...warrants its own post!
Sikes, interviews a girl named Alicia who "absently picked up a library card off the end table. 'God', she whispered, tracing her sister's name in raised letters with her finger, 'I wish I had a library card." The former "Best Reader" from the third grade had "racked up so many fines for overdue library books that she was frightened to go back." Sikes offers to take her to a bookstore, and eventually, over a year later, she is taken up on the offer does buy some books for Alicia. If Sikes were planning on spending money anyway, I'm not sure why she just didn't take Alicia to the library and offer to pay any outstanding fines.
Getting a library card is like finding money, you can read all you want for free, as long as you return the books on time. I suspect Alicia could have made some sort of deal with the library to pay the fines over time, or even be granted amnesty. It is always good to ask.