Readers returning overdue books can have their fines waived by making a donation to Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s food drive in the lead-up to Christmas.

Until December 17, library branches are running a Food for Fines amnesty, allowing borrowers to return long-overdue books without financial penalty.

The organisation, which has four Whittlesea branches, hopes the amnesty will encourage people to reconnect with the library.

It follows YPRL’s decision in August to remove all fines from childrens and youth items in an effort to encourage children’s literacy.

Board chairman Sam Alessi said the non-perishable food donations would be given to Foodbank Victoria to distribute to families in need.

“Since August, the YPRL board has been endorsing initiatives to lift fines and encourage more people in our community to engage with our excellent libraries,” Cr Alessi said. “This campaign will benefit so many who struggle in our community.”

YPRL chief executive Jan Cowell said the organisation understood that overdue book fines were a financial hardship for many borrowers.

“We want to support those members and help them get back to borrowing again,” she said.