By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Westborough/Shrewsbury – The Westborough and Shrewsbury public libraries have started a friendly competition. From now until March 15, both libraries are granting late-fine forgiveness in exchange for donations of new children’s pajamas (sizes 4/5T to 18/20). The winning library will receive milk and homemade cookies from the losing library’s staff.
The drive is part of the Boston Bruins’ ninth annual PJ Drive. Last year, this statewide initiative collected 6,000 pajamas, which were donated to Cradle to Crayons, an organization that supplies essential items to children who are homeless and from low-income families. The goal this year is to collect 6,750 pajamas.
The Westborough Public Library is also collecting perishable food items, which will be donated to the Westborough Food Pantry.
“We started ‘Can Your Fines’ three years ago, when we realized … that February was usually a slow month for them for donations,” explained Westborough Library Director Maureen Ambrosino. “We’d been wanting to do a fine-amnesty project, so we decided to tie them together.”
She said that collecting PJs was added this year.
“[We] decided to add a fun twist, and challenged the other boroughs’ libraries and Shrewsbury to a friendly competition, and Shrewsbury took us up on the challenge.”
Shrewsbury Library Director Ellen Dolan said that staff members Melissa Wentworth and Heidi Hayes-Pandey are running the PJ drive, but they will not be collecting food.
“[We have] a history of running fine amnesties a few times each year – usually we direct optional donations to some local nonprofit,” Dolan said. “We’ve collected for the WWI Veterans Monument project [and] St. Ann’s Human Services program…”
She added that during construction of the main library building, “a semi-permanent fine amnesty” is in place to compensate for travel to the temporary location at 214 Lake St.
“Libraries are models of collaboration. We think regionally all the time,” said Dolan. “We share millions of items each year for our patrons, both in our library network C/W MARS and across the state. We cooperatively plan and run summer reading programs; we do group training and consulting facilitated through our Mass. Regional Library System.”
Ambrosino was thrilled that Shrewsbury accepted the PJ challenge. The two libraries had previously collaborated on Krosslink.org, a volunteer-run program that connects local businesspeople with aspiring entrepreneurs.
When asked who will be baking cookies for Westborough, Ambrosino said, “The Shrewsbury staff, of course, because we’re going to win! All kidding aside, if we lose, I will be baking, and a few of my staff members have offered to bake as well.”
Dolan responded, “We know that [Westborough Public Library] has some great bakers. We can’t wait to try their cookies!”