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Vt. library settles fines by food donations

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. — A Vermont library is going to let patrons settle overdue book fines with food donations to the local food shelf.

The Rockingham Free Public Library in Bellows Falls was planning to start the program Thursday. It runs through the end of January.

The ‘‘modified fines amnesty’’ program will accept nonperishable food items in lieu of fines for overdue books.

The food item will be turned over to Our Place Drop-in Center, a community service organization in the Bellows Falls area.

‘‘They are the perfect group to receive these donations, they have a great distribution center, and they understand what the community needs,’’ Youth Services Librarian Sam Maskell told The Eagle Times of Claremont, N.H. “We’re really happy to be able to support them.”

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Library late fees are 10 cents per day, capped at $3.

Donations cannot be used to settle costs to replace lost items, pay for damaged materials, or interlibrary loans.

Maskell said the food-for-fines program is new to Rockingham, but it has been done at other libraries.

Lisa Pitcher of Our Place said Maskell contacted her a few weeks ago to ask if the organization wanted to work with the library on the amnesty program.

‘‘I said I thought it was a great idea, especially during the holiday time,’’ Pitcher told The Brattleboro Reformer.