The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library, will offer a modified fines amnesty from Friday, Nov. 1 through Saturday, Nov. 30. During this month of Thanksgiving, the library will accept non-perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books.
“‘Food for Fines’ has become an annual tradition at the Berkshire Athenaeum, and when the statistics tell us that 10 percent of Berkshire County households likely went to bed hungry last night, this is one small way we can make a positive and necessary difference in our community,” said Library Director Alex Reczkowski. “With Thanksgiving coming up, supporting our local food pantries feels so right to us here at the athenaeum,” said Reczkowski. “We’re mindful that a significant population in our community is food insecure, with a third of those individuals being children.”
The food-for-fines program, now in its 24th year, provides a fun and meaningful way for overdue library materials to be returned. Food is accepted for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation as well as outstanding overdue fines from other transactions. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donated food.
“While overdue fines are intended to encourage people to bring their library books back on time, sometimes our fines generate the opposite reaction, and borrowers become reluctant to return library books because of the fines attached.” explained Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation at the Athenaeum. “The food-for-fines program is the library’s attempt to create a more positive feeling about getting overdue library materials returned, and get library borrowers to clean out their bookshelves and bring back library items that may have been long forgotten.”
Food will be collected in boxes located at the Adult Circulation Desk and at the Children’s Service Desk. When “paying” off a fine with a donated food item, patrons should alert staff prior to depositing the item into the collection boxes. Food will be accepted both for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation or to outstanding overdue fines. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donated food.
During the amnesty period, in addition to food brought in lieu of fines, the athenaeum will encourage general donations of food not associated with overdue library books. All donated food will be turned over to the Rotary Club of Pittsfield as part of that organization’s annual food collection drive that distributes non-perishable food to area food banks.
The athenaeum is located at 1Wendell Ave. For more information, please call 413-499-9480.