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Have you racked up some overdue fines at the Missouri River Regional Library? Perhaps you've exceeded the $5 threshold that prevents you from checking out more books, DVDs or digital material.

If you're like us, this is a fairly regular occurrence. We sometimes choose to use a specific family member's library card based on their low fines.

If this sounds anything like you, this would be a good week to visit the library. They'll be accepting alternate forms of payment from patrons with overdue books. And no, it doesn't involve cleaning the bathrooms or even reshelving books.

This week through Saturday, the library will accept "food for fines." One unopened, non-perishable food item equals $1 toward fines.

You can often find supermarket deals in which you can get two or three small cans of vegetables for $1. So if you're a bargain hunter, you can effectively cut your fine in half, or less, depending on the deal you find.

But if you can afford it, consider purchasing large cans of top-quality food. That's because the food always is donated to a local charity. This week, donations to the main branch will go to the Samaritan Center, which started as a food pantry in 1987 and has grown to be a multifaceted social service agency that regularly helps thousands of people in our community.

The library's Food for Fines program is a win-win program by helping people in our community and by eliminating patrons' fines.

We suspect the library, which is publicly funded, doesn't really want more of your money. They would rather have you keep reading, especially if you're avoiding the library because of your fines.

So this is also a good way to extend an olive branch to patrons whose fines are too large to check out more material.

They don't offer the program often, so take advantage of it while you can. And when you go, remember to bring a mask. Missouri is a high transmission COVID-19 area, so the library requests that you wear one inside the library regardless of your vaccination status.

News Tribune

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