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SF Library Waives All Late Fees

Overdue books get a free pass for 6 weeks during “Fine Forgivness” month
By - posted 1/4/2017

Got any overdue books from the library at home that you haven’t wanted to return because you’re worried about the fine? Now’s your chance!

For the first time since 2009 the San Francisco Public Library is offering their Fine Forgiveness Program from January 3 – February 14, 2017.  For six weeks the San Francisco Public Library will waive late fees on all returned books, CDs, DVDs and other materials, regardless of how long overdue.

The last time this program was in effect eight years ago the library recovered 30,000 items and forgave more than $55,000 in fines. Items can be returned to any branch library.

What is the Fine Forgiveness Program?
The San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) will welcome back overdue books and the people who love them beginning January 3 – February 14. During this six week period, patrons can return overdue materials to any of the 27 branch libraries and the Main. SFPL will forgive past and present fines. The library user’s record will be cleared and they can use their library card again.

How does it work?

  • Bring any undamaged, overdue library materials to the circulation desk or book drop at any of SFPL’s 27 branches or the Main. Enter a raffle to win a fine forgiveness prize if you drop-off your item in person!
  • SFPL will forgive the overdue fines.
  • If your library card has been suspended because of overdue fines, it will be reactivated and you can begin using it again.

Who is eligible?
All cardholders are eligible to have their overdue fines forgiven for items returned January 3 – February 14, 2017.

Can I have fines forgiven for others?
Yes, if you have that person’s materials in hand, or if you are a sponsor or authorized user on that person’s library account.

Where can I return materials?
You can return overdue materials either to the library circulation desk or book drop to have fines on those materials cleared. Materials must be returned to a San Francisco Public Library location.

Can I call the library and ask to have my past fines cleared?
If the items have already been returned, yes. If not, please bring the overdue items to your local library during the six week period.

Which fines will be cleared?
In addition to clearing the overdue fines for material returned, all other fines on your record will be cleared including overdue fines for materials that have been previously returned.

If I lost my library card can I receive a free replacement card during the Fine Forgiveness Program?
Yes! San Francisco Public Library cards are always free to obtain and replace.

What items and fees are not eligible during Fine Forgiveness?
Items and fees not eligible are:
– Overdue or lost materials that have not been returned or replaced
– Damaged and unusable items
– Items from other library systems

What if I’ve lost or damaged an item?
Unfortunately, we will not be able to forgive charges on your account for a lost or damaged item. However, you can pay the replacement cost or physically replace the item and then have all overdue fees waived for this item during the fine forgiveness program.

Tell me more about replacing an item
You can replace a lost item with an identical copy of that item in excellent condition. The replaced item must be approved by a, SFPL library staff member. If a replacement copy is accepted, both the lost fee and the processing fee will be forgiven.

What if I paid my fine last month? Can I get a refund?
Unfortunately the library is unable to give refunds for fines previously paid. Refunds are only available when you have paid for a lost item and it is found and returned within one year of payment.

Fine Forgiveness seems like a great program! What can I do in return?
Easy! Take advantage of all of the resources and access you now have at the San Francisco Public Library. Here are a few things you can do to get and stay involved:

  • Visit a Branch Library you’ve never been to
  • Attend a program at the Library
  • View a Library exhibit
  • Sign up for hoopla and stream thousands of movies, TV shows and music for free
  • Browse the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection
  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud and our other social media accounts
  • Sign up for SFPL’s monthly newsletter
  • Receive text or email notices about your SFPL account
  • Volunteer at the Library

We want to hear from you! Drop-off your items in person to enter a raffle to win a special fine forgiveness prize, and share your #fineforgiveness experience with us on social media.

Has SFPL held a fine forgiveness program before?
Yes, in 2009 and 2001. The last time SFPL offered a fine forgiveness program, the library collected more than 30,000 items and forgave more than $55,000 in fines.

What are the goals of the fine forgiveness program?
The fine forgiveness program is an opportunity for residents to reconnect with their library. The program allows San Francisco Public Library to recover materials and gives patrons with overdue items a clear record. The program aligns with the Library’s commitment to eliminating barriers to service and providing basic access for all San Franciscans, especially those most in need of library services.

What are the desired outcomes?
The Library hopes to restore library access and borrowing privileges to the more than 55,000 library users who owe $10.01 or more on their account. The Library also hopes to recover items from the 29,554 library users who have outstanding billed items on their records.


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