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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK
Beans means fines at library
Southampton Anti-Poverty charity offices
The Southampton charity fed 7,000 people on low incomes last year
Forgetful borrowers are getting the chance to pay off library fines on overdue books with tins of baked beans.

Southampton City Council will then donate the tins to a charity that helps feed low-income families.

Readers are asked to bring a tin of beans or other food for every pound they owe during the month-long amnesty in October.

Librarians hope the novel scheme will welcome back people who feel too awkward to come in because their fines have grown so big.

'Books back'

Officials in Southampton got the idea from the United States and say the town is the first in Britain to try it out.

Siobhan McGarrigle of Southampton City Libraries said: "Principally we want to get our books back, but also to encourage people to come back and start using the libraries again.

"The trouble is when people start owing fines and it mounts up they get very embarrassed about coming in."

The Southampton-based Anti-Poverty charity fed 7,000 people last year, a maximum of three times a year at monthly intervals, which managers say is to avoid creating a dependency on the service.



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