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Fine Forgiveness!

The San Diego Public Library has forgiven library fines that were assessed due to patron borrowing that took place prior to Fiscal Year 2019, which began on July 1, 2018. We’ve done this not only because these fines disproportionately prevented access to library resources in underserved communities but also because the cost of attempting to recover these fines exceeded the dollar value of the fines themselves. Instead of using financially punitive measures, such as overdue fees, to enforce due dates, the library has adopted a materials recovery lending policy that blocks patrons with overdue materials from further borrowing until the overdue materials are returned. We would much rather have the item back than your money. Please note, however, that the library does still bill for lost items at sixty days overdue. These bills become non-cancellable if the items are not returned within two months of being billed.

While patrons whose library accounts have been referred to the Office of the City Treasurer’s Delinquent Accounts Program under the old lending policy are welcome to obtain new library cards and rejoin the library community, debts that have been transferred to the Delinquent Accounts Program have not been forgiven. We cannot forgive these debts as they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Library Department.


No Overdue Fee

Beginning July 1, 2018, the San Diego Public Library is no longer charging a daily late fee for items returned late.*  Analysis by the City of San Diego revealed that it costs more in staff time to collect overdue fees than the fees collected. The Library collects $675,000 in fees each year and spends nearly $1 million to collect them. This new policy will allow the Library to make better use of its staff time and resources. The City’s analysis also showed that overdue fees were preventing people from using Library services. With this new policy, the Library expects to improve access its numerous resources in low-income communities where up to 40 percent of cardholders are prohibited from checking out materials because of outstanding fees.

*Any Library materials checked out before July 1, 2018 will still incur late fees, under the Library’s previous PDF icon fee and fine policy. Patrons are responsible for paying these fees. The Library’s new fee policy does not forgive any existing fees or fines owed to the Library.


Here are some important numbers to remember when checking out materials from the Library under the new Library Fine Policy.

Late date scale

Materials are considered late one day after they are due to the Library. If you have an overdue item, your library card will be blocked and you will not be able to check-out any additional items or place holds on Library materials. You are still able to use the library and renew other materials you have checked out.

At seven days overdue, we will send you an email alerting you that your Library materials are overdue and must be returned or renewed.

At 14 days overdue, we will email you a second reminder to return or renew your items.

At 30 days overdue, the Library will email you a third and final reminder to return or renew your items.

At 60 days overdue, the Library will consider the items lost and mail you an invoice for the cost of the overdue item, applicable service fees, and your library card will be barred, preventing you from renewing or checking out items. You have 60 days to pay this invoice or return the item, or the debt will be transferred to the City Treasurer.


Overdue Materials Policy

The San Diego Public Library is no longer charging users a daily overdue fee for items returned late. Under this new policy, items can be checked out for their standard loan period and, if eligible, renewed up to five times. Library cardholders are responsible for returning or renewing items to prevent their library card from being blocked or barred.

Materials are considered late one day after they are due to the Library. Library card holders may still renew items currently checked out, use our e-resources and access the Internet at any of the 36 San Diego Public Library locations. 

If you have an overdue item, your library card will be blocked and you will not be able to check out any additional items. You are still able to use the library and renew other materials you have checked out.

We will send you an email when your Library materials are seven, 14, and 30 days overdue to alert you that you must return or renew them. When materials are 60 days overdue the Library considers the items lost and will mail you a bill for the cost of the items and applicable service fees. Your library card will be barred, preventing you from renewing or checking out items. If you return the item in good condition within two months of the bill, the replacement fee and processing fee will be waived.

When materials are 90 days overdue, if you haven’t returned materials or paid the bill, you will be mailed an invoice. If the invoice is not paid within 30 days, your debt will be transferred to the Office of the City Treasurer. Your library card will be barred until the Library Department is notified by the City Treasurer that the invoice and service fees have been paid.

Policy Details

Lost Items

When materials are 60 days overdue the Library considers the items lost and will mail you a bill for the cost of the items and applicable service fees. Your library card will be barred, preventing you from renewing or checking out items. You must pay the bill for the replacement cost and the processing fee. If you return the item in good condition within two months of the bill, the replacement fee and processing fee will be waived. Replacements for lost items will not be accepted.

When materials are 90 days overdue, if you haven’t returned them or paid the bill, you will be mailed an invoice. If you do not pay the invoice or return the items within 30 days, you will be referred to the City Treasurer's Delinquent Accounts division and assessed a collection fee and other associated fees.

As of July 1, 2018, The San Diego Public Library can no longer accept payments for the Office of the City Treasurer. Replacements for lost items will not be accepted.

Damaged Items

If you return an item that can no longer be used, or is returned with missing pieces, the Library will mail you a bill for the cost of the items and any applicable service fees. Your library card will be barred, preventing you from renewing or checking out items. You have 60 days to pay the Library’s bill for the replacement cost and processing fee or the cost of the missing pieces. Replacements will not be accepted.

If a bill for a damaged item is unpaid more than 30 days, you will be mailed an invoice. If you do not pay the invoice within 30 days, you will be referred to the City Treasurer's Delinquent Accounts division and assessed a collection fee and other associated fees.

As of July 1, 2018, The San Diego Public Library can no longer accept payments for the Office of the City Treasurer. Replacements for damaged items will not be accepted.

Library Card Replacement and Inter-Library Loan Fines

If you have more than $10 in fines, your card will be blocked and you will not be able to check out any additional items. Library accounts with an unpaid balance of $10 or more for over 60 days will be referred to the Office of the City Treasurer regardless of the type of fees (this includes lost card replacement fees or Inter-Library Loan fines).


Frequently Asked Questions

When does this policy change take effect?

The policy goes into effect on July 1, 2018 and applies only to items checked out on or after this date.

Will my previous fines or fees be forgiven?

No. You are still responsible for all outstanding fines and fees.

Does this change apply to other fees?

No. Fees for replacement cards and Interlibrary Loans will remain in place. If you accrue more than $10 in fees, your account will still be blocked from checking out any items.

Does this change apply to lost or damaged items?

No. Items that are lost, returned with damaged or missing parts, or otherwise did not return in the same condition as when they were checked out will be billed accordingly.

Will I be notified if an item is overdue?

Yes. If you have an email address on file, you will receive email notices when an item is seven, 14, and 30 days overdue. 

Can I purchase a replacement for a damaged or lost item?

No. Replacement costs and processing fees must be paid for each lost or damaged item. We do not accept replacement items in lieu of payment.

How do I clear up an account that has been sent to the City Treasurer for collection?

The library will no longer accept payments for the City Treasurer. All Treasurer accounts must be paid directly to the City Treasurer.