Van Buren District Library News

   All Van Buren District Library locations will be closed December 24 and 25, and December 31, and January 1, 2020, for Christmas and New Year’s. This includes VBDL headquarters in Decatur and branches in Mattawan, Lawrence, Gobles, Bangor, Bloomingdale, and Covert.
   For more information, phone (269) 423-4771 or e-mail A complete schedule of library events and activities can be found at

VBDL Webster Memorial, Decatur, is getting a jump on the new year by celebrating Noon Year’s Eve, Monday, Dec. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
   Children, age 10 and under, are invited to join the party, which includes games, crafts, pizza, music and more. Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult. Party hats are optional.
   For more information, phone (269) 423-4771 or e-mail

   All branches of the Van Buren District Library are joining libraries and schools across the country in the third annual Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge sponsored by iconic publishing imprint Penguin Random House (PRH).
   A record number of readers nationwide are expected to surpass last year’s goals of at least five million minutes and 75,000 books. Top performing libraries and schools will earn “Golden Penguin” and “Golden House” awards. PRH pledges to donate $50,000 in prizes, including author visits and new books, to be shared among the winners.
   VBDL readers can be winners, too. Readers in seventh grade through adult, who register for the Challenge, will track the number of minutes read between January 1 and 31. For every “badge” earned, the reader receives a small prize or an entry ticket for the Grand Prize drawing. The Grand Prize package includes a $25 gift card from Amazon, a $25 gift card from Barnes and Noble, a 10-ounce Yeti insulated tumbler, and a VBDL Swag Bag that includes a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones.
   Registration is open now at; however, readers need to wait until January 1 to log their minutes. Last year’s reading challenge enrolled 65,323 readers nationwide, who logged over 150,00 books and 13.5 million minutes of reading.
   For more information, contact the nearest VBDL branch, phone (269) 423-4771 or e-mail

The list grows longer every day. From the Sno-Isle Libraries in Washington’s Snohomish and Island counties to Queen Anne’s County Library in Maryland, the number of libraries eliminating overdue fines continues to increase.
   Since November 1, Van Buren District Library, which serves approximately 45,000 people in seven locations across Van Buren County, has joined the ranks of the fine-free.
   According to Library Director Dan Hutchins, “Library fines were originally intended to encourage people to bring items back so others might use them. However, the growing body of evidence suggests that assessing fines has the opposite effect and actually keeps people from using the Library.”
    The debate over going fine-free is not new, but the discussions have become more frequent and more public over the past 10 years. Articles in The Library Journal and American Libraries Magazine, and even on, have begged the question, “To fine or not to fine?”
   The definitive answer may have come from the American Library Association (ALA), which issued a resolution at its 2019 mid-winter meeting that states “that the ALA, on behalf of its members, adds a statement to the Policy Manual that establishes that ‘The American Library Association asserts that imposition of monetary library fines is discriminatory in publicly supported institutions providing library and information services.’”
   The resolution goes on to urge “libraries of all types to stop imposing fines on library patrons.”
   Fortunately for VBDL, overdue fines account for less than one percent of the District’s annual revenue. The elimination of such fees will not cause great stress on the annual budget. However, the District will continue to charge for items that are lost or damaged.
   For more information, contact the nearest VBDL branch, phone (269) 423-4771 or e-mail

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-5080

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