By Ellie Mullen, Guest Blogger
Children at the Southeast Anchor Library are rolling in the dough... Pratt Bucks that is! Since the introduction of Pratt’s Read Down Fines initiative in January, the children’s department has seen a significant effort by children to bring delinquent and barred cards back into good standing. Staff were surprised to find that many of our regular after school crowd didn't have active library cards.
After announcing the program, children started coming out of the woodwork confessing that they had fines on their cards. Most of these children just assumed they would never be able to pay off these fines; the idea that they could read away their debts delighted them!
Jennifer and Cristian Hernandez were quick to hop on the Pratt Buck bandwagon. Both Jennifer, age 10, and Cristian, age 9, have read their cards back into good standing in the months following the introduction of Read Down Fines. The brother and sister pair come in most afternoons after school and participate in various programs, hang out with friends, and chat with librarians but until the introduction of Read Down Fines they were never able to check out their own books.
Working together diligently, with Jennifer keeping Cristian on task, the siblings were able to put a dent in their collective fines. Like most children, the Hernandez kids were enamored with the idea of "reading for money" and would wait eagerly as the librarian filled out their Pratt Bucks and then rush to circulation to "spend" them. On one banner day, Jennifer and Cristian cashed in a total of eight dollars in Pratt Bucks!
The Hernandez family aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the new program, Joshua Schuler, age 9, renewed his love of the library with the help of a handful of Pratt Bucks. Joshua’s mother Susan confided that Joshua, an avid reader, was embarrassed to come to the library after he lost his card privileges due to a lost book. Joshua would come reluctantly, and check out books on his mother’s card, but the thrill of checking out books was tainted once his card was barred.
After learning about Read Down Fines Joshua hit the ground running, he came weekly and would read for over an hour at each visit. Joshua finished reading the entire Wimpy Kid series and started on Big Nate by the time he had read his card back into good standing. After using his Pratt Bucks to pay off the last of his fines Joshua triumphantly placed Big Nate From the Top on hold and is anxiously awaiting his first check out in over three years!
Staff at the Southeast Anchor Library are thrilled with the success of the program and are sure that Joshua and the Hernandez family are just the first of many children who will be given a clean slate thanks to Read Down Fines!