Palmerton Area Library patrons with overdue books, DVDs and other items have a new way to pay for fines this month.

In honor of National Library Month, the library will accept a donation of nonperishable food items in place of fines for overdue items during the entire month of April. For each food item donated, the library will forgive $1 from the borrower's fine. The food will be donated to CACPAC (Christian Action Council of Palmerton Area Churches) at the end of the month to help needy families in the Palmerton area.

"Every year during National Library Month, we try to come up with a clever way to get patrons to return overdue books," said Mariann Kmetz, assistant director of the Palmerton Area Library. "For every canned good that they bring in, we will waive $1 off their fine. Their fine will be waived and they are also helping out the community."

Accepted items during the Food for Fines event include cereal, rice, canned goods such as soup or vegetables, and any nonperishable food item normally accepted by a food pantry.

The program was organized by the library's Teen Advisory Group, which encourages local teenagers to become more involved in the library. Members actively plan events throughout the year to help the Palmerton community. The teens made signs to promote Food for Fines, and will also collect and deliver the food at the end of April.

"The Teen Group has worked on this project for the past month, making signs and organizing the event," said Kmetz. "They had a great time getting their signs together and working on this project."

While library users are encouraged to use Food for Fines to return their overdue library items, the library will also accept donations from members who do not owe fines but want to donate to CACPAC.

"Even if you don't have an overdue item, you can bring in any nonperishable food item to donate," added Kmetz.

National Library Month is observed each year in April at libraries across the nation, including public and school libraries. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of local libraries and encourage their use and support.