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Published: Monday, 1/19/2009

Donation to needy can wipe out fines

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When two local Girl Scout troops sought permission to place a collection box for clothing donations in the Swanton Library, library leaders went a step further.

Not only has the collection box to benefit homeless people been placed in the library, but next week, any library cardholder who donates an unopened package of new socks or undergarments can also return overdue library materials without paying the overdue fine.

We want to give people an opportunity to help out the less fortunate and, at the same time, reinstate their ability to use their library cards, library Director Linda Slaninka said.

At any given time, Ms. Slaninka said, there are about 200 items overdue from the library, signed out by, on average, 100 people.

Such cases often involve people who simply forget to return library materials or misplace them, and then when they rediscover them, may be leery of the public shame of paying a fine at the library counter or simply don t get around to returning the items, the library director said.

But until they return overdue items they signed out, library patrons may not sign out additional materials with their library cards. Ms. Slaninka said she hopes the fine amnesty will motivate at least some cardholders to return overdue library property.

We just felt that with the current economic climate, people need the use of their library more than ever, the director said. It s a fine opportunity for those people to clean up their obligations and reinstate their library cards.

Donations may also be exchanged for a waiver of the library s $5 fee for replacement library cards.

The Hannah s Socks campaign in which Girl Scouts Brownie Troop 281 and Junior Troop 910 are participating specifically requests donations of socks and undergarments. It was inspired by a Toledo girl s observation several years ago, while helping her mother volunteer at the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo, of a man whose shoes were so tattered that she could see his otherwise bare feet inside them.

The clothing donation box will remain in the library through February, Ms. Slaninka said, but the library-fine amnesty will be in effect only next week, Sunday through Saturday.

Donors who return overdue materials are not exempt, however, from any charges related to replacement of lost material, collection-agency referrals, or fees the library assesses when it mails out overdue notices to cardholders.

Library fines start out at 10 cents for an initial overdue item and can run into the hundreds of dollars including the additional fees if unpaid, Ms. Slaninka said.

But even if a particular patron can t afford to pay the unwaived charges right away, the library director said, the library would welcome the return of late books and other items. The library s list of long-term lost materials numbers more than 1,000 items, she said.



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