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Massena Public Library offers amnesty for overdue materials

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MASSENA - Massena Public Library patrons who have overdue materials can have their fines waived during Amnesty Week, which began Sept. 16 and runs until Thursday.

Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said Amnesty Week is normally held during National Library Week in April, but got pushed back this year because of internal changes taking place at the local library.

“We don’t want to neglect it. For some people it’s very important to have the option of getting their library card back in good standing,” she said.

Patrons are asked to bring in a canned or non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Massena Neighborhood Center, but expired food items will not be accepted.

“They can bring in some non-perishable goods, which we will donate to the Neighborhood Center,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

Patrons with overdue fines will have their fines forgiven if they return all library items that are overdue. Patrons who have already returned materials, but who still owe fines can also be forgiven if they request amnesty during the week.

Anyone who has overdue items must return them, but anyone who has lost an item will need to pay for it.

So far, so good, according to the library director.

“It’s been going quite well. Our patrons are very positive and very happy to hear that we haven’t neglected (Amnesty Week) completely. We have some food donated already. Any little bit we can do to help, we’re happy to do it,” she said.

As a non-profit, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said their collection is very important to them, and that’s why they ask patrons who may have neglected returning an item to bring it back for no charge during Amnesty Week.

“For us as a non-profit, we’d like our materials back. It’s still part of our collection, it’s still in our catalog and it’s very easy to put it back on the shelf and erase their fine,” she said.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer said she understands that people might run into different situations that keep them from returning an item on time.

“Maybe they’ve fallen on bad times or moved and they say, ‘I can’t afford the fine on this book, so I’m never going back there again,’” she said.

Amnesty Week takes the sting out the possible fine they’d face.

“We’re trying to make it as positive as possible. We really want to include the entire community to the best of our ability and this is one way to do it,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

“Some people stay away from the library because they know they do owe fines and don’t feel welcome here. They don’t want to be asked for money they don’t have, so they avoid the library,” she said. “Our hope is to bring in people who’ve been avoiding the library, that they will come back. We’re hoping they will come back and get their library card in good standing again. We want them to be active members.”

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