UBC Reports | Vol.
50 | No. 1 | Jan.
Overdue Book Fines Feed the Foodbank
Food for Fines program a hit
By Michelle Cook
The UBC Library collected more than 4,900 items for the Greater
Vancouver Food Bank in November -- and waived just over $9,800
in fines -- by asking library users to pay off their debts
from overdue books with food instead of cash.
Called Food for Fines, the initiative was the brainchild
of AMS president Oana Chirila, who got the idea at a meeting
of her counterparts from other Canadian universities. Queen's
University and all the universities in Nova Scotia currently
run similar programs in their libraries. Chirila approached
university librarian Catherine Quinlan about the possibility
of launching something similar at UBC.
Run from Nov. 24 to 28 to coincide with the Food Bank's
annual drive, all borrowers with library fines could participate.
For every non-perishable food item donated, they got $2 waived
from their existing fines, up to a maximum of $20. All library
cardholders were eligible, whether they were students, staff,
alumni, faculty, or community members.
"People were really enthusiastic," says assistant
university librarian Tim Atkinson, who co-ordinated the drive
at UBC Library's 15 branches. "Many brought in
10 items to qualify for the $20 fine waiver and then donated
more items over and above that."
By the end of the five-day drive, the Food Bank had 150 boxes
of non-perishable items to pick up from campus.
"The response was amazing. We even got a donation mailed
in from a student on Salt Spring Island," Atkinson says.
"The students loved it. The staff loved it. Several
staff members have approached me to say they really hope we'll
do it again next year."
Chirila credits much of the success of Food for Fines to
timing. "It was the end of the year and students thought
it was a good way to pay off their library fines and help
the community at the same time."
She adds that the food drive helped to improve students'
attitudes about the Library.
"They saw it as a goodwill gesture and they appreciated