McAllen Public Library finished its April Amnesty Challenge with 2,564 overdue books and other materials returned. Among the oldest were several dating back to 2011.
From April 1st to April 30th, every item returned to an MPL location had its associated fines removed. Out of the items returned, 329 were long overdue and marked as lost.
The committee set an initial goal of getting 200 lost or overdue items returned. If the goal was met, Library Director Kate Horan promised to dye her hair hot pink.
It took less than a week to pass that goal, and missing items kept coming in until the last minute of the challenge.
The Amnesty Challenge was partly designed to get missing items back on the shelves and into the hands of new patrons.
More importantly, the program was an effort to get people back in the library. Patrons with fines on their accounts are less likely to return to the library, even for small amounts.
“Amnesty is a way of saying: You’ve been away from the library for too long,” says Kate Horan, Library Director. “We want people to come back and rediscover all that the library has to offer, including ebooks and programs for all ages.”
As part of the same initiative, children and teens will be able to “Read Down Your Fines” through MPL’s Summer Reading Program 2016.
“Studies show that children do better in school when they read over summer vacation,” says Horan. “We don’t want children and teens to go through the summer without being able to take home a library book.”
Young patrons who participate in the program and submit reading logs will have fines reduced or removed from their accounts. The kickoff event will be held on May 30th at the Main Library.