Over the summer break, kids who have racked more than $15 in fines can get them expunged by logging their reading times on the Summer reading site. 15 minutes of reading equals a $1 reduction in fines.
Currently, 143,000 kids - 30% of those with NYPL cards - owe $15 or more in fines. The Library wants to get them back in the doors:
"Kids might be afraid or ashamed because they are delinquent with the library," said NYPL official Jack Martin. "The idea of this program is to bring them back in.
"We are in such hard economic times and children and teens depend on the library," he added.
I can't easily think of an alternative way to encourage people to return books apart from discouraging them for holding on to them with fines (although drop-boxes at schools might help). But stopping kids from borrowing more because they're scared of getting told off or turned away defeats libraries' bigger purpose.
Amnesties like this delight me. Libraries recognise they're unlikely to ever get the money back - but they can get the items, and - more importantly - get the readers back through the doors.