A Win-Win Situation
Like most public libraries, we charge a fine (10¢ per day) for overdue materials. The maximum overdue amount we charge is $3 per item. Most people return items within a few days and only have to pay a small amount. However, we do have patrons who are either unable or unwilling to pay their overdue fees. When this happens, access to library services, including borrowing and internet access, is blocked when fines or fees exceed $10. We don’t like restricting access to the Library, but overdue fines help us maintain the collection. To help patrons eliminate overdue library fines and help feed those in need, we are having a Food for Fines drive during November.
Our Food for Fines drive is a winning situation for everyone. We understand that not everyone has the funds to reduce their fines under $10 to restore their ability to use the library. Patrons can donate canned goods or other non-perishable food items instead of paying money to regain their access to library materials. One food item equals $1 off overdue fines, for up to $5 per account. However, this does not apply to any fees, lost or damaged items on a patron’s account.
The other part of this winning situation is that all of the food items will be donated to local food pantries, who have seen an increase in the number of people needing assistance within the past few years. According to Feeding America’s most recent report from 2015, 28.3 percent of students in Leavenworth County are eligible for the free school lunch program. This means that approximately 3,810 of the 19,117 children who live in the County rely on the schools to provide a nourishing meal they might not receive at home. Another 13 percent, or 2,485 kids, are eligible for reduced school lunches.
Obviously, adults need food just as much as children do. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways.” Fourteen percent of Leavenworth County’s overall population lives with food insecurity, which is about 10,920 of the total 78,227 residents.
We encourage all patrons who have accumulated overdue fines to participate in our food drive. We will, of course, also accept food donations from patrons who don’t have fines. We take pride in providing free materials, resources and activities for everyone to enjoy, as well as this opportunity to help others in the community who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Everyone who participates is a winner in our book.