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Not for grown-ups: Libraries are letting kids pay off fines by reading

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Kids and teenagers who borrow books from Anoka County libraries and don't return them on time now have an easy way to pay back those fines: read.

It's the "Read Down Your Fines" program, in which anyone under the age of 17 who spends 15 minutes reading at the library erases $1 from their fines (listening to audio books or being read to also counts).

The program runs through the end of July.

The library system charges 10 cents per day for children (30 cents per day for adults), and once fines reach $10, visitors will no longer be able to borrow books until it's paid off.

The Star Tribune says of the 41,090 library cardholders who are 17 and younger, 3,990 have more than $10 in fines. Library officials told the newspaper this program helps students clear up their fines before the school year starts.

It also encourages reading, and it's one of the many initiatives library systems around the country and here in Minnesota are doing to promote reading and other skills, while helping students and families reduce their fines.

Earlier this year, in correlation with I Love To Read Month, Dakota County libraries waived library fees for those 17 and under who visited the library, noting some may have avoided coming to the library because they had unpaid fines, the Pioneer Press reported.

Last fall, the St. Paul Public Library's reduce-your-fine program was used to encourage teenagers to learn and hone their creative skills with modern technology by completing something off a list of suggested tasks.

The Anoka County Library system plans to do the "Read Down Your Fines" program again in October in correlation with national Teen Read Week, the Star Tribune says.

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