Kids will soon have their own special library cards, incapable of incurring fines and of little use to their parents, under a plan approved by the Columbus Metropolitan Library yesterday. The library board approved the new Kids Cards yesterday, creating a pilot program that will begin in two local school districts in the coming school year.
This is awesome. As a kid, I was banned from my town library because my mom forgot to return my copy of Heidi. This system would help prevent this, and make sure that kids see libraries are supportive, rather than punitive, places.
Kids with fines they are not responsible for, it’s always a struggle. When new students in grade 6 come to my middle school (we are also a public library) I clear their fines, and explain to them that fines incurred as a child were not their fault, and now that they’re in middle school, they get a fresh start. To have a 12 year old thank you and say “I’m going to hide this card from my parent(s)” because their mother takes it to check out her own materials… it’s the saddest thing. This is not the kind of struggle we should be having! I just want everyone to read, you know?
This is so much better. I didn’t realize this is a reason so many people feel so discouraged by late fees. It makes so much sense.
Luckily for me, I left a book at my Grandparents’ house in another city as a kid. It was The Hungry Caterpillar which I loved so much I took it with me everywhere. I told the school librarian I had left it and she just said to bring it back. She put it as lost so it wouldn’t rack up fines until I brought it back. Also my mom was supportive and would pay the fines. She never used my public library card either.
This memory is so vivid still. This is how other people must remember feeling discouraged.
Also, this matters to poor kids. I once couldn’t check out books at my town’s public library for a year in junior high because my transportation to the library was spotty (sometimes I’d be there every day after school, sometimes it’d be weeks, and I couldn’t walk there, as we lived on a farm) and they wouldn’t let me check anything out until it was paid—only I had no money and my parents were bad at even giving me money for reduced lunch, let alone paying fines.
I saw this when tutoring teens in Harlem, too—my student was a very avid reader, but she’d racked up fines and therefore had no library access, and now we were working on getting her set up to take the SAT and apply for colleges and she had no internet access because of her fines (no internet or computer at home).