A CITY COUNCIL committee shot down a bill yesterday that would have required the Free Library to collect fines from children - a proposal librarians and advocates said would hurt poor youth.

The bill, sponsored by Councilman David Oh, followed the city's announcement that the Free Library would no longer collect late fees and fines from youngsters.

The fines constitute $70,000 a year. The Free Library has a proposed $35 million budget.

"Why would the library not collect this money from people who are not complaining about it when we on Council are challenged to replace the funding for the library?" Oh asked, adding that fining kids would teach them how to be responsible.

"The Free Library Board of Trustees made the decision to eliminate fines on children's materials . . . to ensure that every child in the city has unfettered access to the library and its resources," said Robert Heim, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Free Library. "We have no interest in attempting to restore the budget cuts by imposing fines on children who have demonstrated an interest in the library and reading, but are unable to pay."

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