Library accepts donations to waive fines


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Joy Thornton, an access services assistant at the library, said the library staff wanted to make it easier on students at the end of the semester by allowing them to donate canned goods from their cupboards to waive their library fines.

By Campus Reporter

Students can get out of paying overdue library fines by donating to the library’s holiday food drive.

According to Columbia’s website, the library will waive up to $20 in overdue library fines for students who donate nonperishable food items, with $2.50 applied for every item donated.

All collected food items will be donated to the Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Services Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St.

Kristy Bowen, a library access services assistant, said the library partnered with Chicago Lights for the drive because they thought it would be nice to partner with a smaller, less often recognized organization.

“Everyone needs donations at this time of year, but small, overlooked places especially do,” Bowen said. “This was a perfect opportunity to help them out and also help our students out by allowing them to bring in food.”

Students can donate at the first floor circulation desk in the library until Dec. 12.

Jennifer Sauzer, head of Access Services and Assessment in the library, said she saw other colleges organizing similar events and wanted to bring the event to Columbia.

“It’s good for both the students and the charities involved,” Sauzer said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Joy Thornton, an access services assistant at the library, said the drive first began at the end of the Fall 2014 Semester.

“Some students accrue a lot of fines in overdue books,” Thornton said. “We wanted to make it easier for them.”

Jackie Lorens, director of the Elam Davies Social Service Center, said the organization is always working to expand awareness within the Chicago community.

“[We often do] collaborations with different corporations, but something we don’t always get to do is collaborate with universities and colleges,” Lorens said.

Bowen said students are encouraged to donate even if they do not have outstanding fines. If students have extra food from their cupboards at the end of the semester, she said the library is willing to accept such items. In other cases, the library is willing to work with individuals with large outstanding balances that could be more than the $20 limit.

“We have waived that [requirement] in a couple of cases,” Bowen said. “People were like, ‘I really need to clear my account and I have all these canned goods,’ so we will make exceptions.”

Bowen said more students tend to donate near the end of the semester.

“Especially as the semester ends, people are looking to clear up their accounts before they leave,” Bowen said.

Thornton said students gave jars of Nutella and cans of spam, items the organization told her are typically harder to receive at food drives.

“Getting something that is like a treat is really nice,” she  said. “I guess our students realized that, and they started bringing what they like to eat.”

Lorens said the organization serves about 75 households every month, and guests are allowed to visit the pantry once a month.

“Having extra food stocked in our pantry was a nice addition,” Lorens said. “It comes at the perfect time during the holidays, when a lot of households are tight on their expenses because they want to make sure their families are taken care of for the holidays.”