Food for fines

Youth Librarian Ali Jobe of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library sits beside the canned goods and other nonperishable food items that library patrons have donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank in lieu of late fees during the library’s food for fines collection drive on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Soldotna, Alaska. In addition to the two and a half bins of food at the library entrance, the Food Bank has already recieved 193 pounds of food since the library began collecting on April 9. Soldotna librarians will take food for fines — at an exchange rate of $1 per item — until April 14. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion).

Since the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library started accepting canned and other nonperishable food items in lieu of late fees on April 9, they’ve sent 193 pounds of food to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.


As of Wednesday afternoon, two and a half bins of additional food were waiting in the library entrance. Though “Food for Fines” — an event the Soldotna library has been holding in honor of National Library Week since 2013 — will continue until Saturday, Assistant Librarian Katja Wolfe said the donations so far already top the 136 pounds of foods library patrons donated last year.

“People really like it a lot,” Wolfe said. “It gets people excited about paying off their fines and doing something for the community as well.”

This week the Soldotna library will forgive $1 of late fees for every food item a user brings in, though Wolfe said some library users have preferred to pay their fines while still bringing in food to donate.

Varying payment options for its late fees might be a prelude to another awareness event the library is observing this month. Money Smart Week, first organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, will come to the Soldotna Library from April 19 to April 28 for a series of classes on financial literacy. These include an April 24 will and estate planning workshop, an April 24 coupon discussion group, and an April 19 class on banking, debt management, and other finance skills from AmeriCorps volunteer Karma Nelson. Even the library’s monthly escape room game on April 24 will be finance-themed: players will solve puzzles to escape an imaginary locked bank vault and solve a robbery.

“We’re going to display some materials related to financial literacy while we’re doing it,” Wolfe said. “They can have fun, and also pick up some materials.”

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