The New York Public Library is taking pity on some 140,000 city kids who have kept their library books out too long and are currently barred from borrowing new reading material. They will be able to chip away at their bills a buck at a time, $1 with every 15 minutes of reading. This is because the library doesn’t want children to be indentured servants, but instead, wants them to actually read. And if they have fines that they might be busted for, well, they are probably not going to do that. Seems reasonable.
As Angela Montefinise, PR director of the NYPL, told us, “The way kids are pardoned is by reading — they sign up for our summer reading program, and then for every 15 minutes they read, they get $1 off their fines. All kids can participate, regardless of the amount they owe. About 30 percent of juvenile and young adult cards (about 144,000 cards) are blocked because kids have $15 or more in fines, so those kids will be able to check out books again if they participate — but someone with even $1 in fines can take part. It’s called the Read Down Your Fines program. It started today and goes until September 9. Kids can go to local branches for information, or check out this page. In this economy, it can be difficult for children to pay, and that keeps them out of the library. We want them inside, reading and learning all summer.”
Hear that, kids? The library, according to Reuters, will rely on an honor system for children to report their 15-minute reading sessions, which they can even do at home. There are a whole lot of 15-minute intervals between now and September 9!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 25, 2011