Library offers amnesty program for paperback scofflaws, hardcover hoodlums |

Library offers amnesty program for paperback scofflaws, hardcover hoodlums

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Carson City Library staff members Gerry Pearson, left, and Elaine Werlinger sort through some of the food donated to the library in exchange for overdue book fines. The Food for Fines drive continues until Nov. 24.

It’s getting to be that time of year when families come together in the grand tradition of Thanksgiving and gorge themselves on turkey and football. It’s a time for giving thanks and for forgiving.

In that same spirit of grace, the Carson City Public Library has initiated a month-long amnesty program for late books in exchange for cans of non-perishable food. But it only lasts until Nov. 24, so all those paperback scofflaws and hardcover hoodlums better get out there and return those overdue books.

Trust Andrea Moore, community relations coordinator, and Elaine Werlinger, audio-visual librarian/technician: It’ll go a lot easier on you if you cooperate!

So how is the food drive going?

Well, this is the first year we’ve done it so we have nothing to really measure it by. But we think it’s going well. We have four barrels of food. We’ve done Toys for Tots, Wild Horse Spirit, the Angel Tree, the Mitten Tree and this year we’re doing The Giving Tree, sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club.

Named after the Shel Silverstein book?

Right. For The Giving Tree, needy children will get a chance to write down an item they really want for the holidays and people can come by the tree, pick one out and hopefully make that wish come true.

Where is all the canned food going?

It’s going to the Ron Woods Family Resource Center. It’s a local food bank but also a community resource. The neat thing about doing these drives in this building (the library) is that it’s such a center of the community. Thousands of people come in and out of here every day. We have a lot of people donating money or canned goods who don’t have library fines, too. They just see the signs and want to do something positive.

So all I need to do is bring in a can of corn and my fines are completely wiped out?

Yeah, as long as we get the materials back so other people can use them, we’re happy. The only thing you can’t get off your record are damaged books or broken tapes. Also, we do ask that you make sure the food is fit for human consumption. We’ve gotten cans of dog food that slipped by. We can also use travel-sized toiletries and pre-packed box food. Also, no cheese, please.

So somebody brought in dog food?

And somebody else brought in these little plastic baggies full of coffee.

Just how much are these fines?

They’re 15 cents a day per book and $1 a day for a video, with a maximum fine of $5 per book. For children, the maximum fine is $1.

So there haven’t been any 40-year-old copies of Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” coming in where the person owes literally thousands of dollars?


Do you think people just forget they have overdue books and outstanding fines or there’s something in the dark nature of the human heart that likes to abuse their library privileges?

It could be a matter of forgetting, but there are also a lot of people who think they probably owe the equivalent of a mortgage on the book. It’s just not so. This is their chance to bring the materials back and wipe the slate clean.

So there’s not a library cop in back there? This isn’t some sort of sting operation, is it?

Not at all (laughing). Is that net showing again?

How long do people have to get those overdue books in?

Until Nov. 24.

Reported by Nevada Appeal staff writer Peter Thompson.