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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Christmas spirit: Fines forgiven in exchange for donations to needy

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

(Photo)
Ann Thompson, children's librarian for the Sikeston Public Library, and Sue Tangeman, library director, place toys around a tree
(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON --Every year at this time for the past 20 years or so, the Sikeston Public Library staff get into the spirit of the season by offering Fine Free Week.

From now through Dec. 15, for every overdue library item returned in usable condition, patrons can bring in a new toy or nonperishable food item, and the fine will be forgiven.

According to Sue Tangeman, library director, this is a great opportunity for patrons with overdue materials to take advantage of Fine Free Week and help out those less fortunate than themselves at the same time.

"It is a win-win situation for everyone. Some of our regular library users take this opportunity to drop off items to contribute to the community," Tangeman said.

The amount of donations during Fine Free Week varies from one year to the next, Tangeman said. However, she estimated between 75 an 100 items are collected each year.

A lot of people who respond have something barely overdue and just forgot to bring it back, Tangeman said.

"If you have five things overdue for two years, and you bring in five cans of corn, it puts you in good graces with the library," Tangemen said.

Fines stop at the item's cost, which is variable, Tangeman said.

Tangeman said people in the community know to look for the event each year. The library staff also also sends out letters to people who have items overdue, some as long as a year.

"It also seems like once people see the sign (about Fine Free Week), that will call attention to others," Tangeman said.

The items and overdue materials should be brought into the library so the right patron can be credited, Tangeman said. The toys and food items collected will be used locally.

Even if they don't have overdue books, some people also use the library as a drop-off point to make donations, Tangeman said.

"It's a unique way for everyone to benefit," Tangeman said. "The library gets the items back. The patrons are cleared of their fines, and it helps families in the community."

Patrons should contact the library at (573) 471-4140 if they have any questions about the status of any overdue library materials.