The library system wants to encourage kids to continue to read.

By Nora Horvath
Updated October 20, 2017
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Yesterday, the New York Public Library cleared fines on all cards held by patrons under age 18, allowing them to start fresh with fine-free accounts. The amnesty day applied to the New York Public Library, the Queens Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library.

In New York City, patrons who rack up $15 or more in late fees have their cards blocked and are unable to take out new items, which can discourage children from showing up to use the educational services if they are unable to afford their fines. The New York Public Library estimates that 20 percent of youth library cardholders have suspended borrowing privileges.

The total fines erased amounted to nearly $2.25 million in lost revenue, but the JPB Foundation, an organization that creates equal opportunities to families living in poverty, will be donating that money to the libraries instead.

The amnesty “is a dramatic way to message to kids and young adults that we want you back, and we want you reading. We want you to be responsible, but we don’t want to penalize you just because you are too poor to pay the fines,” Anthony W. Marx, the president of the New York Public Library, told The New York Times.

Patrons did not need to take any actions to have their cards cleared and unblocked, but the amnesty period won’t last. Late items due after October 19th will begin accruing fines again the following day.

For more information on the amnesty, visit the New York Public Library’s website.