It Has Computers, Gives Advice and Is Free

Unusual story of a young man out of work who wanted to prepare for a job exam at his local library. When it was discovered that he owed the library $80, he was allowed to work off the amount reshelving books.

From the New York Times:

Anthony Morris’s job search hit a snag this month when the Queens Borough Public Library notified him that he could not get a new library card until he paid about $80 in fines.

Mr. Morris, 31, had been unemployed for eight months and did not have the money. But he had amassed an armful of library books he needed to prepare for an exam that was part of the application process for a job at Con Edison, and he also needed a library card to browse online classified sites. So he asked if he could work off his debt.

After 22 hours of sorting books in the reference section at the Jamaica branch, Mr. Morris got his library card — and was asked to apply for a part-time position at the library.

“We’ve been in the job-search business for decades,” said Paul LeClerc, the president of the New York Public Library, noting that President Obama has said that a librarian helped him find his first job as a community organizer. “This is a continuation.”


This is so cool and such an uplifting story...I hope he works out well and stays


He had to work 22 hours to pay off an $80 debt? Do minimum wage laws not apply in this situation?

He's lucky they let him do that at all...most libraries do not have a barter for fines program....They could have sent his account to a collection agency instead and added an additional Collection Agency fee of $15 to his fees.


Big no no.. Read Away Your Fines is only supposed to be for children and now countless branches at QBPL are worried adults will try to work off their fines

Mind you they could have just said he had no job so had no reason for not turning the books on time!

This is a great example of thinking outside the box to help a patron for the larger good. So often we are so unbending. They could have also waived his fines, which as most of us know happens all the time. But I guess $80 means he probably lost material... that is a bit much for overdues.

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