BOLINGBROOK – The world's first libraries date back more than 4,500 years to the temples of Southern Mesopotamia, where the ancient Sumerian patrons borrowed and returned stone tablets, always abiding by the honor system.
Four-and-a-half millennial later, Bolingbrook's Fountaindale Public Library is giving those who may not honor its return policies a chance to make it right.
An extension of their National Library Week celebration, the library's Amnesty Period allows patrons to return materials less than 90 days overdue free of fine.
If the rented item is more than three months late, Fountaindale is offering a "Food For Fines" program in which Bolingbrook residents can return the long-overdue books, movies and equipment alongside a non-perishable food item.
For each unexpired canned, boxed, bagged or bottled non-perishable food item that a person brings in, the library will remove $2 from his or her overdue fine.
Library staff will remove up to $20 from incurred late fees.
The Food for Fines program does not cover lost, stolen or damaged items, and Studio 300 materials are also exempt from the program. Both Food for Fines and the Amnesty Period will run until Saturday.
In 2012, the library collected more than 1,500 items in two weeks; and, in only four days so far this year, Fountaindale staff counted more than 400 items, according to Fountaindale Public Library Circulation Manager Theresa Hildebrand.
She says it is also a chance to bring people back to the library and inform them about upcoming events and activities.
"We want to give people a chance to clear up their fines and bring them back to Fountaindale," Hildebrand said, noting that when an individual has a long-overdue fine, he or she typically avoids the library.
"Food for Fines is great way of reminding people that this is also a part of National library week," Hildebrand said. "We want patrons to know what is new at the library – Studio 300 and all the events and activities. Additionally, it gives us an opportunity to give back to community, because we would not be here without the Bolingbrook residents."
After Food for Fines ends Saturday, Fountaindale Library Staff will load all the food into the Bookmobile and donate the items to the DuPage Township Food Pantry.