The Verona Public Library was one of the last of the 2,509 libraries built with funds left by the 19th century steel baron Andrew Carnegie. Now, the Library is looking to find some 21st century Carnegies to keep it going strong.
On November 20, the Library launched the Verona Public Library Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that will be able to raise larger donations from a wider variety of sources than The Friends of the Verona Public Library, which will continue to operate. (The Friends’ big annual fundraiser, the used book sale, is December 1 to 4.)
“The launch of the Verona Public Library Foundation offers the opportunity to raise money to support the Library’s programs and services,” said Kate Kelly, president of the Verona Public Library’s Board of Trustees, in a prepared statement. “Thank you to the Foundation’s trustees for spearheading this initiative that was prioritized in the Library’s most recent strategic plan.”
The plan, which Library Director Claudine Pascale presented to the Town Council in July 2021, was developed after a multi-year renovation that added more than 4,376 square feet of space to the building. Developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan outlined a heightened demand for digital and print resources and programming that would be frequently updated. “One of the things that came up over and over again in the community feedback is that people want popular titles now,” Pascale said in 2021. “They didn’t want to have to wait months for it.”
While frequently updated digital content would meet readers’ needs, it could prove costly to a library, because book publishers generally charge more for a digital book than a physical book and limit how many people can read a digital book at once. Some publishers also don’t release their most popular new books to libraries in digital format, which could leave libraries having to buy multiple print copies to meet demand. So it might not be surprising that the last item on the strategic plan was “enhance current and create new revenue streams.”
In the past, the Library has funded its programing and book buying with state aid and the Friends’ membership dues and used book sale. The Foundation will be able to seek one-time, recurring and annual gifts, as well as corporate matching gifts, estate planning and planned giving, gifts in honor or memoriam, and gifts of stocks or individual retirement accounts.
The Verona Public Library Foundation is fundraising across four major areas: Expanding technology and resources, supporting learning and cultural enrichment, establishing an endowment, and funding special events and projects. The Foundation has established a donor circle named in honor of the Library’s founder, Anna M. DeGolier, and said it is exploring room naming options as well. Monies raised by the Foundation will not go towards the day-to-day operating budget, which is set by the main board of trustees and funded through municipal taxes.
The Foundation’s trustees are separate from the leadership of the Friends and the Library’s board of trustees, though two have experience as Library trustees: Chris Barrows, the Foundation’s president, and Monica Vincent. Barrows, who spearheaded the creation of the Library’s board game collection, and Vincent have also been involved with another key fundraising group, the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE), as has Foundation Secretary Sarina Rivera. Each of the Foundation’s five trustees will serve a two-year term.
For more information on the Foundation, to make a donation see the Foundation’s website. Donations are tax-deductible.