TAVARES — There have been plenty of jokes over the years, about people who forget to return library books, and end up owing hundreds of dollars in late fees.
But now Lake County is offering a twist on that old line: if you owe the library any back fees, they will be forgiven for those who help out with a good cause.
The Lake County Library System just announced that it will forgive library fines for overdue materials for anyone who donates food during the library’s canned food drive, which is being held from May 1-13 as part of the county’s Food for Fines initiative.
The program was launched to help local food banks, while also offering library patrons the chance to get some library fines waived.
There are 15 libraries in the Lake County system, and donations will be accepted in each one.
The Library System noted that every unopened, unexpired food item with a printed expiration date will be the equivalent of $1 forgiven for library overdue fines. If library patrons don’t owe past fines, but still want to make a canned food donation, they can donate food items to help pay fines for children in need.
Fines will not be forgiven for items that are lost, damaged or have been sent to a collection agency.
The Lake County Library System tried this program last year, and received more than 2,300 food items for local community food pantries, including South Lake Community Ministries, the Leesburg Food Bank, Lake Cares and Faith Neighborhood Center.
The Library System is encouraging more participation this year, including to help children in need.
“Clearing fines from children’s library cards will allow them to fully participate in the summer reading program, and potentially prevent a seasonal slump in students’ reading habits,” the Lake County Library System noted in a news release. “Reading throughout the summer ideally helps students return to school in the fall with a reading level at, or slightly above, where they finished the previous spring.
To learn more about this food drive or other programs sponsored by the Lake County Library System, visit Lake County Library System.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..