The Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre donated 1,176 non-perishable food items to the food bank run jointly by UTMSU and Community on Campus. The donation was the result of the library’s “Food for Fines” drive.
During the week of October 1, students were asked to donate food items to the library, and get their library fines waived in return. For every item of food a student brought in, the library waived $2 of their fines, up to a maximum of $20 per student.
The HMALC was one of 10 U of T libraries, including Robarts and the U of T Scarborough Library, that took part in the initiative.
“[Such initiatives] have been popular in public libraries for quite some time. The University of Toronto library system had been talking about that for some time,” said Christopher Sparks, the director of library operations, in an interview. “We decided, ‘Let’s try it this year.’ It’s been a surprisingly easy project.”
Fines owed to Scarborough campus library and some St. George libraries were also eligible for waivers. Even students who had no fines donated food, and some students brought more food than they needed to clear their fines.
“A student brought in a box of food for a $5 fine. And he’s not alone,” said Sparks. “They’re bringing in more food than the value of the fine.”
Because of the success of the campaign, the HMALC plans to hold the Food for Fines drive again every year.