Chicago Public Library offering amnesty for overdue materials - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago Public Library offering amnesty for overdue materials

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Public Library is going to offer an amnesty program for the first time in 20 years.

Anyone who has an overdue book, movie, CD or other library item can now return it without facing any fines or penalties.

"This program will allow parents and children the chance to start the school year with a clean record and enable them to check out materials that will help with their studies and classes," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The library estimates it is owed $1.4 million in unpaid fines, just since Since January 2011, and those overdue materials are worth an estimated $2 million or more, according to a statement from the library. CPL branches collect about $2 million in fines each year.

The last time the city offered an amnesty program was 20 years ago, in 1992, when juvenile library cards were wiped of fines if materials were returned.

"In conducting this amnesty, we expect to recover thousands of outstanding items, the value of which will most likely exceed the lost revenue in fines. This will recoup the City's investment in the materials and, most importantly, make them available for other patrons to use," said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon.

Amnesty programs have been successful in other cities. In Washington, D.C., a two-month amnesty in early 2012 recovered 21,075 items and updated more than 34,000 patron accounts, most of which had been inactive for more than three years. And in Boston, when fines were waived for 57,000 kids and young adults, card registration increased 85 percent and circulation by 10 percent.

In addition to the 1992 amnesty in Chicago, there was a one-week program in June 1985 for all patrons. About 77,000 books were returned, worth about $1.5 million.

The amnesty program will run from August 20 through September 7.

The Sun Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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