By Ivan Pereira
The Queens Library’s young users who have been taking a long time to finish their favorite book now have the chance to clear the slate.
Administrators for the library, along with the mayor and the heads of the other borough library systems, announced last Thursday a new initiative that not only encourages the youth to return to their local branches with their overdue materials, but leave with new material.
Under the New Chapter Program, patrons under the age of 17 can drop off an overdue book to any branch in Queens and will not be charged any late fees.
“We want to keep our kids reading, not worrying about fines they may not be able to pay,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The program will run till Oct. 31 and Queens Library librarians will give users New Chapter library cards, which are brand new accounts with limited borrowing features. They will then be able to return their materials and pay no fee, according to the Queens Library.
A grant from the McGraw-Hill Cos. will be paying for the New Chapter Program.
“The New Chapter Program is a great way for young people to start off the new school year with a clean slate that’s free of library fines and penalties,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who chairs the Council Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee.
When Queens Library users accrue $15 or more in fines, their borrowing privileges are temporarily suspended. Nearly 100,000 children across the five boroughs have overdue library materials, according to Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante.
Galante added that young Queens users have other options to reduce their late fees. The Queens Library’s Monster Read Down Your Fees initiative provides users who are 18 and under a $5 credit toward their late fees in exchange for reading a book inside a branch or writing a book report on a recently read book.
From now until Oct. 31, Monster Read Down Your Fees participants will receive five times the amount of credit, according to the CEO.
“Last year, through our existing programs, more than 10,000 children had their fines and lost book charges forgiven through reading. This new program is an important step to further support reading for every child,” he said in a statement.
Log on to queenslibrary.org for more information about the programs.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.