May 21, 2022

New York Public Library CEO Anthony Marx on “The Case Against Library Fines”

Anthony Marx shared his views about library fines in an approximately 1200 word op/ed published by Quartz today.

From the Op/Ed:

In October, The New York Public Library, along with the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, took a step in the right direction, offering a one-time fine amnesty for kids and teens. All students got a fresh start, no questions asked, hopefully prompting them to return and use our array of free resources.

Kids rekindled their relationship with reading, learning, and libraries after we offered the amnesty. One month in, we saw successes. About 41,000 kids and teens, or 10% of those who previously had fines, used their library cards to access library resources. Of those 41,000, 11,000 had blocked cards or a lapsed relationship with the library, meaning they hadn’t used the library for at least a year. So we know 11,000 kids and teens have rekindled their relationship with reading, learning, and libraries one month after we offered the amnesty. We will continue to monitor this, as we expect numbers to continue to increase as we continue to get the word out about the program.


Over the next year, I plan to meet with my counterparts at library systems across the US to discuss this issue, and develop innovative ideas that would allow systems big and small to eliminate this barrier to access. I hope that we can count on our partners in government and on the private side—those who support early literacy, the end of the digital divide, and opportunity for all—to work with us, perhaps to help libraries recoup lost revenue and examine eliminating library fines.

Read the Complete Op/Ed


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.