Food for Fines: Food donations pay overdue charges in November

food collection

The Berkshire Athenaeum will offer a modified fines amnesty from Sunday, November 1, through Monday, November 30. During this four-week period the library will accept non perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books. According to Library Director Ron Latham, “This ‘Food for Fines’ initiative has become an annual tradition at the Berkshire Athenaeum, which for over twenty years has linked the extended fines amnesty period to the Thanksgiving holiday.”
“Borrowing library items is free but if they aren’t returned by the due date we assess a fee or overdue charge”, explained Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation at the Athenaeum, “Sometimes patrons forget to or can’t pay off of this charge.” The food-for-fines program is the library’s attempt to create a more positive way for patrons to take care of this obligation.
“With a Thanksgiving holiday coming up that encourages Americans to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, donating food in lieu of fines is a feel good solution that’s a perfect fit for this holiday,” says Latham. “It’s a win, win, win situation because the borrower wins by clearing up an overdue fine record, the library wins by getting overdue our items returned, and area needy win by getting donated food at a time when the food supply is short.”
Food will be collected in boxes located at the Adult Circulation Desk and at the Children’s Service Desk. When “paying” off a fine with a donated food item, a staff librarian should be alerted prior to depositing the item into the collection boxes. Food will be accepted not only for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation, but also may be applied to outstanding overdue fines from other transactions. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donated food.
During the amnesty period, in addition to food brought in lieu of fines, the Athenaeum will encourage general donations of food not associated with overdue library books. All donated food will be turned over to the Rotary Club of Pittsfield as part of that organization’s annual food collection drive that distributes non-perishable food to area food banks providing services to area needy.


About Berkshire Athenaeum

We are the public library for the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
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