by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Kids will have an exciting opportunity to clear away their library fines at the beginning of this summer. The Friends of the Litchfield Public Library are sponsoring a Fines Read-Down at the Litchfield Library from June 1 to June 13. Kids earn $1 off of their late fees for every 15 minutes spent reading in the library.
This program is for anyone younger than age 18. The child can read down fines only on their own library card, not their parent’s card.
Late fees can be cleared through this program, but lost items cannot be paid for this way, and replacement library cards can’t, either. If you have been billed for a book or other item that has not been returned, talk with a librarian about options for taking care of that. The good news is that even if an item has been overdue for years, once it’s returned the late fee will drop to $3 on a book or $8 on a movie, and that late fee could be worked off through the Fines Read-Down during those first two weeks of June. It’s a great time to do some digging for those lost library books and movies!
To participate in the program, kids and teens can come to the front desk anytime during those two weeks, sign in with their name and the time, and then come back when they’re done to write down their ending time. They will need to read something in print while sitting in the children’s department, in the lobby, or otherwise in view of the front desk. Sorry, e-book readers, but for this program you can’t read on a screen. You can read a comic book or magazine as well as a book, though. We can only give credit to kids spending their time reading, not simply hanging out at the library.
For young kids who can’t yet read, an adult or older child can read to them in the children’s department to read down that young child’s fines. In fact, an older sibling reading to a younger one can potentially read down fines on two cards at once!
The summer reading program also begins June 1. Time spent reading in the library to earn money toward fines can also be counted toward the summer reading program, up to an hour a day. However, summer reading logs don’t necessarily count towards the Fines Read-Down, if the reading is done at home. The summer reading program runs all summer, and the read-down program only lasts two weeks.
There’s no limit on how much each child or teen can read down, as long as it’s for late fees. Unfortunately, we can’t give credit for future fines. We can only apply reading time to fines kids already have on their cards. So this is a good time to start fresh and then make sure to keep track of those due dates to avoid late fees in the future. We do have email notifications now that remind you three days before items are due, so make sure to sign up for those if you have an email account that you check.
We have never tried a program like this before, and we’re excited to try it out and give kids a way to regain use of their library cards even if they don’t have money to pay for their fines. When fines total more than $5, nothing can be checked out with that card. Start summer vacation by reading in the library, and then check out books all summer to bring home for free entertainment. Thank you to the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library for funding this great program!