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Bring ’em back for the food bank

Drastic measures! Did you know that the director of the Bay County Library (Bay City, Michigan) is requesting permission to seek arrest warrants for offenders who ignore repeated overdue notices?

The frustrated staff wants the worst offenders to face criminal charges and up to 90 days in jail. It seems that Bay County Library customers keep an average of $25,000 in overdue materials out of the library system each year. Of course this costs taxpayers money, because the library often must buy copies to replace unreturned materials, leaving less money to purchase new materials.

At the Whistler Public Library we have opted to follow the more gentle and reasonable approach of the Pemberton Public Library’s "Food for Fines" initiative, more in keeping with the spirit of the holidays. The chief librarian at the Pemberton and District Public Library, Jan Naylor, said that, "While people are often happy to ‘donate’ to the library through their overdue fines, I would have to say that our patrons are being very generous and more than eager to pay their fines by donating to the local food bank. We have two big, overflowing baskets full of food already and there is definitely a feeling of goodwill around this initiative. Even kids want to participate!"

From December 20 th to 24 th , the Whistler Public Library will also be providing an "amnesty" from fines with the hopes that long overdue materials will be returned so other library customers can borrow them. We are asking that people returning overdue items bring in either food or cash for the Whistler Food Bank, to the value of the fines owing. For example, if you have a video with $4 in fines, you could donate the $4 in cash or bring in 2-3 cans of tomato sauce. However, we will not be waiving fines incurred in the past.

When I told Janet McDonald, executive director of Whistler Community Services Society, the organization responsible for the food bank, of our initiative, she said, "I think it's a fabulous idea, much needed and a great way for the community of Whistler to help us out."

Currently, the library cuts off an offending customer’s privileges (after more than $5 in fines owing) and sends up to four overdue notices. At present, the library sends out almost 500 overdue notices per month, and the value of the items overdue is almost $12,000. Daily fines of $0.25 to $1 per item are assessed. The maximum fine for any item is $5.

We are hoping that lots of overdue materials will be returned and that we are able to give a substantial donation to the Whistler Food Bank. As of January 2005, some of our fines rates will be increasing. Adult book fines will increase from $0.25 to $0.30 per day and the maximum fine for a magazine will increase from $1 to $3.

Thank you Starbucks

Many thanks to Michael Symonds, the Village Starbucks and all you coffee drinkers for the donation of $260 to the library. When Starbucks re-opened after a renovation, beverages were free with a donation to the library. We really appreciate Starbucks’s commitment to literacy and community organizations.

Adopt a book, buy a book bag

"Adopting a book" is the ideal gift for someone who has everything and doesn’t want anything. You can adopt a book in their name (prices range from $15 to $50) and we will give you a card to fill in and give to your friend or relative, and when the library purchases the new book, we will attach a bookplate acknowledging that the book was "adopted" by your friend.

We also have sturdy and attractive book bags for sale. They are black and grey or burgundy and black. There is a zipper and pocket on the front. The straps are long enough to slip over your shoulder. They are available for the reasonable price of $20.

Holiday hours

The Library will close early on Dec. 24 th and Dec. 31 st – at 2 p.m. – and will be closed Dec. 25 th , 26 th and Jan. 1 st .