Salt Lake libraries waive fines for food

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20 2014 5:50 p.m. MST

Library employees sort through canned and nonperishable foods at the Food For Fines payment station at the Salt Lake Main Library on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. The Salt Lake City Public Library and the Utah Food Bank have paired up to feed Utahs hungry while reducing library fines.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Libraries in Salt Lake City are giving back to the community while letting patrons eliminate their library fines.

The Salt Lake City Public Library System and the Utah Food Bank have teamed up for the annual Food for Fines program. In the program, $1 will be subtracted from patron's overdue library fines for each non-perishable food item donated.

Those with library fees can donate as much food as they want with no limit to the amount of money subtracted from their fees.

"This is the way we can give back to the people who support us," said John Spears, executive director of the Salt Lake City Public Library system.

All six city library locations are participating in the Food for Fines program from Feb. 15 to 28 with barrels set up for food at each of the locations.

He said many branches called during the first few days of the program because the barrels had been filled said Andrew Shaw, spokesman for the library system. By the fourth day of the program, the main library had already filled five of seven barrels.

Shaw said the library hopes to double the nearly 6,500 pounds of donated food items that they received in 2012.

The city library system recently changed its checkout rules. As of Jan. 21, most items — books, audio books and CDs — will have a loan period of three weeks instead of four. DVDs, magazines and other specially-marked items can be checked out for seven days.

"This is a chance for people to clear up their records," Spears said. "It's a way for us to recognize the adjustments that people are making as we change to our new loan period. It's an easy way for people to give back to the community while also helping clear their record at the library."

The program was also initiated at a time when the food bank was in need of donations, Spears said.

"We wanted to try to time it so that we could really make a difference in the lives of the people in the valley," he said. "We are supported by the public and we're here for the public and it's rare that we can do something other than our normal services to give back to the community."

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

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