Photo: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

Welcome Week will take place at all NYPL branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island from October 18 to October 23; branches will offer free programs and activities, and give away 15,000 draw-string bags full of school supplies

The special week follows NYPL’s elimination of late fines, a key barrier to access for many New Yorkers

The New York Public Library is welcoming New Yorkers into its branches with a week of special programs, offerings, and giveaways from October 18 to October 23.

Welcome Week is being held in all of the Library’s available branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Branches are offering special programs and activities to encourage visits and give visitors a taste of all that libraries have to offer. Examples of programs include outdoor storytimes, crafts, writing workshops, and more. For a full list of programs, visit nypl.org/welcome.

One highlight will be at the Library’s central circulating branch, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, where a scavenger hunt tied to the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures (a free, permanent exhibition of over 250 rare objects from the Library’s research collections at the iconic 42nd Street building) is taking place for all ages the whole week. Patrons can visit the greeter desk, get a checklist, and find the Treasures-related items located on the SNFL shelves. 

In addition, the Library is giving away 15,000 draw-string bags filled with school supplies, including notebooks, USB drives, and pencil cases with rulers, pens, and pencils. 

Welcome Week follows last week’s historic announcement that The New York Public Library has eliminated late fines moving forward and wiped away all prior outstanding fines, providing New Yorkers with a fresh start and removing a key barrier to access for far too many. If not for the decision to eliminate fines (which data shows are not an effective incentive for book returns), about 150,000 New Yorkers in The New York Public Library system would have had their library cards blocked because they accrued $15 or more in fines. Countless others wouldn’t even enter a branch for fear of the financial burden.

While it’s too early to evaluate the impact of the October 5 fines elimination announcement, the Library did see a 50% increase in new library cards on the day of the announcement over an average day, and a 25% increase on October 6.  The day of the announcement was also one of the highest days in 2021 for library card sign-ups.

Welcome Week is being held to encourage all New Yorkers, including those who stayed away because of fines, to visit their local libraries, return all of their outstanding books without fear of charges, be together following the isolation of the height of the pandemic, and take advantage of the robust suite of materials, programs, and services offered for free. 

“The pandemic obviously disrupted the lives of all New Yorkers, keeping us apart and showing us just how at risk our most vulnerable neighbors are,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “As we all move forward towards a more hopeful next chapter, the Library is here to support all New Yorkers with free books, wi-fi, classes, and services. The time is now, especially with the elimination of late fines, a serious barrier to access for far too many, for us to reach out and welcome as many New Yorkers as possible. We hope to see many, many new and familiar faces during Welcome Week, and look forward to playing a crucial role in New York City’s continued recovery.” 

For more information on the fine elimination policy, visit nypl.org/goodbyefines. Some specifics can be found below.

  • NYPL patrons of all ages no longer need to pay any late fines on overdue materials
  • In the past, library cards were blocked if they accrued $15 or more in fines; that will no longer be the case
  • NYPL patrons will still need to pay replacement fees if they lose material (if material is 30 days overdue it will be considered lost). However, if materials are returned, no fees will apply
  • Cards will be blocked from borrowing additional physical materials if patrons accrue $100 in replacement fees; note that even with a block on their cards, patrons can still access computers, e-books, and other digital services.

The Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries also eliminate fines (with slightly different protocols), and are also offering having special weeks to welcome in patrons beginning on October 18. Information on their offerings can be found at bklynlibrary.org or queenslibrary.org.

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.

Maps for the SNFL scavenger hunt: