library consistently loses thousands of dollars in books each year and the financial tally is starting to add up.

According to Destiny, Bear Creek High School’s library system that records how many book fees are still unpaid and the number of books still unreturned, rough 1,800 textbooks and books have been lost since 2012 and about $5,500 worth of dues and fees are have gone unpaid.

Lodi Unified School District requires that students pay for lost books as well as all other outstanding fees before they are able to attend certain sports events and dances or even walk at graduation.

Bear Creek High School’s librarian, Candy Byrd, says students do not realize the severity of the consequences for unpaid or unreturned library books until their junior or senior years.

“[Students] are not held responsible until their junior or senior years — mostly their senior year,” Byrd said. “They won’t be able to walk across the stage for graduation or receive their transcripts. But if the students have no need for an off campus pass or graduating, then the dues and fees are not going to affect them as much.”

Despite books — mostly textbooks — being returned daily by students to cover their dues, the total amount of fees unpaid is still astoundingly high. Records of students who already graduated, but who did not receive their diplomas due to unpaid fees, are still included in the recent amount of outstanding fees and unreturned books.
According to Byrd, Bear Creek comes in third out of the four high schools in lost books.

“Many students believe that we have some sort of unlimited supply of books,” Byrd said. “But actually, we do run out of books and when we do, we usually would have to borrow from other schools or else the school board would have to find some way of ordering more for us.”

While reminders and bills are sent out quarterly, the amount of outstanding fees has yet to significantly go down.

“I think we just need more policies for unreturned or late books,” Byrd said. “But it’s not up to us to decide the policies; everything has to be run through and be approved by the school council, leadership team at our school and our school board.”

Byrd says she appreciates the teachers who find ways to encourage students to return their textbooks on time.

“Some teachers offer extra credit if the student turns in their textbook on time, or make turning in books an assignment,” Byrd said. “I think that definitely helps.”

Principal Bill Atterberry says that while consequences need to be exercised, the policies can only do so much.

“We have to be reasonable,” Atterberry said. “Some students can’t afford to pay off all their fees and we would rather have them return the books than pay the fees. In the end we want the books, not their money.”

While the high amount of unpaid fees is mostly the result of students forgetting to return books, a part of it is due to the unpaid fees from students who already graduated years ago or who transferred to different schools without being labeled “inactive” for the library system to exclude their fees.

“Sometimes students don’t even lose their books,” Byrd said. “It’ll just be at home but it’ll still make our system record them as missing — even if they’re just a couple days overdue. A lot of students complain that they do not want to carry all their books at once to return them. So I recommended they bring one each day and return them in the morning. We’re open all day so maybe that’ll help the students.”