New York

New Yorkers Returned Almost 100,000 Old Library Books After Late Fees Were Eliminated

Some of the books date back to the 1970s.

Everview/Shutterstock
Everview/Shutterstock
Everview/Shutterstock

Ever since New York’s public library announced in October 2021 that late fees on borrowed materials would be canceled, New Yorkers have felt more prone to abide by the rules and return all sorts of books. So far, almost 100,000 books-a lot of which are decades old-have found their way home in libraries across the city, The New York Times reports.

Some books are so old and dated that they had to be returned to different addresses. Others came with apologetic notes. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long,” one note read. “They became family.”

The removal of late fees lifted a weight off the chest of many New Yorkers, but a sense of embarrassment is still lingering. Billy Parrott, the director of Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in Midtown, told The New York Times that most books were returned by either mail or book drop. But librarians won’t judge anyone. “We just care about the books,” Parrott said.

The no-fee initiative was the libraries’ way of attracting patrons back to the 200 branches across the city after a prolonged time of pandemic-mandated limited hours and access. The initiative was a success: In addition to the thousands of books returned, New York’s libraries witnessed a 9-15% increase in returning visitors.

Prior to October 2021, the rate for late fees for most borrowed materials in New York City was 25 cents a day, except for Brooklyn, where libraries were charging 15 cents. Children’s books were instead priced 10 cents a day, while DVDs fees amounted to a few dollars. If a book wasn’t returned within 30 days, it would be marked as lost, and the library would charge the patron a replacement fee. Anyone who owed the library more than $15 would be marked and wouldn’t be able to check out materials anymore.

While late fees were profitable (the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries collected over $3 million in 2019), they weren’t necessary. After Nashville, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco libraries decided to forgo late fees-and after the pandemic had New York suspend library fines-the Big Apple followed suit.

“We learned that we could adjust our budget to do everything we needed to do and cover the lost revenue, because we’re not in the revenue-generating business,” New York Public Library President Tony Marx told The New York Times. “We are not in the fine-collection business. We’re in the encouraging-to-read-and-learn business, and we were getting in our own way.”

Canceling late fees also meant taking into account the difficulties faced by low-income communities. “For those who can’t afford the fines-disproportionately low-income New Yorkers-they become a real barrier to access that we can no longer accept,” said Marx in an official statement. “This is a step towards a more equitable society, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we are proud to make it happen.”

According to The Washington Post, 400,000 New York residents had their library cards blocked before the initiative rolled out, as they owed more than $15 in late fees. More than half of those New Yorkers lived in high-needs communities. “As New York grapples with the inequities laid bare by the pandemic, it is all the more urgent that we ensure the public library is open and freely available to all,” said Marx.

Without the fines, citizens definitely feel more encouraged to frequent libraries across the city. “I can’t tell you how stressed out these fines made our customers,” Tienya Smith, a librarian in the branch in Long Island City, Queens, told The New York Times. “Not having these fees erases all of that.”Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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