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The Scarlet & Black

Drake Library begins Food for Fines

This December Drake Library will begin Food for Fines, in which patrons can pay down late fees with food donations.

For the first time since moving to 930 Park Street, Drake Community Library will host the donation drive, Food for Fines, to lower barriers to library access and support the local community.

The food drive starts today and will continue throughout December. Donations will go to the food pantry shelves of Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA). Each item donated waives $2.00 from the cardholder’s overdue fines.

According to Marilyn Kennett, library director, $3.78 is the average charge for overdue fines per cardholder. The library charges 10 cents for adult books and five cents for children’s books per day. Though the target audience is those who are at “the point of no return,” meaning cardholders who have charges over $10 and cannot check out books until they pay their fines, Kennett encourages people with no charges to donate food or money to waive another person’s fines.

“We feel privileged to be able to serve here and provid[e] open and equal access to all resources, and the community responds in many ways by just plain using our services,” said Kennett. “Especially with Food for Fines, we don’t want any barriers to checking out. We feel like we need to have fines to have some type of incentive to make sure people return books on time, but we have to recognize that sometimes things get out of control on a personal level and you can’t always return your books when you’re supposed to … [Food for Fines] is an incentive to think about their fines in a different way and maybe it’s easier for people than bringing in cash.”

Kennett said that libraries across the nation are the cornerstones of democracy, since they provide unrestricted access to information and education. Drake Community Library follows that mission by being a meeting point for organizations and interest groups, as well as fundraising and consistently offering educational programs.

“I think we’re a really fortunate community in our ability to recognize that everybody has a right to read and respects the principles of intellectual freedom. We haven’t had any cases that would restrict somebody from accessing our services … The principles of open and equal access [are] applied fairly and freely and there’s no charge for your library card … so it’s up to the individual to take advantage of these services that can certainly in many ways improve your life.”

The library will have more fundraising in December. They will be a depositing site for the winter coat drive hosted by local churches. With State Farm, the library will host its annual Festival of Trees fundraiser, in which individuals and businesses decorate trees and community members vote on their favorite tree through monetary contributions. The funds raised go to the library to purchase materials. 

This December Drake Library will begin Food for Fines, in which patrons can pay down late fees with food donations.
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