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San Antonio Public Library ditches late fees

Daniel Casillas

San Antonio Public Library has officially ended overdue fines, but there will still be fees for lost or damaged items.

San Antonio Public Library has officially ended overdue fines. The local library system discontinued the former model on Oct. 1.

The change is an attempt to increase access, SAPL Director Ramiro S. Salazar said in a press release.

"SAPL has made great strides over the years in making library services increasingly accessible for San Antonians,” he said. “From building new facilities to offering innovative services, SAPL is always focused on promoting greater access to the library. Eliminating overdue fines is yet another example of the Library’s dedication to providing inclusive and equitable access to library services for everyone."

There will be no overdue fines as long as items are returned to the library, even if they are late. Lost or damaged items will still be assessed fees. Regardless of when items were checked out, there will be no overdue fines upon their return.

In most cases, items are due back to SAPL within 21 days, and the library expects users to return or renew items before their due date.

The elimination of overdue fines is a national movement, and the local library system first began exploring it with its Fine-Free Pilot Program in June 2019.

The pilot program removed fines for items classified as "juvenile" or "young adult" — but now, fines have been permanently eliminated for all SAPL users.

“Libraries are for everyone,” said Paul Stahl, Chair of the SAPL Board of Trustees, in a press release. “No one should be afraid to visit or use the services at their local library because they are worried about owing money if their book is returned late. The Library Board of Trustees extends our thanks to City Council and the City Manager’s Office for their support and stewardship of this important initiative.”

SAPL officials emphasized that the new model will break down financial barriers to the library's services and resources.

Those who currently have existing fines still owe SAPL, but the library can offer a repayment option. Reach out to your local library branch or call 210-207-2500 to discuss how you can continue to use library services and resources while paying toward your balance on a regular basis.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon