San Francisco Public Library Is Fabulously Fine Free

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2019
Media Contact: Jaime Wong

(415) 557-4295;


San Francisco Public Library Is Fabulously Fine Free

Effective today, September 16, 2019, San Francisco Public Library has eliminated overdue fines for all Library patrons. Additionally, the Library is clearing all outstanding overdue fines from all patron records.

The San Francisco Public Library was a pioneer in the fine free library movement. SFPL eliminated fines for children and teens in 1974. In recent years, inspired by other library systems that had eliminated fines for overdue materials for patrons of all ages, the Library partnered with the San Francisco Financial Justice Project of the Treasurer’s Office to study whether SFPL should go fine free. The full report on the findings of this study can be found here.

The study found that the elimination of overdue fines in libraries had several positive outcomes:

  • Increased patron access to materials and services
  • Reduction of the inequitable impact of overdue fines
  • Improved patron relationships with their library
  • Optimization of library staff time and increased staff efficiency

After reviewing the findings from the study developed by Library staff and the team at the Financial Justice Project, the San Francisco Public Library Commission voted to approve a resolution urging the City’s Board of Supervisors to amend the Library’s fines and fees schedule, eliminating all overdue fines.

Additionally, the Library Commission voted to approve a resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance to forgive all outstanding overdue fines owed to the Library and authorize the San Francisco Public Library to clear all outstanding overdue fines from patron accounts.

The two resolutions went before the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor for adoption through the City’s Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget process. The City budget was signed by Mayor London Breed in August, paving the way for the Library to take final steps in the process of eliminating fines,clearing outstanding fines from patron records, and restoring accounts that had been suspended because they had reached the maximum limit on overdue fines.

While the Library eliminated overdue fines, library users are still responsible for fees associated with the replacement of lost or damaged books and other materials they check out. Under this new policy, it is important to understand the difference between overdue fines and billed-item fees. Overdue fines are the daily charges applied to items not returned by their specified due date. These are the fines that will no longer be charged to patrons. Billed-item fees, or just fees, represent the charges applied for lost,damaged, or unreturned materials and are still in effect.

San Francisco Public Library is part of a nation-wide movement to reduce access barriers and live up to its commitment to free and equal access to its communities. This map from the Urban Libraries Council shows other fine free libraries.

For more information, visit

About San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information,knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center and four bookmobiles.

September 16, 2019