Carnegie Public Library waiving late book fees for food donations

Zoë Donovan, Staff Reporter

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Zoë Donovan
A library associate checks out books for a patron at the front lobby service desk of the Charleston Carnegie Public Library Monday afternoon. During the month of June, members from the Charleston community can donate food at the service desk to waive late book fees. The library can only waive a maximum of $10 in book fees per library card. Each item donated waives $1 in book fees.

Members of the Charleston community who have late book fines for the Carnegie Public Library can waive their fees by donating food, which will go to the Charleston Food Pantry, in the month of June.

The library is accepting a wide variety of food and toiletry items, including juice, cereal, pasta, toothbrushes and canned goods. A full list of acceptable items can be found on the library’s website. Food items must be unopened and unexpired.

People can donate as much food as they want, but the library will only waive a maximum of $10 in fees per library card. Each item donated waives $1 in book fees.

This is the second time the library has done a Food for Fines drive.

Adult services manager Katie Livingston said the concept to start a Food for Fines drive began when a Charleston High School group affiliated with the Rotary Club approached the library with the idea.

The previous Food for Fines drive lasted for two weeks last year and took place during the winter months, she said.

Livingston said she contacted the Charleston Food Pantry to find out when it needed food and other donations most. This was to coordinate a time when donations to the Charleston Food Pantry were slower to alleviate that loss.

“Typically you see a lot of donations in the wintertime, especially around the holidays. We were thinking, ‘when do we see a need in the community for people that need to have food?’” Livingston said.

Livingston said she found that June and July were times the Charleston Food Pantry needed donations, in part because children are not in school and may not be getting those meals supplemented at home.

The No Kid Hungry Campaign estimates that six out of seven children in the U.S. who face hunger cannot access food during the summer months without a school lunch program.

The campaign also found that 17.3 percent of children under the age of 18 living in Illinois struggle with food insecurity as a whole.

When it comes to Charleston, Livingston said she was pleasantly surprised to see how receptive the community was to the Carnegie Public Library’s food drive.

“It’s been actually really nice because not everybody has fines, but they’ll go ahead and just bring in food anyway because they know that we’re doing a food drive,” Livingston said.

The summer reading program also helps to bring more people in and out of the library during the summer months, which leads to more people bringing in donations, Livingston said.

The Carnegie Public Library is located at 712 Sixth St. The Charleston Food Pantry also accepts direct monetary donations at P.O. Box 411, Charleston, Illinois 61920.

Zoë Donovan can be reached at 581–2812 or at [email protected].