County approves fine-free student library cards

FILE PHOTO: Jake Lara, 7, looks through books at the Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

As an incentive for students across Los Angeles County to regularly visit their local libraries, the Board of Supervisors approved fine-free library cards for youth at their meeting this week.

Now all county-operated libraries in unincorporated areas will allow guests 17 and younger to check out three printed items at a time for as long as they like without a late fee. Additionally, the special library card allows computer access with parent permission and free and discounted tickets for museums across the county.

“Everybody loves it,” John Elford, community library manager at Stevenson Ranch Library said. “It definitely encourages reading.”

Many children have come into the Stevenson Ranch Library asking about waiving their late fees, according to Elford, and parents love the program because it eases the burden of paying their children’s fines.

With the new program, students have also been more willing to check out more books they wouldn’t have before, Elford said.

“It’s a good thing all around,” the manager said.

L.A. County’s libraries not only offer books, but computers, printers and after school homework help, cited Supervisor Janice Hahn, who authored the motion for the program.

“By getting rid of late fees and penalties, our student library cards are finally a risk-free way for young people to access the tools they need to boost their education,” Hahn said in a statement.

Without the late fees, libraries will be more accessible to all Los Angeles County residents, according to Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-authored the motion.

“It is important that every student in the county, regardless of economic status, be able to tap into these services,” Solis said. “I will continue to work to make sure our libraries are safe and accessible spaces for all county residents.”

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