Clemency Granted For Underage New York Public Library Fines

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Remember taking out books at the library as a kid? Remember the ensuing library fines when you couldn't get it together to return the books in time, and how you're pretty sure there are still never-returned library copies of Nancy Drew books from 15 years ago in your parents' house? In a noble attempt to not scare kids away, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library are all going to forgive fines on overdue library books. Up until now, if you accrued more than $15 in late fees, the libraries would stop you from borrowing any more materials. From now until Halloween, the "New Chapter" initiative will absolve kids under 18 from having to pay for their overdue books. The libraries say 100,000 kids will benefit from the program.

New Chapter was announced yesterday in a press conference that included Mayor Bloomberg, who said, "We want to keep our kids reading, not worrying about fines they may not be able to pay."

NYPL rep Angela Montefinise said it's too early to tell how many kids have taken advantage of the program, but that 8,000 kids participated in the smaller Read Down Your Fines program in Queens which knocked off a dollar in fines for every 15 minutes of reading. New Chapter requires less effort on the scofflaws' part; kids only have to return the books or check out a book to be cleared of their fines, according to Montefinise.

As for us adults, no dice; return your library books. Do you want to end up like this Wisconsin lady?

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

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