Whatcom County library officials want to encourage kids to read, so they have decided to stop issuing fines for overdue library books in the two public library systems as of Jan. 1.
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to read. Incentive to pick up a book seems even more important considering kids can borrow mom or dad’s smartphone to watch their favorite TV show faster than they can turn the page.
The Bellingham Herald reported parents have told library staff that fines make them reluctant to get library cards for their kids.
Does giving them a free ride on overdue books actually encourage kids to read? When discussing the concept with one KIRO Radio mom, she brought up an interesting point: Parents don’t have to pay the fines.
In her family, the kids are in charge of paying for an overdue book. Some parents are teaching their kids responsibility by making them shell out their own allowance to pay the penalty.
It’s two lessons in one.
Whatcom County librarians are more concerned with the reading part, and less with the responsibility. So it’s unlikely they’ll flip-flop their policy until too many books go missing, or Twilight is checked out by 12-year-old girls and kept months after it’s due back.
The change will affect card holders 17 and younger, who check out children and teen materials.
Kids who fail to return items on time will be notified that they’re overdue. They will be charged the cost of replacing items that are 60 days overdue.
Young people still will face overdue fines if they check out materials meant for adults and don’t return them in time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.