PITTSFIELD -- As part of its observance of National Library Week, the Berkshire Athenaeum will offer a modified fines amnesty starting this Monday through Saturday, April 19. During this time, the library will accept non-perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books.

Athenaeum Director Ron Latham brought the idea with him when he started in 1992, giving Food for Fines a present shelf life of 22 years.

The Athenaeum holds two collections a year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

When asked how much food they collected during the last Food for Fines drive last November, Latham said, "When we did it for the whole month of November, we generated in excess of 3,000 pounds of food."

For the upcoming drive, Latham hoped to collect 1,000 pounds of food.

Food will be collected in boxes located at the Adult Circulation Desk and at the Children's Service Desk. When "paying" off a fine with a donated food item, a staff librarian should be alerted prior to depositing the item into the collection boxes.

Food will be accepted not only for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation, but also may be applied to outstanding overdue fines from other transactions. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donating food.

During the amnesty period, in addition to food brought in lieu of fines, the Athenaeum will encourage general donations of food not associated with overdue library books.


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All donated food will be turned over to food pantries in Pittsfield.