by Nancy Stiles
An overdue book and a hefty fine is no longer an excuse not to go to the library! The St. Louis Public Library (1301 Olive Street, 314-241-2288) is taking canned goods in lieu of fines the whole month of July.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Food for Fines program allows adult library patrons to pay off their fines up to $25. For each canned good or personal care item, the library will take $1 off overdue fines (donations don't apply to lost or damaged materials). Of course, patrons who don't have fines are welcome to contribute as well.
Donations will go to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which distributes more than 25 million pounds of food to Missouri and Illinois food pantries and homeless shelters every year. Last year, Food for Fines received over 14,000 items, and they're hoping to top that in 2013. Items can be taken to any St. Louis Public Library location.
Food for Fines started six years ago when a staff member suggested the idea to the library's Emerging Ideas committee. The first year it only lasted a week, but was so popular that it has since expanded into a month-long event.
"We've had lots and lots of people who don't even owe fines, and they feel compelled to donate," says John Koniak, the library's communications coordinator. "It works out well for the library and patrons. A lot of time people feel bad about having let their fines rack up, and so they're able to pay down their fines, guilt-free, and they're able to help out other folks in the community."
Continue for the St. Louis Area Foodbank's most-needed items.
Find St. Louis Public Library locations here.