Here’s a library land hot take for you: I’m just not sold on the fine free library concept. I’ve done a lot of research into idea behind the movement and I totally get the pros of going this route, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t fully understand the whole thing or wants to wait to see what other options there are out there. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading about the fine free movement and I’ll also keep exploring the options that are out there.
For now, the Food For Fines program is something that is working for the Benson Memorial Library. Started in the Summer of 2017, the program has a simple idea behind it: for every canned good a patron donates, $1 is removed from their fines or someone else’s fines. At the end of the program, all of the canned goods that are donated are then taken to the Titusville Area Food Bank to help those in need.
I like this program for the following reasons:
- It gives people a chance to get rid of fines without having to deal with money.
- It gets those people whose fines are removed because of canned good donations a chance to get back into the library.
- It not only helps the library, but it also helps another local organization that is committed to helping others in our community.
We ran the program in the Summer of 2018 and over 200 canned goods were donated. This was noticed by Armstrong (the local internet provider in our area) and they reached out to us in August 2018 to be a part of their Hunger Action Month program. They asked us if we’d do the same thing we did with Food For Fines, but this time team up with them to get more donations and waive more fines.
The answer was simple: of course we would be part of this. With Armstrong’s reach in the community and our desire to get people back into the library, this program was something that I knew would work. And it did: in September 2018 963 items of food and $693 dollars were donated to help the Titusville Area Food Bank. Armstrong got to give back to the community, the library got to help people with their fines, and the food bank got some great donations and financial help. The biggest winner of this effort are the members of our community that will benefit from this program. Everything we do should be community focused. Money is important in our society, but the greatest worth lies in the people all around us. Help each other out with every chance you have.
The official press release we sent out is below:
TITUSVILLE, PA– In September 2018, the Benson Memorial Library and Armstrong teamed up for Hunger Action Month to bring you Food For Fines, a program that not only collected canned goods and monetary donations for the Titusville Area Food Bank but also helped remove fines on the library cards of children at the Benson Memorial Library. For every food item donated that was donated at Benson Memorial Library or the Titusville & Meadville Armstrong office, the library would remove $1 in fines from a child’s library card. The program was a great success, and overall 963 items of food were donated and $693 dollars were collected that will go to the Titusville Area Food Bank. In addition to the donations made to the Titusville Area Food Bank, the Benson Memorial Library will also be removing over $1,000 in fines from the library cards of children at the Benson Memorial Library.
“We will always try to be there anytime there is a chance we can help the people that live in our community. This program was great because it not only helps people who need something to eat but it also gives so many children in our community a chance to start over with their library cards and get back to reading and more. The library is a place for everyone and we’re so very excited to see so many kids have the chance to come back to the library.” -Justin Hoenke, Executive Director, Benson Memorial Library
Armstrong provides television, telephone and high-speed Internet service to residential and commercial customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland, and as of Q4 2017 is America’s 11th largest cable television provider, according to SNL Kagan, an offering from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
About Benson Memorial Library
Located in the heart of Titusville, Pennsylvania, the Benson Memorial Library is a unique and vital part of the quality of life in the Titusville area. Since 1904, the Benson Memorial Library has served as the community center and facilitator of lifelong learning in the area. The mission of the Benson Memorial Library is to provide the community with open access to quality informational, educational, and cultural resources.