A fundraising effort was launched today in Springfield, Massachusetts to support a planned new state-of-the-art public branch library building.
The Springfield Library Foundation has pledged to raise $2 million for the new branch library in East Forest Park – a project that neighborhood activists and library supporters have clamored for since the 1950s.
Pat Markey, the president of the foundation, announced the goal for the “Promise Realized” capital campaign at a press conference Tuesday in the rotunda of the Springfield Central Library.
" It is a tall orde and it is a new undertaking for the library foundation, but we would not take it on if we did not think we could do it," Markey said in an interview.
Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners awarded the city $4.9 million to help build the new library. The Springfield City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the city’s share of the estimated $9.5 million project.
The money raised by the foundation will pay for furnishings and equipment.
" Those are key components to a library," said Markey.
Markey said the foundation has a roughly $10 million endowment from bequests and donations that is used to fund library operations and special projects. This will mark the first time the foundation has conducted a public fundraising campaign.
Former Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan, the treasurer of the library foundation, said a wide net will be cast for group and individual donations.
" It is a chance for all of us who love this city and who love libraries to come together at a time when our nation needs that," said Ryan.
The new library, at almost 17,000 square feet, will be four times the size of the current neighborhood branch library that operates in a leased storefront in a shopping plaza. It is the second-most utilized library branch in the city.
City Library Director Molly Fogarty said the new branch library will have more than 50 public computer terminals, separate spaces for adult, teen, and children’s programming, and a community room.
" It is truly state-of-the-art," said Fogarty. "We are looking at the best of what is out there in terms of library design and what our community needs."
A new library for the East Forest Park neighborhood is part of the city’s master plan to recover from the June 2011 tornado. It will be built next to the Mary Dryden elementary school, which was repaired after sustaining heavy damage in the storm.