Library Eliminates Previous Fines As well as Fines Going Forward

Two months into an intensive Library Users Association campaign to broaden the scope of S.F. Public Library’s January fines and fees initiative, the Library Commission did that this week, at its regular Thursday, March 21, 2018 meeting.

But the Library’s fine elimination plan, now expanded to eliminate fines that are on the books, as well eliminating fines going forward as approved January 17, would continue all of its fees, with no guaranteed alternative to patrons having to pay-or-replace. That would continue to regressively affect the poorest patrons with fees that hit the hardest those least able to afford library charges for lost or damaged materials (fees).

Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said “We are glad that the Library is coming closer to a position we have advocated for years – getting rid of all money fines and fees. But fees are actually a far greater burden on Library patrons, and there should be options for patrons to be accountable without having to spend money or alternatively have a potentially lifelong ban on borrowing.

Library rules prevent patrons from borrowing materials if they owe more than $10 in fines or fees or a combination.

Library Users Association information requests under Open Government (Sunshine) laws revealed that recent library records showed fees on the books are some four times what is owed in fines.

Library fees remaining include $500 for a lost or damaged laptop and $250 for a tablet, respectively, which the Library Commission subsequently cut from $1000 and $500.

Peter Warfield is Director of the Library Users Assn. and lives in San Francisco

April 2019