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My library gives $10 an hour for reading/fine reduction. NYC is scamming!


I really don't get the "read down your fines" program. First, if you're going to the library, presumably you're doing it to get books to read. Reading the books isn't an incentive to pay down the fines, it's the EXACT REASON you came to the library in the first place!

Second, even if you have fines for some other reason and don't want to actually read books (maybe you're renting DVDs instead), there's no way for anyone to stop you from gaming the system. Log on, SAY that you spent three hours reading, and voila! No way for anyone to verify otherwise.

So... I don't get it. If I just wanted a system where I logged and reviewed books, I'd use my account on Goodreads or Amazon. Has anyone else had experience with a system like the NPL's? Does it work?



At my library (in Yonkers), you have to be in a certain room and check in and out with a librarian. Yea, you could probably sit there staring blankly at a book or twiddling with your Iphone, but that is your own wasted time. I think it is a really smart idea, especially given that Yonkers has a lot of low income families and the main branch of the library is housed in the same building as one of the high schools. So kids can head over right after school, do the reading they might have done anyway, and avoid having to spend what little money they have on library fines. The library encourages reading (yes, the kids might have done it anyway but I'm sure some are incentivized) and the kids have a productive way to use their money. $4 an hour in NYC isn't much but the $10 an hour Yonkers offers is more than most kids can make at a job. They extend the offer to adults as well.

Given that many libraries will eventually freeze your account when you reach a certain threshold on fines, this is a great way to keep people reading. If people would otherwise just walk away and not pay, thus forgoing access to the library, this works doubly well.



I can't help but wonder about the accuracy and relevance of the Big Mac index. Surely there's a cultural dimension that's a major factor? That is, for the Chinese a Big Mac is probably exotic American food, while for many Americans it's only a couple of steps above dumpster diving.


I read the blurb on the Nascar-car crash study. You fell into the causation-correlation trap.

Most races are televised on Sunday (or Saturday night). Five days later is Friday. It's no surprise because people are probably a lot more likely to be driving aggressively on Fridays. Nascar almost certainly has nothing to do with it. Besides, there are probably a lot of local tracks that have racing on Friday nights, and would have a much more direct connection.

If they wanted to show it was due to Nascar, they would need to compare Fridays during Nascar season with Fridays during the off-season. Then you would need to control for seasonal differences (because Nascar runs during the summer, when people drive more). Another way of doing it would be to see if there is a shift in the increase when Nascar falls on a Monday or Tuesday (rare, but sometimes occurs when there's a rain delay).