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Book fines? Give food instead

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

People with overdue library books at the Park City Library can pay off their fines — and help the hungry at the same time — through the end of the month.

Through Nov. 30, the library is offering its ‘Food for Fines’ program, which encourages people to clear their overdue records at the library by bringing in non-perishable food.

"Some people think it’s a fun idea. It’s a different way of doing it," says Brian Hartmann, who works at the library’s circulation desk and is assisting in organizing the program.

Under the Food for Fines, if someone brings in food, up to $1 of overdue fines will be forgiven. Overdue fines are 10 cents per day, and Hartmann says people who give food instead of paying fines typically have a few dollars in fines.

In 2006, he says, the library collected 10 boxes of food during the program. Two-thirds of the food in 2006 was pasta, sugar and other dry goods. The rest was canned food.

The program is popular, he says, and some Parkites wait until the food drive to have their fines forgiven. Hartmann recalls a woman having just 25 cents or so in fines but waiting for the Food for Fines to give instead of paying the nominal fine.

"She thought it was neat. I don’t know why," Hartmann says.

Food cannot be donated to pay off lost books or damaged books. Donations, though, can be used to forgive an entire overdue fine.

"It’s the time of year when a little good will goes a long way," he says. "It’s different than a fine amnesty."

The library plans to donate the food to two local food banks, including one run by the Christian Center of Park City. Tim Dahlin, the Christian Center’s director, says the library’s program is sensible and helpful.

Dahlin says the Christian Center’s food bank serves about 120 people each day, mostly from Park City and surrounding Summit County.

"Food is more expensive than fines," Dahlin says. "It’s a good investment in the community."

However, he says the amount of food the Christian Center receives from the Food for Fines program is "insignificant" compared to the food bank’s overall collection. The library’s program raises awareness for the food bank, though, he says.

"It’s saying we don’t need your fines as much as people need your food," Dahlin says. "That’s a bigger principle."

The library is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday hours are from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Library staffers are collecting the food at the circulation desk.

For more information, call Hartmann at 615-5609 or the library’s general number at 615-5600.

The Christian Center’s number is 649-2260. It is located at 1100 Iron Horse Drive. Its hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is closed Thanksgiving and the day after the holiday.

Needed foods

The Park City Library says the ten most-needed items are:

Macaroni and cheese

Pasta and noodles

Canned tuna

Canned vegetables like peas, whole corn and black beans

Canned fruit

Dry pinto beans

Rice

Cooking oil

Flour

Sugar and salt


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