NOPL's Main Library to close for two weeks in April_lowres

The main branch of the New Orleans Public Library.

Last year the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) eased fines for late materials by providing auto-renewal for books and other items that weren't on hold by another patron.

Now it's going one step farther: discontinuing late fines entirely for "youth materials."

"With 44% of New Orleans third graders being unable to read at a 3rd-grade level and 40% of New Orleans high school students being held back at least one grade," NOPL said in a statement, "the Library wants to do all that it can to ensure that youth materials are always accessible to everyone."

The new policy goes into place Sept. 1.

"Late fines for books, CDs, and DVDs are $.20 per day and while that is a relatively small amount, it can quickly add up over time and often results in not only lost materials, but lost Library users," NOPL's statement says. "This especially impacts children and teens who can’t always control when they can get to a Library to return materials."

Any materials that are checked out for more than 90 days will be charged to the user's account.

NOPL is also participating in Mayor LaToya Cantrell's "summer amnesty" program, which provides a one-time waiver program for fees up to $100. That program ends Sept. 3. To get the fees taken off your library account, visit any NOPL branch.

Follow Kevin Allman on Twitter: @kevinallman

Email Gambit editor Kevin Allman at: kevina@gambitweekly.com.