May 28, 2022

California: San Jose Library Amnesty Weighed as Unpaid Fines Near $7 Million

From the Mercury News:

A whopping 39 percent of all San Jose library cardholders — about 187,000 accounts — have racked up fines, and it’s only getting worse.

Now city officials are talking about everything from reducing fines, which are higher than at other Bay Area library systems, to an amnesty program to lure patrons back, effectively declaring it’s more important to get residents and books back into the libraries to promote literacy than to punish patrons for overdue materials, even if it means giving up some badly needed revenue. The city would not identify those with unpaid fines.


[Councilman Pierluigi] Oliverio says it’s critical to “welcome back” cardholders who’ve been shut out because of fines, especially children who rely on the resources. He proposes a library amnesty program to forgive penalties for two weeks — but only if people return the outstanding materials.

It’s not a new idea, and amnesty programs have worked in other big cities, such as Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. But it’s never been tried in San Jose.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Rules Committee Considers Library Fee Amnesty Program (via San Jose Insider)

See Also: Full Text of Memo Discussed in Articles

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.