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Food drive returns to libraries

Libraries waived nearly $5,000 in fines in 2008

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If you’re guilty of failing to return your library materials on time, there’s a way to get off a bit easier. Novanet libraries are offering a 10-day amnesty period for people who have outstanding fines.

Through the annual Food for Fines program, which runs Jan. 18 to 27, people can pay off their debt with cans of ravioli and other non-perishable food while they also help the needy.

The program began in 2001 when Dalhousie University library employees decided it was time to address the growing need for food banks in their community. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Novanet libraries. According to Sandra Dwyer, head of circulation at Dalhousie’s Killam Library, the program is very popular.

“The students who use it like it. Faculty and staff get fines sometimes as well. Everyone that’s used it likes it and usually we get people asking in September ‘when’s your Food For Fines drive?’ because we’ve made it an annual event.”

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Photo: Brandi Tressler

Items that are needed:

  • Canned Vegetables
  • Flour & Sugar
  • Pasta (Dried, Canned, Noodles, Rice)
  • Canned Meat & Fish
  • Peanut Butter
  • Baked Beans
  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned or Powdered Milk
  • Soups & Stews
  • Breakfast Cereal

It’s easy to participate. Simply bring your donations to the circulation desk at any of the participating libraries. For every item you donate, your library fine will be reduced by $2, to a maximum of $20. The maximum used to be $10, but Dwyer says they changed it to help students waive their fines and create more items for the food banks.

There’s a bonus: cash paid for fines will also be donated to the food banks.

“If you show up to pay your fines and you didn’t know about the food drive, you can donate your cash – a payment of up to $20,” says Dwyer.

The program is a way for people to give back to the community and get their library record back in good standing. And if you’re lucky, you’ll still have a can of soup left for dinner.

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