By Naeisha Rose
Avid readers under the age of 17 can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to borrowing books at their favorite libraries in Queens, Brooklyn and New York.
Last week, late fines for 145,000 children and teens were dropped during the implementation of a one-time fine amnesty program, according to Queens Library spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon. Nearly 50,000 readers had their borrowing privileges restored.
The JPB Foundation, a non-profit that helps impoverished communities, made the amnesty program possible. Their grant cleared $2.25 million in collection fees.
In the Queens Library system, 41 percent of the blocked cards are in the most economically distressed/lowest income zip codes in Queens, Bourbon said.
“By restoring borrowing privileges and wiping out fines on youth cards, we are saying to children, ‘You are wanted, you are welcome and you belong here,’” Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “We understand there are sometimes circumstances that prevent cardholders from returning books on time, but they should know our staff will always work with them to ensure fines are not a barrier. We are grateful that The JPB Foundation has made it possible for kids to come back to us, and we look forward to serving them in our libraries.”
Queens Library, which was founded in 1896, is comprised of 61 community libraries throughout the borough, the spokeswoman said.
These libraries offer assistance in education, vocational and employment training, as well as health, recreational and social services programming.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose