The Berkeley Public Library Foundation supports library innovation and excellence. We work together to make a great library extraordinary.
Public libraries are community hubs for information, technology, cultural exploration, and community building. Art, music, film, and craft events are part of the many programs the public can enjoy. Science, math, and engineering experiences are part of a new wave of daily operations. People of all ages come to our library for skill building, job training, and entertainment. Teens especially are drawn to the library because it is a safe place to be themselves.
The Foundation helps the library meet the changing needs of our growing community. Our current priorities include:
- Establishing hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) literacy projects for all ages using the nationally acclaimed Cornerstones of Science model for public libraries.
- Making needed capital improvements to the downtown library with It’s Time for Central, including a dynamic new Teen Space, new flexible work/study areas, and other needed renovations to help the library better serve the community.
- Providing for refurbishments and upgrades to the Children’s Floor at the Central Library and the children’s rooms at all four branches.
- Enhancing Berkeley Builds Readers, a family literacy project, bringing library resources and programming to childcare centers in underserved areas of our community.
- Funding library innovations which give the Library and librarians the opportunity to afford new technology, materials, and the resources they need to try new ideas, to dream, and to stretch.
- Seeding the Generation Fund, a new board-designated legacy fund to ensure the long-term funding needs of a robust public library.
IT’S TIME FOR CENTRAL
In the 20 years since we began our first plan for the downtown library, much has changed. It’s Time for Central is about bringing innovative enhancements to the downtown Central Library. This includes 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, we are asking Berkeleyans to come together and make our great library extraordinary. We’ve done it before, we can do it again!
Click here to read an article about the importance of teen space at the public library.
In 2014 we partnered with the library on Branch Out!, an outreach campaign following on the heels of the branch library renovations. This 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 brings books, free internet, library staff, and other services to remote areas of the city. It often also stops at farmers markets, parks, and street festivals.
Special grants during this time provided training opportunities to tap library staff into new technology including social media. Now staff can better reach current and future library patrons where many live: online.
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 that are 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, some inspired by native Bay Area wildlife. Grown-up learners have comfy chairs, computers, and redesigned community rooms for classes and meetings. We outfitted new teen rooms with whiteboards for group projects and communal tables for homework. These new closed-door spaces give teens autonomy and offer other patrons a buffer from energetic young voices.
Four incredibly beautiful buildings reopened for business, welcoming record numbers of visitors and providing vibrant programming, connecting neighbors to each other and our world.
WE LOVE THE LIBRARY
Our very first campaign, We Love the Library, led the way in support of the restoration and earthquake retrofitting of Berkeley’s landmark Central Library. Between 1998 and 2002, our donors raised $4 million to outfit Central with furniture, technology, and other interior fittings. Today there are more than half a million visits to the downtown library including many of the 3,000 youth who attend Berkeley High, right next door.
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.