(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
The Sikeston Public Library's Fine Free Week, Dec. 1-13, is designed specifically for these individuals, allowing them to return their overdue books, no matter how late they are - without a penalty.
The maximum fine is typically the cost of the item which, for example, would mean $1 a day up to $40 for an overdue CD.
But, rather than doling out money to pay the fine for materials still checked out and overdue, the library merely asks patrons to help the needy by bringing in one non-perishable food item, a new blanket, a new toy, etc. Keep in mind, however, this does not forgive already existing monetary fines.
The donation will then be given to the Community Christmas Campaign and added to baskets delivered to families who are less fortunate in the Sikeston area.
"Last year we received back approximately 100-125 overdue items but probably two or three times that many nonperishable food items," said Library Director Sue Tangeman. "Some people use us as a drop-off point for their donations to the Christmas Campaign and don't have overdue library items. We are more than happy to have them do that."
When you think about it, it's not a bad deal. Some of the books have been missing from the library for awhile. In the past, one person had a book out for more than two years before returning it during Fine Free Week and the library staff won't soon forget the individual who participated in the project by bringing back a book after more than 20 years. Even so, that's part of the deal. Return the items and no questions will be asked.
It's an offer that benefits everyone, says Tangeman. "I have been with the library for 10 years and have always found this to be a win-win situation for everyone. The library gets back some overdue items that we might not otherwise recover, the patron does not have to pay the monetary fine on their overdue items and the Christmas Campaign is able to have its drive for toys and food featured prominently at a location that is visited by many different people, some of whom might not be aware of the campaign otherwise."
Tangeman noted since she's been at the library, the facility has probably recovered 1,000-1,500 or more items, some of which she said probably would not have been seen again. Fine Free Week also means the library does not have to go to the additional expense of replacing the items which enables the staff to purchase other books, CDs, audio books or videos.
"The library staff has also decided to participate in the Christmas Campaign on a personal note by purchasing toys for the needy instead of exchanging gifts with each other," Tangeman said. "This will be our second year to do this and we are already making our purchases. We hope that other businesses and organizations would consider doing the same."
For more information about Fine Free Week contact the Sikeston Public Library at 471-4140.