Bring back those overdue library materials and there will be no fines, no questions asked. It's doesn't even matter how long you've had them.
There's no catch, the library staff simply wants its belongings back. Currently there are an estimated 800 overdue library books, magazines, CDs, audios, etc., which could have been due anywhere from yesterday to three years ago.
Hundreds of lost books are returned each year during Fine Free Week and all library patrons are asked to do is bring in the overdue item with a non-perishable food item or toy which will be donated to the Community Christmas Campaign. This year the week is being recognized Nov. 26 through Dec. 9.
"I think that during Fine Free Week we get back things that we would not otherwise get back," said Sue Tangeman, library director. "People are going to bring back most of the things in that 800 that are overdue anyway and pay their fine, but what we try to do with Fine Free Week is reach those people who otherwise are not going to bring our materials back by offering this opportunity to bring them back without having to pay the fine. I think that they feel by doing this they are giving something to the community, that they're accomplishing two things at one time."
The most overdue item that made its way back to the library last year was two and a half years late, which is not too bad when you consider a few years ago when a book was returned that was considered overdue in 1974.
And It doesn't take long before library material fines add up, Tangeman pointed out, which makes being able to return an overdue item by donating a 50-cent can of food a great deal.
"The fines usually stop at the cost of the item, like if it's a CD it could be $40 and if it was due two years ago at $1 a day you're getting off easy. Bringing in a can of green beans for a $40 fine is pretty good," she quipped. "That's what we're trying to encourage.
An estimated 200-300 canned food items are gathered each year through the project and the need for children's toys this year is being especially stressed.
It's a project that's been going on for about 20 years and one patrons seem to appreciate. Still, there are those who are a bit hesitant, having to swallow their pride and come forth with the book they've had for so long.
Tangeman noted patrons have all kinds of excuses for not bringing the books back on time but she added the staff doesn't care what the reason is, they simply want the items returned.
Fine Free Weeks does not dismiss already existing monetary fines, but applies to items that are still checked out and overdue.
As in years past, individuals who prefer may place the books and food items in the outside book return but must include a note with their name to enable the library staff to know whose fine to forgive.
"We need these overdue books because especially if it's an item that is in demand, the cost for us to replace it is going to be the cost of the item, whether it be a $25 book or a $40 audio book," Tangeman said. "We will have to go and pay again for that same item to make sure the rest of our patrons have access to the material. We encourage people to use Fine Free Week as an opportunity to make their donation to the canned good drive. That's really why we pick this time of the year to do this, it's really the best of both worlds for everybody."