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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 consider the items lost and email 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.

At 60 days overdue, if you haven't returned the item or paid the invoice, the debt will be transferred to the City Treasurer. Your library card will be barred until we are notified by the City Treasurer that the fine has been paid.


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. Patrons will be sent overdue notices via email at seven and 14 days overdue.

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 days and 14 days overdue to alert you that you must return or renew them. When materials are 30 days overdue the Library considers the items lost and will email you an invoice 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, the replacement fee and processing fee will be waived.

When materials are 60 days overdue, if you haven’t returned materials or paid the invoice, 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 30 days overdue the Library considers the items lost and will email you an invoice 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 invoice for the replacement cost and the processing fee. Replacements for lost items will not be accepted.

When a lost item is 60 days overdue, the library account will be transferred to the City’s Treasurer’s Department. You will be sent a City of San Diego invoice for the cost of the item and the processing fee. If the item is returned, the cost of the item and the processing fee will not be waived; you are still responsible for the entire amount of the invoice and the invoice must be paid to City Treasurer. If you do not pay the invoice you will be referred to the City’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 email you an invoice 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 30 days to pay the Library’s invoice for the replacement cost and processing fee or the cost of the missing pieces. Replacements for lost items will not be accepted.

If an invoice for a damaged item is unpaid more than 30 days, the account will be transferred to the Office of the City Treasurer. You will be sent a City of San Diego invoice for the cost of the damaged item and a processing fee. If the patron does not pay the City’s invoice they will be referred to the 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

Library accounts with lost card replacement fees or Inter-Library Loan fines will not be sent to the Office of the City Treasurer after 60 days. However, Library accounts still have a $10 threshold for fees and 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.


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.

What happens if an item is not returned or is lost?

If materials are 30 days overdue, the Library will block the account and issue an invoice to the patron for the cost of the item(s) plus a $10 processing fee. You will also be barred and unable to renew or check out any items.

You will have 30 days to return the item or pay the replacement fee or be sent to City Treasurer for collections. If you return the item, the cost and the processing fee will be waived. If you have lost the item you must pay the cost and the processing fee.

When an item is over 60 days overdue your library account will be barred and your invoice will be sent to City Treasurer and assessed a $25 fee as well as any other associated costs.

Will I be notified if an item is overdue?

Yes. You will receive notices when an item is seven days and 14 days overdue.

What happens if the item is damaged?

If you return an item that is damaged and can no longer be used, the item will be marked damaged and you will receive a bill for the replacement cost of the item and a $10 processing fee. Your account will be marked barred and you will be unable to renew or check out any items and will have 30 days to pay the replacement fee and processing fee or be sent to City Treasurer.

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.

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