New hope for library delinquents like me

I have this … problem. I don’t always (OK, hardly ever) remember to return my library books on time, even though I have always finished reading them. This is one of those weird brain-freeze things, where the books will be sitting in a tote bag right next to the front door, and I will walk right past it on my way out. I can’t explain it, though the same thing used to happen with rented movies back when I still rented movies. And those babies cost serious money to return late.

For years I chalked up the inevitable library fines to “charitable donation.” I figured it was just my way of supporting the public library, which heaven knows can use all the help it can get. Now that I am a struggling student without a lot of (OK, any) extra cash, it’s no longer quite so cute. As a result, I was blocked from using my local library for most of the early part of this year, thanks to a whopping $11 in library fines I had racked up over the months (once you get to $2 in fines, you can’t check out any more books). Again, I’m not proud of this particular mental deficiency, but it is what it is.

About a month ago, I found out that the West Branch Public Library has a great policy: you can pay your library fines with donations to the local food pantry. In this case, 1 item = $1 fine. Now this is more like it — I have any number of perfectly serviceable food items hanging around that I could part with more easily than cash. So I rounded up 6 cans of potato-cheddar soup (I had bought a case at one of those bulk-buy stores), 2 boxes of lasagna noodles, 1 box of Rice-a-Roni, 1 can of baked beans, and 1 boxed lemon-poppy quick bread mix, and bought my way out of library jail.

Then I strolled over to the shelves, picked out 6 books from my “To Read” list, and went home …