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Nearly 700,000 books returned to SF Public Library during ‘fine amnesty’ month

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San Francisco’s Public Library Main Branch. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

A recent campaign by the San Francisco Public Library to reactivate its absent membership and recover overdue books is being viewed as a success after 12,246 overdue items were returned to stock.

The widely publicized fine amnesty program ran from Jan. 3 to Feb. 14, waiving late fees on books, CDs, DVDs and other materials, no matter how long overdue they were.

Included in the recent returns were a collection of short stories titled 40 Minutes Late, which was 100 years past due, and Brass, a Novel of a Marriage by Charles Norris with a due date stamp of 1937, making the item 80 years past due. In both cases, the books were originally checked out by the returners’ great grandparents.

The fine amnesty program was a win-win for everyone involved. Library patrons saved $329,797 in overdue fines, and more than 5,000 people had borrowing privileges restored after being banned for taking out more books.  As for the library, the overdue items that were returned valued in at nearly $236,000.

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