Berkshire Athenaeum's Food for Fines Campaign Returns

It’s back. The Berkshire Athenaeum will offer a modified fines amnesty from Tuesday, Nov. 1, through Wednesday, Nov.30.   During this four-week period the library will accept non-perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books. 

The ‘Food for Fines’ initiative has become an annual tradition at the athenaeum, which for over 20 years has linked the extended fines amnesty period to the Thanksgiving holiday, said Library Director Alex Reczkowski. “Thanksgiving encourages Americans to reflect on all we have to be thankful for; donating food in lieu of fines is a feel good solution that’s a perfect fit for this holiday.”

Additionally, it offers a practical and customer friendly trade-off, says Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation.

“Borrowing library items is free but if they aren’t returned by the due date we assess a fee or overdue charge,” said Congelosi. “Sometimes patrons forget to or can’t pay off of this charge. This program is a way for the library to create a more positive way to help patrons to take care of this obligation.”

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. Please note 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 presented to the Rotary Club of Pittsfield as part of the organization’s annual food collection drive

For more information, please contact Congelosi at 413-499-9480.