Library collects ‘food for fines’

Starting today, food will be the preferred currency to pay off overdue library fines.
In honor of the Easter holiday, the St. John’s library will be holding a “Food for Fines” drive, a campaign held on the Queens and Staten Island campuses where students can return late library books and submit non-perishable goods as payment for the overdue books and have their fines waved. The program began Fall 2006 and, according to Marilyn Narson, supervisor for the library’s circulation department, has gained quite a following.

“The students look forward to the drive,” she said. “It is a good opportunity to clear up your library fines and do some good.”

Narson said 3,600 items were donated during the first drive and roughly 1,200 to 1,300 additional items were contributed during the two drives held since then. This year’s drive will continue until May 17.

Students are encouraged to donate cereal, rice, pasta, canned vegetables, fruit and other non-perishable goods. Items that are dented or expired will not be accepted and each food item that is donated waives one library fine.

The goods collected from the Queens campus will be donated to Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Jamaica and Long Island City’s Church of Saint Raphael. Contributions to the library on the Staten Island campus will go to Project Hospitality, a not-for-profit Staten Island-based organization that provides services the hungry and homeless.

Narson said events such as these are especially important during the current economic crisis.

“Food pantry supplies are very low,” she said. “We are fortunate that we all have jobs but there are still families who are not as fortunate and need our help.”

Junior Joseph Johnson said he thought the drive was a great idea.

“When you are spending all of your time studying you forget about the problems facing others,” he said. “The library is creating a good example for students.”

Freshman John Hersh said that although he has no library fines, he is looking forward to the drive.

“I spend a lot of time in [the library] and its nice to know that they are creating solutions to the world’s problems,” he said. “I hope that it gets a good turnout.”