At Some Libraries, Patrons Can Pay Fines with Food, Which Is Then Donated to the Poor

(Unrelated photo via wanderingone)

Food for Fines is a charity event at some libraries in the United States. At the South Burlington Community Library in South Burlington, Vermont, patrons with library fines can donate food items. For every item that they donate, they pay off $2 of accumulated library fines.

At the Park City Library in Park City, Utah, patrons have to pay a bit more: each food item is worth $1 in fines. The Warren Public Library in Warren, Pennsylvania is engaging in a similar program in order to help fill up a local food bank operated by the Salvation Army.

Would you like to see your own local public library do a Food for Fines program?

-via NPR Library


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The person who pays the fine isn't forced to give food to the poor. That person is out $2 either way; he or she simply chooses to have it go to the poor instead of to the library. But the taxpayer has to pay $2 more to support the library. Thus, in effect, there's a forced transfer of $2 from the taxpayer to the poor.
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I see a flaw in that logic. Does this mean that libraries are funded by fines? If so, then libraries are doing themselves a disservice by encouraging people to return material on time. In fact, it seems they must welcome that source of added revenue.
And forcing someone to give food to the poor? Shocking! Oh, they're NOT forcing people to do that? It's just a way to save $2.00.
No, I don't get VaneWimsey's point.
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The Brisbane City Council library has done something similar in December for the last 4 or 5 years. The fines are waived in return for canned food which is donated to Foodbank.
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