“Learning is a right. Reading brings you to new worlds,” said Octavia Loving, a 17-year-old student at Special Music High School, as she stood amid the stacks at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, one of the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of children with blocked cards, according to library officials. “They shouldn’t block us from reading because of money.”
On Thursday, the city’s three library systems — the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; the Queens Library; and the Brooklyn Public Library — will forgive all fines for children 17 and under and unblock their cards. The one-time amnesty is being underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines.