Children’s librarians at the Milwaukee Public Library say they are starting to see a number of kids come back after their fines were wiped out.

The Equity in Education team at the AmFam Institute identified access to libraries as a particular problem for kids in Milwaukee and donated $10,000 to the library to wipe out the fines of 227 students living in the city’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. These fines accrued through missing or lost items and stopped students from checking out physical books at any of the MPL branches.

“It is a stigma to not be able to come into the library because you don’t have the resources to take care of your fines and you may feel some judgment where we’re a no judgment zone. Some children may feel some heavy, you know, concerns and it was out of their control,” said Joy Zanders, the Children’s Librarian at the MLK branch of the Milwaukee Public Library. “We’ve started to see more children come in and we’re starting to see more people upgrade the library cards and use checkout more items or items going out on holds. So it’s a wonderful gesture. Wonderful. I’m just really happy that they’re coming back in.”

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