This morning I had to wait a half an hour for Cabell Library to open
simply to return a book. The library staff at the counter were unwilling
to listen to me because it wasn't yet 7:30. I am a student paying for
university services, and I found this unacceptably rude. For those of us
who are busy when the library is unable to be open, please provide a
secure book drop. I have never seen a library without one, even in most
Interim Associate University Librarian for Public Services Barbara Anderson replies...
I'm sorry that you were inconvenienced this morning, Matthew, but please don't blame the circulation desk staff. As you observed, there are a few library employees in Cabell Library at 7:00 AM, but they are busy preparing for opening, and they are not allowed to let anyone except library staff enter the building until we are officially open (at 7:30 am on week days).
During the fall and spring semesters, Cabell Library is open more hours than any other public university library in Virginia with the exception of the University of Virginia's undergraduate library. We are open well before and well after classes are scheduled, and as we are in the heart of the Monroe Park Campus, we hope that most students will find that our schedule accommodates their needs for studying, borrowing and returning library materials.
It is true that many libraries offer book returns after hours, and we are actually looking into the options for installing one in Cabell Library. We understand the extra convenience this would offer to library users, but it's not a completely one-sided issue. The term "book drop" is descriptive of one of the problems associated with these services - that is, the damage that can result when books are dropped into them. There is also the risk of theft and of damage caused by exposure to inclement weather and (perish the thought!) mischievous or malicious vandalism.
There are a few book returns on the market that do provide some measure of security and protection from damage, and we are in the process of gathering estimates for installing one of these in the outer foyer of Cabell Library. Once we know the cost of doing this we will need to weigh the need for this new service with the other library priorities that are competing for the same funds.
If you are worried about getting your items in before you are charged an overdue fine, please remember that there is a three-day grace period for many items in the VCU Libraries' collections. Please consult this website for more information: http://www.library.vcu.edu/circpriv/fines.html#grace. We also send a courtesy notice to your VCU email account three days in advance of your due date.