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Virginia Library Waives Overdue Fines in Exchange for Food

Photo by Flickr user stevendepolo

Waynesboro Public Library in Waynesboro, VA,  is getting in the holiday spirit by offering to waive overdue library fines if patrons bring in cans and nonperishable foods for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. One nonperishable food item is worth $2 in fines – an exchange that the library’s publicity coordinator, Marta Grove, says is a help to patrons as well. The Waynesboro Public Library serves a population of about 20,000 people and has an estimated 150,000 items available for patrons to borrow. Here’s what Marta Grove had to say about the "Food for Fines" program:

How long has the Waynesboro Public Library been doing "Food for Fines?"

It’s been going on at least 10 years. The food drive is a huge help to both the patrons and the people that get the food. Patrons are always asking, when are you doing food for fines?  It’s a good way for people to pay for fines without having to dish out the money, and help people at the same time.

How has the Waynesboro, VA, community been faring in this tough economic climate?

The food bank told me that they were giving out so much more food than before the recessions hit. As far as the library, we see a lot more people come in to use the computers because they don’t have Internet access at home. Jobs are scarce too.

We have so many free resources – computers, books, magazines, videos, free classes, free music programs, and movie nights.

How can the library be a resource to people who are struggling economically?

Definitely, the library is informational, educational, and also provides some entertainment. Everybody needs a little bit of information and entertainment. People who are working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. like to have a little bit of entertainment in the evenings and enrich their lives in some way.

How much food does the library contribute to the food bank through Food for Fines?

Over a period of three years, we’ve given 5,500 pounds of cans, boxed foods, and nonperishable and unbreakable food. That averages out to about 1,830 pounds of food a year.

Does the library lose money through this program?

We do lose money; we bring in about $1,000 to $1,500 a month in fines. Although we do lose some money, it’s obviously just a good will gesture for us to help out the community, both the people needing the food and the patrons.

Jeannie-choiJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Visit the Waynesboro Public Library website.


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