The new, dazzling two-story is scheduled to have its grand opening early next year. But first, the public will be asked to lend a hand.
With no money for furniture, fixtures and equipment in the library's construction budget, the Friends of Los Gatos Public Library agreed to raise money to cover those costs. More than half of the estimated $2.1 million needed has already been raised, according to the Friends' president, Carol Hamilton.
"We've been working on this for two years, but this [month] is the beginning of the public 'Once in a Generation' campaign," Hamilton says. "I was the first person that donated, and I asked each of the board members to donate, which they did. It just went out from there."
The public fundraising campaign will kick off officially on March 20, with an event on the lawn of the current library. Los Gatos community leader Jonathan Knowles and former Mayor Sandy Decker are co-chairs of the campaign, which hired Netzel Grigsby Associates Inc. to train fundraising volunteers.
"The new, state-of-the-art library in Los Gatos will take community involvement to a new level," Decker says. "The library will serve every faction in our town, from toddlers to teens to seniors. This incredible facility will not only offer the wonder of the written word, but the real definition of free community access."
Already, fundraising events are being planned. On Sunday, the Los Gatos Community Foundation will have a Wine & Jazz event at The Mountain Winery, with the proceeds to go to the library. On March 23, the Friends will have a fundraiser at Bentley Los Gatos that will include food, wine and a silent auction.
Further information on the events will be at the Friends' website later this month.
As the link between the campaign and the Friends, Hamilton says she attends about three campaign-related meetings each week.
"We can't have a new structure and not the furnishings to complete it well," says Cheryl McKenzie, a local author and the publicity chairwoman for the Friends Friday Forums. "Carol asked me to participate in the Community Gifts Committee, so I said I'd like to help with the effort to raise the funds for the furniture, fixtures and equipment. I'm really glad that I did join in this effort, because the people involved are fabulous. They have great energy, super ideas and the talents to do the job."
Katherine Cance, the Friends' development director, points out that major donors can choose to make donations to specific areas of the library—called "special gift opportunities"—for which the donor will receive recognition on an inscribed plaque at the area and on a prominent donor wall. Several opportunities have been reserved, but those still available range from Children's Garden stone benches ($10,000) to the staircase glass wall ($250,000) and the second floor Grand Reading Room ($500,000). Donations from $500 and up will receive recognition elsewhere in the library.
As the Friends have done for decades, Hamilton and other volunteers continue to raise much-needed funds for the existing library through the ongoing sales of donated gently used books. Although they don't accept encyclopedias, they take all books in good condition, even children's books, textbooks, paperbacks and newer magazines. The book sales will continue in the new library.
"We probably bring in about $1,000 a month in book sales," Hamilton says. "That doesn't include our special book sales three times a year, which might bring in $1,000-$1,500 at each sale."
In addition, the annual dues from Friends' approximately 900 members help the library buy items such as chairs and magnifying readers, or they go toward summer programs.
"Every penny goes to buying whatever is needed," Hamilton says.
The Friends' website will be updated by the middle of March at friendsoflglibrary.org. It will include campaign event information and permit the general public to make online donations.