MANALAPAN – The Monmouth County Library Commission donated 11,494 cans of food and other non-perishable items to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties as the result of their Food for Fines program held throughout the 13 branches of the county-wide systemin conjunction with Monmouth County’s annual food drive.

     “I am so happy our library users could make this happen in such a grand amount, “ said Library Commission Chairperson Renee B. Swartz. “While it would be so much more advantageous for the library to actually be able to collect fines for delinquent items, at least in this instance, we are able to help an organization that aids people within the county.”

   The program, a Monmouth County Library tradition for eight of the past nine years, was held several weeks in April and enabled library patrons to bring one can of food or other non-perishable item such as necessary home products for every dollar in delinquent fines on books and all other materials, included DVDs and CDs. In addition to enabling library users to eliminate any fines they’ve incurred, the program also successfully got these items back on the shelves so they can be used by others. Many users responded to the unique method of compensation, Acting Director Judi Tolchin said, while at the same time helping the Food Bank which is always in need of support.

   When Tolchin made the announcement of the Food for Fines program result at last week’s meeting of the Library Commission, Freeholder Lillian Burry, liaison to the Commission, praised the Commission for its efforts and ingenuity, as well as its generosity in including the Food Bank in its program.

   “We have the best library system in the state and I truly believe in the entire country,” Burry said, “and this is just one example of how staff members think out of the box and come up with creative solutions. Just looking at the monthly library calendar, which this month alone features such diverse programs as the Civil War in Song at headquarters in Manalapan and a Spanish and Argentine flute and guitar concert at the Colts Neck Branch shows that we have come a long way from when a library was just the place to go to read a book. Our 13 branches and 14 member libraries offer unique ways to learn, enjoy, recreate, relax and even see great movies, all at no cost. Monmouth County should be very proud of this wonderful system.”