The Banks Public Library. Photo: Chas Hundley

BANKS - The Banks Public Library is continuing to put a spin on its annual Fines for Food program, which runs Monday, May 6 to Saturday, May 11.

Every year, libraries across Oregon allow patrons to forego paying fines for overdue materials -- the Banks program does not allow patrons to cover the cost of lost or damaged library property for which individuals are responsible -- by instead bringing in canned food items.

In 2015, the Banks Public Library joined other libraries from the western portion of Washington County to begin donating one week’s worth of its fines intake rather than collecting and donating canned goods to the Oregon Food Bank.  

“We have learned from other libraries and from the Banks Food Pantry that the physical collection of canned goods is not always the most effective way to help,” Banks Public Library Director Denise Holmes said. “Because the food pantry has (the) purchasing power that allows them to acquire more goods with cash than average shoppers, the most effective way for us to help is to donate cash. The food pantry counts on cash donations to help them through the times when donations of food cannot accommodate the need.”

In previous years, the Banks Public Library’s donated money collected during the Fines for Food week, and those modest donations typically ranged from $100 to $150. Fines intake rarely exceeds $250, Holmes said.

Last year’s payment from the Banks Public Library totaled just $21, which prompted the library to consider holding the event on dates other than the annual “Library Week.”

“Last year, we publicly advertised our intent to donate fine proceeds to the Banks Food Pantry,” Holmes said. “Many patrons did make an effort to clear up their accounts during that particular week. Some who did not have outstanding fines simply made a donation … We still hesitate to put a cap on the donation amount allowed per patron as we feel it would be less likely to inspire altruism. Again, we would anticipate that the total amount of fine receipts is not likely to exceed $250, as it only has done so once during Fines for Food week since we instituted the program.”

The Banks City Council on April 9 adopted Resolution 2019-04, which states that the total of all fines collected at the Banks Public Library May 6 through May 11 will be donated to the Banks Food Pantry.

For more information about the program, or to learn more about making a donation, call the library at 503-324-1382.