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Libraries Pass Up Much-Needed Funds to Help Others

November 9, 2009

RENO, Nev. - Public libraries in Nevada need every penny they can get, but in Washoe County, the libraries are voluntarily passing up thousands of dollars in overdue book fines in order to help hungry people. This week, the library system kicks off its annual "Food for Fines" program, allowing patrons to bring in nonperishable food items as payment for late fees.

Library marketing director Bonnie Saviers says the libraries also get back many books and other items that might not otherwise have been returned. Despite the library's own budget crunch, helping local food banks is still a top priority, she adds.

"Our revenue actually has been cut 36 percent over just the past year. It certainly has affected us. However, we really believe strongly in 'Food for Fines' and we want to continue doing it, so this year it will be for a shorter period of time."

"Food for Fines" used to run through the end of December, but in 2009 it will last only until Nov. 24. Saviers says they're hoping library patrons will be generous.

"The food banks especially need really good, solid kinds of food, like canned meats, fish, peanut butter, protein items, macaroni and cheese, baby food and powdered milk - just really good, wholesome food for our community."

For people who have overdue book fines to pay, Saviers says this year's chance to donate food is actually worth a little more, because the fines have gone up since last year.

"Food for Fines" begins today at all Washoe County library locations. The food collected will be given to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and, in the Lake Tahoe area, to Project Manna.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV