San Diego libraries said goodbye to overdue fees. So how did a teacher end up with a $1,400 fine?
By Bella Ross
The model embraced by most public libraries for retrieving borrowed materials has historically been a simple one: forget to return the item, you pay the price.
The San Diego Public Library became part of a group of trailblazers when it abandoned this system in 2018, joining the less than 10 percent of American libraries around that time that’d done away with daily overdue fees, according to the Library Journal.
But the new policy, advertised on signs across the downtown branch that read, “Wave goodbye to overdue fees,” is not as straightforward as it sounds.
Local public school teacher Julie Ruble, who’s untimely book return resulted in a $1,426 debt to the city of San Diego, can attest. “This was just so much money and I didn’t think there were fines,” she said, “but it turns out the no-fines policy is misnamed.”