Local libraries in L.A. County are looking to entice not only book lovers but also, children who have yet to be interested in books by not imposing late fees as well as signing up students for library cards through their schools.
The libraries will also offer a “read away” program where children can “read away” any fees they may have accrued.
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Thanks to a vote last week by Los Angeles County supervisors to end late fees for any patron under 21 at county-run libraries, the no-fine effect was immediate.
Though ending late fees did not mean past fines would disappear altogether.
But, a program that started back in June offered a “debt-relief” program where students could “pay off” any fines by reading at a rate of $5 an hour.
Sounds like a fair trade-off if you ask me!
And with all the iPads, iPhones and the apps in between — librarians continue to push children towards reading books at libraries.
Librarians also want to ensure there is not a gap between lower income and higher income families.
The “reading away” library debt is also important as the materials that are either lost or damaged can potentially rack up to a high cost.
For example, a debt of $10 in fees equates to a suspended borrowing status. And according to the L.A. Times, fines of just 15 cents a day, per book, can steer kids away. But thanks to the “Read Away” program, the county library system has cleared 3,500 blocked accounts, according to the county’s assistant library administrator for youth services — Darcy Hastings.
“When charges accrue on a young person’s account, generally, they don’t pay the charges and they don’t use the card,” Hastings said to LA Times. “A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services.”
Close to 80% of parents reported they are more likely to let children check out materials thanks to the more flexible policies, according to random surveys.
And close to 100 students a week read away their debt according to Aleah Jurnecka at East L.A. Library. Children use either one or more of the three library systems: L.A. city, L.A. County or a school library.
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Location and school district affect the state of school libraries. L.A. Unified, for example, is an elementary library that is fully staffed with a full-time librarian and a part-time aide but for close to a year, district students have received city library cards that accrue no overdue fees.
Close to 15,000 students have used the new cards and thousands of others already had access to library cards.
Students are able to check out three books at one time.
As fantastic as the program is, the city of Los Angeles itself does not have a read-away program for fines and other cities with library systems must set their own fee policies.
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