Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com
Grand Junction Free Press
Staff Writer

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February 14, 2013
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NONPROFIT PROGRESS REPORT: Foundation founded as fundraising arm for county library system

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - For continued support of the local library system's growth and development, the Mesa County Public Library Foundation was created in 1994. Now, the small nonprofit funds many projects, including the Central Library revamp effort going on right now.

"The beauty of how the library foundation works with the library district is that the overhead is dedicated from district funds," Mesa County Public Library Foundation Development Director Lois Becker said. "All contributions, for the most part, go over to the libraries in full capacity. Donors know their gifts go straight to a project, and there are no admin fees."

"It means something to give to the library," Becker added.

Plus, that also means Mesa County Public Library Foundation accomplishes a lot on a very limited budget. Outside of Becker's salary, it's no more than $3,000. As the only paid staffer connected to the foundation, Becker also noted that the development director's salary is managed by the library district (it's not part of the Foundation's operations budget) and she also wears many hats outside of fundraising.

Mesa County Public Library Foundation additionally has an active, 13-member board, Becker said. And, without their numerous volunteer hours, programming through the foundation would be impossible to carry out.

"The library is just one of those things that a community needs," foundation board member and fundraising chair Kevin Bray said. "It's not unlike having good transportation and good health care. It's a pillar the community stands on."

Programs funded through the foundation include: The new Central Library Project Capital Campaign, the yearly summer reading program, the literacy program, plus events like "One Book, One Mesa County, in which books are chosen by the Mesa County Libraries system for the public to read and then participate in educational programming.

"We have developed a relationship with many donors, and the spirit of giving continues to grow," Becker wrote in an email. "The library's efforts to address new branches, added programs and services, etc., all make a difference in seeking funding."

Becker additionally said that "stewardship of partnerships and other related organizations help us to build awareness about the library's offerings."

For example, in March 2012 the foundation began a $1.25 capital campaign to support the Central Library remodel.

"We've raised over $1 million so far," Becker said. "We have $195,000 to go."

According to Bray, it's extremely important to raise the full amount needed to complete the remodel and expansion effort at Grand Junction's Central Library.

"I think we can do it," he said, "but we really need the help of the community."

Both Becker and Bray hope to have Central Library's construction completed this spring in time to kick off the ever-popular summer reading program.

"It's a pretty amazing project," Bray said. "With the expansion and remodel, it will be a building the community will be proud of."

Lots of upgrades are actually happening behind the new library walls, Bray added, including new technologies and wireless capabilities for building users.

"It becomes a really flexible space," he said, "and a nice community space, as well, for meetings and public gatherings. There will be more opportunities to invite the community in for different functions."

Like most nonprofits existing in a tight economy, Mesa County Public Library Foundation has seen its share of setbacks as well.

"Recent challenges include how to remain engaged in building our case of support knowing that current and loyal donors are dealing with the uncertain economy and their own sense of financial well-being," Becker said. "The Library Foundation is fortunate in that our current effort is underway and those who have helped in the past, and new donors, see themselves as making an incredible difference."

For more information about donating to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation, call Becker at 970-683-2438 or visit www.mesacountylibraries.org.


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