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Foundation established to back library budget

The Baltimore Sun

The Anne Arundel County Public Library system is establishing a foundation that would raise money to build special collections, enhance old programs and add new ones.

Funds raised by the foundation would supplement the annual $17 million budget that allows the library system to provide basic services.

"Current library funding doesn't provide us the means to make our libraries exceptional," said Marion Francis, library administrator for the county public library for the past five years. "We want to raise money to better serve our community."

Started in 1921, the library system comprises 15 branches throughout the county. Circulation is 5.5 million items a year, and about 250,000 people have library cards, Francis said.

Money raised by the foundation will go to fund several projects including:

High-tech enhancements, such as new computer equipment and systems upgrades.

Facility renovations and upgrades.

Teen and children's centers with new furniture and age-appropriate decor.

Special incentives for the summer reading program, outreach programs in schools and senior centers.

Installation of exterior electrical signs,

Speaker and author programs.

The foundation, called the Anne Arundel County Public Library Foundation Inc., will be overseen by Lois Miller, who will begin her job as the library system's chief of development on Feb. 3.

With more than 20 years of fundraising experience, Miller has served as vice president of development for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore, and the director of development for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and the House of Ruth.

"I am very excited about the prospect of promoting a means for philanthropic-minded citizens to support the mission of the Anne Arundel County Public Library," Miller said in a release.

To determine goals for raising money, Brakeley Briscoe Inc., a fundraising and marketing firm, was hired to do a community assessment to determine if the foundation could be successful.

After interviews with about 32 community leaders, the firm reported that the demand for private funding is high because of nonprofits in situations akin to the library system, Francis said.

"We have a lot of competition," Francis said. "But we have the reputation of the library, and the fact that our programs are designed for people of all ages, in our favor."

Library officials are in the process of putting together a foundation board of directors that will be made up of corporate leaders, library board members and supporters who have the means of donating, Francis said.

"We want to make sure that we have the right people on the foundation board, and that we have the structure of the foundation established before we start fundraising," Francis said.

Although fundraisers won't begin until the fall, library officials say they hope to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 during the first year, and as much as $1 million or more within a few years, she said.

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