San Diego Libraries Clear 130k Late fees

And it will Save Money

April 11, 2019

By Bryce Rosen

In welcoming surprise, the city of San Diego has cleared library fines for more than 130,000 San Diego residents on Tuesday to help launch a new era in how locals acces their libraries.

Coming in the midst of National Library Week, the San Diego Public Library Foundation and city leaders – including San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate – announced the forgiveness of library fines totaling a “couple million dollars,” according to Library Director Misty Jones.

While 130,000 owed fines, at least 74,000 were completely barred from using libraries because fines exceeded $10. “We don’t want to penalize people. We want them to bring the materials back, but we’re saying, ‘It’s OK. We understand if you’re a little bit late,’” Jones said.

The hope is that the pardons will help increase usage by residents, and in turn actually save the libraries money. This in part because the administration and labor cost of tracking down late fees actually cost more than the fines themselves. In 2018 the library collected $675,000 in fees each year, but spent nearly $1 million to collect those fees.

“Libraries are known as the 'great equalizers' because we provide equal access for all patrons, regardless of their socio-economic status,” said Jones. “Wiping the slate clean of outstanding fines means welcoming back many of the underserved patrons who most need our services.”

More details on the City of San Diego Library policies here