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26 Jul 2011 11:06
The New York Public Library will waive the outstanding fines of 143 000 children now barred from borrowing new items if they do one thing: read.
Beginning on Monday, children enrolled in the library system’s summer reading programme will be able to knock $1 from their bill for every 15 minutes of reading they complete.
“The country is in a pretty tough financial climate right now, and we know that kids more than ever need to use the library because their parents might not be able to afford to buy books or not be able to afford internet access at home,” said Jack Martin, the library’s assistant director.
“They’re embarrassed to come to the library—they think we’ll know they have fines and we’ll ask them to leave,” said Martin, who oversees the summer reading programme.
Anyone who owes $15 or more to the system is usually barred from borrowing new items. But the library would rather have children reading than hold out for the possibility of reaping fines that might never be paid.
Since the library will not be monitoring children during their 15-minute reading sessions—the reading can even be done at home—an honour system will be in place.
“We trust our kids,” Martin said, noting that many city children consider reading a pleasure to be enjoyed rather than a chore to be avoided.
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