by Lisa Tome
While many people flock to the North East Branch Library for the books, free programs, and wireless internet, some turn out for the coupons.
The branch is the only county library which has its own informal coupon exchange.
"The public really maintains it. People bring them in (coupons). It's similar to the magazine exchange," said Jamie McCloskey, North East Library Branch Manager. "It is very popular. People use the box regularly but it's not something the staff really maintains."
Barbara Jannaman has worked at the branch since before the library had the coupon box. She said it started when staffers pulled coupons out of a Sunday newspaper and placed them on a table for anyone who wanted them.
"It started when things (the economy) were rough. We had a basket with them and then the patrons would organize them," said Jannaman. "It's a community service. It was a need that showed up out of the blue."
Jannaman said the coupon box has led to other good deeds. "One woman saved so much money with the coupons that she gave a pie to one of the coupon sorters. It has sparked good will," said Jannaman.
She said that people are trying to save money however they can. "I even look through them now," she said.
The patrons brought in a nicer box for the coupons. The library staff then found a permanent home for the coupon box, off the table where it had sat for years. That started a minor panic for patrons who were used to it being on the table when they arrived at the library.
"We moved it from the table and made it part of the magazine swap. We just moved the box (and people asked about it). It has developed a life of its own," said Library Associate Diane Gay.