LA libraries started “The Great Read Away” program that allows kids to read books to clear their late fees. In the first six months of the program over 3,500 previously “locked accounts” had been cleared, and now 80% of parents are more likely to let their kids go to the library.

But local libraries are providing a way out for such book lovers, and creating new lures for other children, who haven’t caught the reading bug, by doing away with late fees, automatically signing up students for library cards through their schools and allowing them to “read away” their fines and fees.

So on Thursday, Leilany went to the East Los Angeles Library, a county facility, to read off $4 in late fees.

In an era where screen time dominates the lives of children, librarians and others haven’t given up on instilling a love of books and libraries.

But for about a year, district students have automatically received city library cards that accrue no overdue fees.


Source: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-edu-no-library-fines-20171225-story.html

No more library fines for most young readers in L.A. County

Leilany Medina, 11, loves books so much that she’d like to become a librarian. But even she sometimes forgets to return books on time, especially if she hasn’t quite finished. And she’s racked up some late fines.

But local libraries are providing a way out for such book lovers, and creating new lures for other children, who haven’t caught the reading bug, by doing away with late fees, automatically signing up students for library cards through their schools and allowing them to “read away” their fines and fees.

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The most recent move was a vote last week by Los Angeles County supervisors to end late fees for patrons under 21 at county-run libraries, effective immediately. That did not help Leilany because officials offered no amnesty for past fines.

So on Thursday, Leilany went to the East Los Angeles Library, a county facility, to read off $4 in late fees. Students can eliminate debt at a rate of $5 an hour under a program that took effect in June.

“You tell them you’ll read and they’ll sign you in and you start,” said Leilany, a fifth-grader at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary in East L.A. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.”

In an era where screen time dominates the lives of children, librarians and others haven’t given up on instilling a love of books and libraries. They also want to make sure there isn’t a “library gap” between the more prosperous and the poor. The program for “reading away” library debt is especially important because the cost of damaged or lost materials can be high.

A library debt of $10 results in suspended borrowing privileges. Since “Read Away” went into effect, the county library system has cleared 3,500 blocked accounts, said Darcy Hastings, the county’s assistant library administrator for youth services.

The state of school libraries varies greatly by location and school district. L.A. Unified has only one elementary library, for example, that it considers fully staffed, with a full-time librarian and a part-time aide. But for about a year, district students have automatically received city library cards that accrue no overdue fees. Students can check out three books at a time. About 15,000 have used the new cards. (Thousands of others already had library cards.)