Colleges owed €800k in unpaid library fines
Staff at the country's cash-strapped universities and colleges are among the culprits who owe hundreds of thousands of euro in library fines.
An investigation by the Irish Independent has found that three of the country's biggest institutions are owed more than €100,000 in non-recouped library fines, with one owed €150,000 and another owed a staggering €430,000.
Collectively around €800,000 is owed, with some of the fines dating back to the 1990s.
Among the offenders are at least 500 staff members, though many colleges could not provide a breakdown of offenders.
The country's largest university UCD, with 30,000 students, is owed €428,494 in fines by 21,380 people.
A college spokesperson said the policy in dealing with overdue books was to send students three notices, then an emailed invoice 28 days after the return date and, finally, paper invoices twice a year.
The National University of Ireland Maynooth, with around 8,500 students, is owed €150,350.61 by 12,469 people. Of these 250 are staff members.
The largest fine is a considerable €288.20. Eight people owe between €150 and €200.
A university spokesperson said "the priority of the library" was to ensure the return of books, so that other students and staff can avail of them.
She added that €31,705.32 was recouped in library fines between October 2013 and September 2014.
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), with 20,000 users, is owed €109,945.29 in fines and the cost of replacement books from 5,901 individuals. The maximum fine owed is €180, with students only allowed to borrow six books at a time.
A DIT spokesperson said: "The library service is very proactive in relation to outstanding returns and follows a series of procedures."
She added that students who failed to pay fines would be refused entry to exams and would have exam results withheld. However, she said such measures had never been imposed on any students.
DIT collected €55,304.57 in fines last year and had collected €47,907.78 by early December.
One in every four students in Trinity College has an outstanding fine, meaning its library is chasing €67,920.91. The average owed is €12.22.
NUI Galway is owed €24,633 from 3,248 people. Some 280 relate to staff. DCU is owed €13,283.46 while University of Limerick is owed just €4,428.
University College Cork was the only institution which refused to release information about library fines.