Steamboat Springs When parents take their children to the library and find out little Johnny or Susie has racked up $15 in overdue fines on their library card, it can be a stressful experience for everyone involved.
In December, the youth services librarian at Bud Werner Memorial Library, Currie Meyer, wants to make that situation a little better for everyone involved. Throughout this month, anyone younger than 18 can donate nonperishable food items to the library to pay their fines. The donations will be passed on to the Lift-Up Food Bank.
Meyer came up with the idea while reading an article in a professional journal about a similar program at another library.
"I thought it was a great idea, so I started it at our library," she said.
Meyer said the Food for Fines program is a good opportunity to hit two birds with one stone.
"It's a nice way to give back to the community and relieve the stress of overdue fines," she said.
Probably half of the children who have library cards have fines for overdue material, Meyer estimated. Those people can trade one can of food for a dollar off a fine.
"I want to be flexible with it," Meyer said. "If someone brings in a huge jar of peanut butter, that's worth a lot more than a little can of peas."
Canned food, dry food, baby formula or any other food item that will not go bad is welcomed to pay for children's library fines.
The food drive started on Dec. 1, and Meyer said so far, so good about the amount of food collected.
"I've already gotten two boxes full," she said. "It's an experiment and I'm pretty happy with it so far."
The drive goes on until Dec. 31. After that, children will have to come up with cold, hard cash to pay for their fines.