Lonely Planet Writer

An amnesty at San Francisco Public Library saw a bumper return, including a book that was 100 years overdue

San Francisco Public Library’s recent six-week fine forgiveness program has been a rip-roaring success, with the haul of items recovered including one book that was 100 years overdue.

San Francisco Public Library's amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library’s amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library

Visitors can now see a collection of 19 of the most overdue items, as they are currently on display it in the atrium of the Main Library.

San Francisco Public Library's amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library’s amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library

A staggering 699,563 books, CDs, DVDs and other overdue items valued at $236,000 were recovered by the library during its “We Want You Back” program.

San Francisco Public Library's amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library’s amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library

This amnesty allowed library-goers to return overdue books without paying a fine. Of the items recovered, 12,246 items were more than 60 days overdue, and a total of $329,797 in fines was waived.

San Francisco Public Library's amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library’s amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library

One short story collection called Forty Minutes Late was checked out in 1917 and technically carried a fine of more than $3500. It was returned by Webb Johnson, who explained that it had been borrowed by his great-grandmother, Phoebe, from the library’s now-closed Fillmore branch. She sadly died a week before it was due to be returned.

 

Also returned was Brass, a Novel of a Marriage, by Charles Norris. It had a due date stamp of 1937, making it 80 years overdue. More than 5000 patrons were able to obtain a clean slate on their record as a result of the amnesty, which is aimed at helping residents to reconnect with the library.

San Francisco Public Library's amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Public Library’s amnesty saw a bumper return of items. Image: San Francisco Public Library

The programme aligns with the library’s commitment to eliminating barriers to service, and providing basic access for all San Franciscans, especially those most in need of library services.

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