San Francisco Public Library Votes to Eliminate Overdue Fines.

SF Public LibraryOn January 17th, the San Francisco Public Library Commission voted to eliminate fines on overdue materials. The vote followed testimony from San Francisco residents and librarians in response to a report released by The Financial Justice Project and the Library titled "Long Overdue: Eliminating Fines on Overdue Materials to Improve Access to San Francisco Public Library." Through interviews with librarians across the country, surveys of library staff and patrons, and analysis of library data, the report finds that overdue library fines restrict access and exacerbate inequality, create conflict between patrons and the library, and do not improve on-time return rates. Libraries nationwide are going fine-free, since fines keep low income people out of libraries and disproportionately impact low-income people. Currently, 11 percent of Bayview’s adult cardholders are blocked from accessing the library, significantly more than any other branch and more than three times as many as in high-income branches. The proposal will go to the Board of Supervisors next for a vote, likely as part of the June budget process. The recommended reform was covered by the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and SF Weekly.