Following the success of a program this summer that allowed children to read their way out of their library fines, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Public Library president Anthony Marx announced yesterday that all fines would be forgiven for children under the age of 18, no additional reading necessary, thanks in large part to a $300,000 donation from McGraw-Hill.
This was Mr. Marx’s first big policy move since taking office this past July. He explained that some 35,000 children (not including the Brooklyn and Queens library systems) were blocked from taking out books by their fines, and that historically speaking less than 5 percent of those fines ever end up getting collected.
“Today’s announcement makes clear the libraries are in the business of encouraging reading more than we are in the business of collecting fines,” he said. Mr. Bloomberg, for his part, fondly recalled Esther Forbes’s Johnny Tremaine, his favorite book as a child, but said that his mother was scrupulous about returning books to the library on time.
Mr. Marx has kept a low profile since starting his job, but he told The Observer his plans are taking shape. They include increased collaboration between the Department of Education and the public library system to improve libraries in schools and “trying to figure out how to make the 42nd Street building even more welcome as the center for all the thinkers and readers and writers in the city.”
Kids have until October 31st before fines start accruing again.