SARASOTA, FL – Responding to growing community needs, the Library Foundation for Sarasota County (LFSC) is urging Sarasota County Commissioners to support additional funding for the public library system.
“We are asking the commissioners to increase the library’s budget to provide more funding for books and materials, and to fund a pilot project of opening two libraries on Sundays,” said Peter Pearson, Chair of the LFSC’s Community Advocacy Team (CAT) and member of the Library Foundation Board of Directors.
Pearson noted that access to library materials and buildings are the two most frequently stated needs of library users. “Working families can only access libraries on the weekends,” he added. “The County has invested wisely in beautiful new library buildings over the past two years. Now it’s time to invest in more access to the buildings and their resources.”
Since 2018, members of the Foundation’s Community Advocacy Team have been meeting with Sarasota County commissioners to explain the need for adequate and sustained public funds for libraries. The Library Foundation has raised nearly $5M in private donations for the library system since 2012. This year, the team is requesting $250,000 for library materials and $230,000 for Sunday afternoon hours and family programming at Selby and Jacaranda libraries.
“Our library system is heavily used and widely loved by its patrons,” said Sue Seiter, executive director, LFSC. “More than 80 percent of Sarasota County residents have library cards and the ten libraries together welcome more than 10,000 patrons every day.”
Members of the foundation’s CAT first meet individually with County Administration and each Commissioner to share the libraries unmet needs in the ensuing year’s budget and testify during the public portion of County budget discussions. In 2018, this strategy resulted in restoration of $200,000 to the Fy2019 budget for libraries and enabled the county to keep all libraries open on Mondays.
In June 2018, the foundation’s Board of Directors raised $212,000 in new private donations to provide a one-time gift of e-books, audiobooks and databases to the library system. These new funds provided over 8,500 new digital resources and increased the online collection by 40 percent. State funding for library collections is provided as a matching grant to local community investment.
The Library Foundation for Sarasota County was founded to secure the future of Sarasota libraries by raising private funds to complement, but never supplant, tax dollars. “Private donations should never take the place of strong public funding for the library,” added Pearson. “Our donors want to know that the county is supportive of our libraries. For that reason, the Foundation has a two-pronged strategy of conducting private fundraising and political advocacy activities.”
Members of the foundation’s Community Action Team include:
• Peter Pearson, Chair of CAT, and Member, Library Foundation Board of Directors
• Dan Bailey, Partner, Williams Parker
• Terry Brackett, Member, Library Foundation Board
• Mary Byrd, Sarasota County Library Advisory Board
• Claudia Cardillo, Member, Library Foundation Board
• Lee-En Chung, P.E., Owner, Ivy Ventures, Inc.
• Connie Davis, Ed.D., Treasurer, Library Foundation Board
• Tomas Dinverno, Principal, Venice Middle School
• Charlie Huisking, Founding Member, Library Foundation Board
• Michelle Kapreilian, Executive Director, Forty Carrots
• Deborah Kostroun, Friends of the William H. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library
• Pattie Lanier, Community Volunteer
• Kelley Lavin, Group Publisher, Sarasota and Venice Magazines
• Judy Liersch, Member, Library Foundation Board
• Lamar Matthews, Member, Library Foundation Board and Founder, Matthews Eastmoore
• Lydia McIntire, Community volunteer
• Alisa Mitchell, Community Foundation of Sarasota County
• Lynn Purple, Retired Small Business Owner
• Fletcher Rush, Member, Library Foundation Board and Associate, Williams Parker
• Mark Smith, Director of Marketing, Ringling Museum
• Bob Vedder, Retired Editor, Sun Newspapers
• Jean Wallace, Friends of North Sarasota Library
• Emily Walsh, Publisher, Observer Newspapers
• Marcia Williams, Friends of Shannon Staub Public Library
• Sue Seiter, (ex officio), Executive Director, Library Foundation