It began in 2011 during the Thanksgiving holiday season and has taken place every year since it’s debut five years ago. It has been welcomed with open arms by library patrons and according to Janet Torsney, Bradley Beach Library Director, the “Food for Fines” program at the library is not only “a good way for patrons to clean any library fines but also a good way for people to do a good deed” by donating to the Bradley Food Pantry as well.
“We started it the first Thanksgiving I was here in 2011. We have done it every year since then and this year we started doing it year-round because the food pantry was so low on food,” she said.
According to Torsney, a basket for the food items is kept at the front desk. Patrons give their library card at the circulation desk where it is noted what their fines are and forgive $1 of fines for each item that is donated.
“We are really happy to do it because we want people to have access to everything the library offers. This allows them to clear their fines so they can take out books and other materials and use our computers. I think everyone has lost or forgotten a library book; I know I have. The point of fines is to get the material back, not to punish the patron. So a program like this creates a way to clear accounts that does not involve money, which is an important option for many, when they are helping people in need,” she said.
When the food bank supply is low, the library has also done other drives such as a “Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive” to fill their shelves.
“We have supported their Bag Drive by being a drop-off point for cloth bags. Our patrons and supporters are so generous! They rise to the occasion whenever we ask and we are so thankful!” she added.
Many donate food even if they don’t have fines, she said, because they want to support the pantry.