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Syracuse to Stop Fining Children for Overdue Library Books to Encourage Reading

City of Syracuse flickr

  Syracuse school children no longer have to worry about being fined if they’re late to return a book to the city’s libraries.  Mayor Stephanie Miner announced Tuesday the city will pay $7,000 per year to cover the cost of the fines, as well as prevent blocks on library cards.  She says the idea is to keep children reading so they stay on track at school, especially during the summer. 

“We cannot allow economic barriers to come between children and a love of reading," Miner said in a statement.  "To keep children reading at grade level and preventing the ‘summer slide’ we need to do whatever we can to keep books in the hands of young readers.” 

The city estimates more than $60,000 in fines are owed by the over 14,900 library cardholders under age 18.  About $7,000 is paid back each year.  Nearly 5,000 of those cards are blocked, meaning they owe more than $5 in fines, and cannot check out any library materials.  The mayor's plan forgives those fines, and will begin to contribute $7,000 to the library system over the next five years.  

Credit City of Syracuse flickr
City of Syracuse flickr
Miner made her announcement in front of the Soule Branch Library.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at