Who We Are

Who We Are

& Purpose

The Berkeley Public Library Foundation amplifies the public investment to make a great public library extraordinary. The Foundation raises the funds needed for innovations, literacy projects, and building improvements that are not covered by bond measures and taxes.

About The

Grants from the Foundation make new things possible. The Foundation outfits and refurbishes library buildings, resources dynamic new projects to advance STEM, the culinary arts, and reading. The Foundation secures literacy centered technology to keep the library creative, flexible, and ready to serve the public in an ever-changing digitized and interconnected world.


February 1990

Early 1990s

Library trustees declare buildings overcrowded, seismically unsafe, and inaccessible to the disabled.

February 1996


Rallied by a community-wide campaign, voters approve a $30-million bond to expand and renovate downtown’s Central Library.

February 1997


Berkeley Public Library Foundation is established to raise funds needed for furnishings and technology not covered by the bond measure.

February 1998


Central library closes for renovation. Foundation commits funding for Berkeley READS adult literacy project. We Love the Library campaign, with honorary chairs Alice Walker, Amy Tan, and Elizabeth Farnsworth, raises $4 million.

February 2002


Central Library grand re-opening; at 100,000 sq. ft. its space has doubled.

February 2003


Foundation hosts the first Authors Dinner gala which becomes a beloved annual tradition.

February 2021


Foundation inaugurates the Cody Award, in honor of booksellers Pat and Fred Cody. Given to individuals and organizations that help shape, broaden, and illuminate Berkeley’s literary and library landscape.


Berkeley voters pass Measure FF, approving a $26-million bond to renovate, expand, and improve the four neighborhood branch libraries.


The Foundation’s Neighborhood Libraries Campaign raises $3 million for furniture, fixtures, and technology for the four renewed branch libraries.


North Branch and Claremont Branch hold grand re-openings.


New South Branch and new West Branch hold grand re-openings. West is the first Net Zero Energy public library in California.


Foundation funds the Library on Wheels, which becomes a fixture at Berkeley community events.


With needs identified in its strategic plan, the Library holds public meetings to help map out critical improvements at the Central Library. Architects Noll & Tam, experts in library design, hired to lead the project.


Foundation launches It’s Time for Central to raise $616,000 toward a new teen space, technology, and improvements at Central. Fundraiser Tall Tales and Local Ales held at Central Library, featuring local storytellers and tasty brews. Foundation donors provide funding to pilot Berkeley Builds Readers, a now thriving early-childhood literacy program.


With support from Stephen M. Silberstein, the Foundation and Library partner with Cornerstones of Science, launching the first science literacy program of its kind at a West Coast library. Foundation creates The Generation Fund, aimed at increasing financial readiness for future significant projects. Library champion Linda Schacht Gage receives the Cody Award for her leadership and unwavering advocacy for the Berkeley Public Library.


Foundation commits $58,000 for technology enhancements, staff training, and librarian-identified innovations. Berkeley celebrates naming of Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch, honoring the civil rights and community activist. With $75,000 in Foundation support, Library installs a laptop lending kiosk and inaugurates “The Commons,” a flexible open space at Central.


Following the 17th Annual Authors Dinner in February, construction began on the new teen space and other renovations at Central. Library partners with The Charlie Cart Program, using the Berkeley-originated curriculum and mobile kitchen to teach food and nutritional literacy while also advancing math and STEM learning.


The Foundation invested in the Library’s first collection of circulating digital devices, Launchpads/Playaways, which contain secure, preloaded, ad-free educational apps with STEM and literacy themes. Facing new challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation supports the Library in re-opening for curbside pickup and providing community access to Brainfuse online tutoring for k-12. Foundation produces Reading is Instrumental, an online celebrity musical story time in partnership with Berkeley Symphony.


Grants support expansion of Tool Library to include culinary equipment. Funding for annual Library Lego Challenge to distribute classic LEGO sets to shelters and organizations serving children living in poverty. Hotspot and Chromebook Lending Pilot Project provides laptops for long term lending.

Are you ready to invest in the community?

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Margaret Gutowski, President
Robin Claire Barnes
Karen Bird
Joanne Carder
Melinda Carmack
Joan Collignon
Fredrica Drotos
Hadley Dynak
Carolyn Federman
Tienne Lee
Mary O’Neill
Jennifer Sime
Christine Staples
Leslie Teicholz
Jessica Williams


Kathy Huff


Rachel Anderson
Joy Carlin
Michael Chabon
Judy Fujimoto
Linda Schacht Gage
Trish Hawthorne
Mollie Katzen
Karen Holtermann
Maxine Hong Kingston
Tom & Carol Leonard
Malcolm Margolin
Janet Shohara McCutcheon
Rita Moreno
Michael Pollan
Matt Ross
Bryant Terry
Ayelet Waldman
Gordon Wozniak

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