November 6, 2012

Food for Fines library program in Syracuse


A library in Syracuse has launched a “Food for Fines” program to allow patrons to pay off overdue book fines by bringing in nonperishable food. The Onondaga Free Library is running the program for the first time this year, and they’re inviting people to “bring in unopened, undamaged, unexpired non-perishable food items and get your library fines reduced.”

The charity operates on a simple principle: for every food item you bring to the library, a dollar will be subtracted from your overdue book fees. There is a limit of $10 per patron, so if you’ve been holding onto an old book for years and accumulating exponential fines, the charitable spirit of Food for Fines will only get you so far, no matter how many cans of string beans you bring in. They also aren’t waiving fines for lost or damaged books, or letting people without fines build up credits for the future.

The Onondaga Free Library isn’t the only one doing Food for Fines — GalleyCat links to a discussion board at ALA Connect that mentions libraries in Chicago, South Carolina, and Missouri, among others, and it offers advice to librarians interested in implementing a similar program. The program in Syracuse will last until the end of the month; all the donated food will go to a local church’s food drive.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.