Fatima Real and her four children Andrew, 14, Josie, 12, Abraham 11, and Adam, 6, spend a June afternoon reading at the Beale Library. The Kern County Library will forgive fees during the month of August.

Do you have any fees owed to the Kern County Library? You could be in luck.

In August, the county’s library system is beginning its first ever “amnesty month,” 31 days of fee forgiveness and guilt-free returns for many Kern residents.

For the entire month of August, people of all ages have the opportunity to clear their fees with the library by returning items that have been missing.

Adults will also be able to donate an item to clear certain fees, while kids and teenagers can clear their fees by signing up for a reading program.

“We know that fees that were originally intended to encourage a prompt return of materials sometimes does the exact opposite and creates a serious barrier of access to many, especially those who can least afford it and need the library the most,” Marketing Coordinator for Kern County Libraries Jasmin LoBasso told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “This is part of one of the many efforts we are making to foster a friendlier culture of goodwill.”

The amnesty program went through a two-week test run last summer, which proved to be so popular the library chose to expand it in 2019.

During last year’s event, the library forgave $24,000 worth of fines and received 119 lost items.

Children that participated in the program read 3,142 books, according to the library, and over 1,000 people took part.

Kern residents could use a fee forgiveness program.

An analysis of library fees conducted by The Californian in June revealed over 40,000 people owed more than $1.1 million to the library.

Library officials have contended that fees can prevent people from visiting the library if they cannot afford to pay. Amnesty month will hopefully boost the library’s attendance.

Adults hoping to get off the naughty list can donate items like baby wipes, crayons and markers, coloring books, glue sticks, LEGO packs and trash bags to the library to clear their fees.

A complete list of acceptable items is available on the library’s website or at library branches.

Children and teens can pick up a “Read As Much As You Can” reading list at local branches to sign up for the reading program to clear fees.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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