As part of its celebration of National Library Week, the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield's public library, will offer a modified fines amnesty from Monday, April 13, through Saturday, April 18. During this time the library will accept non-perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books.
“While overdue fines are supposed to encourage people to bring their library books back on time,” explained Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation at the Athenaeum, “Sometimes the system doesn’t work, and things don’t get returned.” The food-for-fines program, now in its twenty-first year, is the library’s attempt to create a more positive feeling about getting overdue library materials returned, and to get library borrowers to clean out their bookshelves and bring back library items that have been long forgotten.
Food will be collected in boxes located at the Adult Circulation Desk and at the Children's Service Desk. When "paying" off a fine with a donated food item, a staff librarian should be alerted prior to depositing the item into the collection boxes. Food will be accepted not only for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation, but also may be applied to outstanding overdue fines from other transactions. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donated food.
During the amnesty period, in addition to food brought in lieu of fines, the Athenaeum will encourage general donations of food not associated with overdue library books. All donated food will be turned over to food pantries in Pittsfield.
National Library Week is an annual celebration of all types of libraries begun in 1958 and this year runs from April 12 through April 18.