Children, Teens, Get Chance to Read Down Fines at Library

St. Cloud, MN, June 2013: Read Down Your Fines is the name of a new initiative from Great River Regional Library (GRRL) to encourage young people, especially teens, to read and to use their library.

The library has designated June 24-29 as Read Down Your Fines week for library cardholders 16 and younger at all 32 GRRL locations. For June 24-29 only, children and teens will be able to read down their fines at the library. Library staff will track the amount of time they spend reading at the library that week. For each 15 minutes of reading, $1 will be waived from fines on their account for late return of materials. In the case of very young children with fines on their card, a parent will be able to read down the child’s fines by reading to them in the library.

Read Down Your Fines will apply only to charges levied against ‘minor’ cards given to those 16 and younger, and it will only be applied to fines accumulated for late returns. This means the items concerned have been returned in good condition and are available for use by other people.

“Not all fines that accumulate on minor cards are caused by irresponsible behavior,” said Beth Ringsmuth Stolpman, library patron services specialist. “Sometimes children and teens aren’t able to get to the library without transportation from an adult, and sometimes somebody else within their family uses their card and returns items late. But even when children or teens have been careless, giving them the opportunity to read down their fines is worthwhile if it brings them back to the library. We believe reading is good for kids, and that when they feel welcome at the library they are more likely to use its services.”

The library conducted a special fundraising effort to cover the cost of waiving fines associated with this initiative. Staff said the fundraising was successful and they anticipate costs will be offset.

Great River Regional Library provides library services at 32 public libraries in Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright Counties. It provides Central Minnesota residents with nearly 1 million books, CDs and DVDs, 250 public computers, programming and information services.