Library drops fines in exchange for food donations

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As of Feb. 1, the Mineral County Library will no longer charge fines for overdue library items and all overdue books currently on patrons accounts have been removed. Instead, when books and other items are overdue, people are being asked to bring non-perishable food items to the library in lieu of fines. Which in turn will be donated to the local food bank. However, charges for lost or damaged books will remain the same.

“Some of our patrons don’t have a lot of money and they worry about paying fines,” Library Director Guna Chaberek said. “We don’t want people to not use the library because they are afraid of the fines, so we dropped them.”

She said this is a trend happening nationwide and doesn’t seem to have in impact on people returning their books to the library. “We have other procedures in place for items to be returned,” she said.

People are encouranged to bring an item for the food bank, but it is not mandetory. Fines collected only represent .047 percent of the library budget — so it will not be a financial hardship to drop them.

Libraries are always finding ways to encourage people to read more books and February is “I Love to Read Month.” School libraries host a number of events to encourage their students to read more. Another program the Mineral County Library has recently joined is “Read Across America.”

As books increasingly compete for attention from children and adults in the digital age of social media and television, these programs hope to fill the gap. “Read Across America” is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA). This is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading through monthly themes.

For example, “Hygiene and Health” is the topic for February. This is complete with age-appropriate books available for young children, middle grade and teens. In addition to recommended books there is also information regarding authors and teaching resources that represent an array of experiences and cultures.

“In our diverse and complex society, student need books that provide both windows and mirrors if we are going to create more readers, writers, and people who feel included and recognized and who understand that the world is far richer the time to seek out new books to share, let alone create fun, exciting learning experiences around them,” was stated by the NEA.

Recommended books for each month are listed on the Mineral County Library website at mineralcountylibrary.org. The library will also have the main book available, along with other books relating to the monthly topic.

“People like to get suggestions on what to read and this is a way for them to see what’s new and available,” said Chaberek.

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