Caribou Public Library reduces fines if patrons donate food

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Public Library is accepting food donations for the entire month, with each donation reducing 10 cents from any late fees incurred before November. 

Caribou Public Library Director Hope Shafer said the event is being held in conjunction with “No Fine November,” in which the library is not charging fines on late returns.

“It’s our way of giving back to our patrons,” Shafer said. “They will not incur any fines for late items due this month.”

She said the library is accepting any non-perishable items, which includes canned goods, sugar, flour, and baking soda.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shafer said patrons can call the library prior to making a donation and an employee will meet them at their car. If they do plan to go into the building, they need to wear a mask, apply hand sanitizer at the door and stay for a maximum of 30 minutes. 

She said patrons can either call on their cell phones from the driveway, or let them know in advance that they’re heading out.

“We want to make this as easy as possible,” she said.

So far, donations are going well, and Shafer said the library has already forgiven plenty of late fees. 

“We usually see more in the middle of the month when people start to think of their own holiday shopping,” she said. “They might put some extra items in the cart for a donation.”

When the drive concludes at the end of the month, Shafer said items will be split between the Bread of Life Kitchen and the Caribou Ecumenical Food Pantry. 

She said this is made even easier as Caribou Zoning Administrator Ken Murchison, who works in the city office across the street and also serves as chairman of the Bread of Life Kitchen, will deliver the donated food.

“He’ll just come across the street, put it in his truck, and split it between the two entities,” Shafer said.

The library director said the facility has held the food drive for a couple of years, and that it’s a great way to give back to their patrons.

“It’s easy to do, and they love it,” she said. “You can just see the worry and angst melt away when they talk about having something overdue. It’s wonderful. We get lots of smiles, and [the donations] help a lot of others in the community.”

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