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Book worms: Kids off the hook for library fines — if they borrow again!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Public Library’s two most wanted kids are off the hook.

A pair of pint-sized scholarly scofflaws, who owe a total of $4,223.85 in overdue fees for books they haven’t returned to the library, will be exonerated thanks to a city-wide program that grants amnesty to library outlaws under the age of 18 — as long as they start borrowing again.

Now through Oct. 31, the library will call off Mr. Bookman, and is forgiving a total of $150,000 in overdue fines if scofflaws check in at their local branch and promise to start taking out books again.

“For us, it’s more about getting people back in the building and using the service than anything else,” said Jason Carey, library spokesman.

That includes two serial offenders who top the list: one has 97 books outstanding, racking up $2,591.87 in fines since 2008; the other has 98 books, totaling $1,641.98 in past due fines since 2005. The library would not divulge the names of the spongers.

The library normally charges 25 cents a day for late books taken out by adults or 10 cents a day for books from the children’s section. Overdue CDs cost a buck a day and DVDs are $2. And once your bill tops $15, you are cut off from borrowing anything any more, but the library allows borrowers to take out 99 items at once, which can account for the massive fines.

The library says it isn’t concerned that letting the deadbeats borrow again will end with them taking on more debt.

“That $2,500 — that person has probably not come back because they owe that amount, so that’s money we wouldn’t ever get back anyway,” said Carey. “There are a couple of people who owe a lot of money, but these are really the exception to the rule.”

Still, some books are more popular among scofflaws then others.

The perennial classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss is the most popular item for deadbeats, followed by “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” by J.K. Rowling.

And the library says a copy of “Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z,” by Lois Ehlert has been checked out since February of 2001, so it is feasible that the borrower is now reading the book to his or her own kids.

The library offered a similar amnesty program to all its patrons in April, but this one specifically targets kids who may be scared off from the library because of massive fines.

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
Great lesson to teach these little deadbeats,
it pays to be an irresponsible brat.
Oct. 4, 2011, 8:23 am
John from Williamsburg says:
All they have to do is come into the library and promise to take out more books? They're not required to actually return the book the stole? Library amnesty is a good way to get back books from people who cannot afford to pay the fine. It's not going to turn any hoodlums into regular readers. The public's money is completely wasted on distributing books - it's a dead format.
Oct. 4, 2011, 9:30 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
John, books are not a dead format, and that is a
ridiculous statement.
Oct. 4, 2011, 1:49 pm
Paul W from Sheepshead Bay says:
I will not pay you in a box!
I will not pay you with my socks
I will not pay you in my school
I will not pay you cause you're a fool

I will not pay here or there
I will not pay you anywhere

I will not pay for Green Eggs And Ham
I will not pay you
Sam I am!
Oct. 4, 2011, 5:06 pm
Josef from downtown bklyn says:
This is absurd.

I use the library frequently. When I have not had time to finish a book I want to read, I keep it until I'm done with it and then pay the fine. I think of the fines as voluntary tax contributions to the city's most important institution (for my money, I'd close NYPD and FDNY entirely before I'd cut a single cent from the libraries, but for some reason this perspective seems unpopular).

I want everyone to read, but not at the expense of the already-under-funded libraries.
Oct. 5, 2011, 12:13 pm
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
This is a ridiculous strategy. Is it because they're minors? Then make the parents pay it. If they refuse, tell NYS to deduct the fine from any future tax refund. And rescind the kid's library card in the meantime.

With the library's stategy, every time a kid doesn't bring back a book all he has to do to avoid paying a fine is to take out another book. This is great for building a free, personal library, but what good does it do the libary? And it teaches the kid what lesson?

By the way, Josef, if we close the FDNY who'll put out any library fires? The NYPD?
Oct. 10, 2011, 2:38 pm

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