Since 1997, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation has raised millions of dollars to support innovation and excellence for the programs, facilities, and services of the Berkeley Public Library.
We Love the Library
Our very first campaign We Love the Library led the way for the restoration and earthquake retrofitting of Berkeley’s landmark Central Library. Today more than half a million people use the downtown library including many of the 3,000 youth who attend Berkeley High, right next door.
Neighborhood Libraries Campaign
In 2013 we celebrated the successful completion of our Neighborhood Libraries Campaign. Our donors and volunteers raised over $3 million to bring the four branches of our neighborhood libraries fully into the twenty-first century. Campaign gifts paid for new workstations, laptops and seamlessly integrated high tech features at the four branches. Donors paid for bookshelves, state of the art book sorting machines, equipment and furnishings unique to the character and setting of each library. The Tool Lending Library received new chairs, computers, and floor mats. The areas for early childhood learning are now filled with imaginative furniture such as those inspired by native Bay Area wildlife. Grown-up learners have comfy chairs, computers and redesigned community rooms for classes and meetings. The campaign outfitted new teen rooms with whiteboards for group projects and communal tables for homework. These new closed-door spaces give teens autonomy and other patrons a buffer from energetic young voices. In all, four incredibly beautiful buildings have been opened for business, welcoming record numbers of visitors and providing vibrant programming connecting neighbors to each other and our world.
In 2014 the Foundation partnered with the library on Branch Out!, an original month-long outreach campaign that brought thousands of Berkeleyans in to (re)discover their public library and doubled attendance at library programs. The Foundation also funded the creation of a Library on Wheels. This impressive bicycle book-mobile now bring books, free internet, library staff and services to remote areas of the city along with stops at farmers markets, parks, and street festivals. Special grants made possible special training opportunities to assist library staff in tapping into new technology including social media to better reach future library patrons where many live: online.
What’s Happening Now?
Public libraries have become community hubs for information, technology, cultural exploration, and community building. Art, music, film, and craft events are part of the many programs offered. Authors come to meet and speak with readers. Science, math, and engineering programs are becoming part of a new wave of daily operations. Teens and young adults are especially being drawn to the library for skill building, job training and a safe place to be themselves. The Foundation is helping the library with all these changes by funding exciting new projects like Cornerstones of Science, a model science literacy program engaging all ages in STEM. Berkeley Builds Readers give preschoolers an early start bringing books and library staff and volunteers to underserved areas. A new Laptop Lounge will soon provide easy access to laptops, add more comfortable seating, and transform an underused area of the downtown library.
It’s Time for Central
Now that the renewal of Berkeley’s four branch libraries is complete, the Foundation is focusing once again on the flagship Central Library. In the nearly 20 years since the planning for the last renovation of the downtown library, much has changed. It’s Time for Central is about bringing innovative enhancements to the first and second floors of the downtown library — a dynamic new space for teens, improved lighting, and technology, other flexible spaces for expanded community activities, a more welcoming entryway, clear way-finding, and display areas for public art. Once again Berkeleyans are being asked to come together and see what we can do to make a great library extraordinary. We’ve done it before, we can do it again!
Join us! Every donation gives our libraries the power to try new ideas and to bring everyone in our community into the library and into the future together.