Library patrons offered amnesty during December
As part of Amnesty Month at libraries nationwide, the Russellville Library has offered to waive overdue fines during December in exchange for canned food items.
Library patrons can bring in a canned food item for each $1 owed in fines, although expired items will not be accepted.
"Some people pay the fine anyway, and they call it a donation," said Deborah Barnett, director of Russellville Library for the last 13 years. "But last year we collected 200 cans, and we donate those to a local charity."
The library bookstore, which is run by a support group called Friends of the Library, has marked down all new and used gift items this month. The bookstore has the same hours as the library – Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and most Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"The bookstore has two computers, which are available for word processing," Barnett said. "Many of the books in the store have been donated, and others are either too old or we already carry them here in the library.
"We have magazines for sale, and a lot of books and videos that are half-price for this month."
Two new flat-screen computers with high-speed Internet are also available for 30-minute intervals from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to the general public and from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to student usage only.
"We upgraded to brand-new Dell computers only two months ago," Barnett said.
The library has also received a $1400 Hug Grant from the Gates Foundation, which will pay for a computer reserved for military families that will be able to visit the library and communicate with a loved one who is deployed.
"Within the next few months, the Broadband Initiative for Military Families and the Gates Foundation will be providing us with an iMac computer to allow families to talk to their soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Barnett, who has a son serving in Iraq. "We will put the computer in a place in the library that will allow the families to talk in private."
Barnett said the library currently has 9,000 cardholders from Russellville and throughout Franklin County with 18,000 items in its inventory, which includes 16,000 books and a large selection of DVDs.
"We have books, movies, books on CDs, a large-print section, all kinds of kids' books, a good reference section and inspirational fictional, which is very popular," Barnett said. "We also have a DVD rental program that allows a cardholder to check out two movies for $1 per movie. After six months, if there are no late fees, then there is no charge to rent the movies."
The hardest items to find this month at the library are the four best-selling novels from the vampire-based "Twilight" series penned by Stephenie Meyer.
"We have had more direct requests for 'Twilight' books than for the Harry Potter books, and that was a phenomenon we had never seen before," Barnett said. "We have all four books with at least two copies, and we have a waiting list for all of them. Surprisingly, there are both children and adults on the waiting list. It's amazing, but the books have a vegetarian vampire – what's not to love?
"We have a lot of good readers that are kids, and that's encouraging that they're not just watching TV, and it's exciting to see kids are excited about reading."