By Jessica Lovell
The Guelph Public Library will not only be looking to the community to help fund its new main branch, but will also be sending requests for support nationwide.
A national and a provincial fundraising campaign will be part of the library’s drive to raise $10 million to outfit a new downtown branch, chief librarian and CEO Kitty Pope told a small gathering of supporters at the library for the official launch of the fundraising campaign Monday.
“We’re trying to make it easy for folks to support the new library,” said Pope.
But the golf tournament, which is expected to raise $5,000 to $10,000 in its first year, is only a small part of the campaign.
“Over the next five to seven years, we anticipate rolling out five massive fundraising events,” said Pope.
The first two will be national and provincial fundraising campaigns that will target people outside the community who have connections to Guelph and will run over two tax periods, seeking donations when people are looking for the tax breaks that
come from charitable contributions, said Pope.
In the campaign, which will specifically fund furniture and equipment for the library, people will have the chance to sponsor pieces of furniture, much as they would a theatre seat in a community theatre, she said.
“People are quite happy to donate $1,000 to put a name on the back of a chair” in a loved one’s memory, she said.
The other three fundraising asks will be local, targeting corporate sponsors, organizations and families or individuals.
“We want to make sure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to contribute to this great project,” said Pope.
She couldn’t shed much more light on what the new branch would look like when it is finally realized, but said, “we know that it will be reflective of Guelph’s past and Guelph’s future.”
The hope is to have a 90,000-sq.-ft. building that is certified to a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, she said.
It will also have four spaces that could potentially be a revenue stream for the library, with partnerships that could see a coffee shop, or similarly appropriate business connected to the library, said Pope.
The overall cost of the new library is expected to be $64 million, a figure that might seem daunting, but Pope was confident there were ways to make it happen.
An agreement in which a construction company builds the space to the library’s specifications and then rents it back to the library is one the library has used before with its branch in the south end. It would likely follow that same model for this branch, said Pope.
“Is it doable? Absolutely,” she said.
Another group that feels strongly about the need to support a new branch also had representatives on hand at the campaign launch to make a pitch for support.
Friends of the Guelph Public Library chair Virginia Gillham spoke about why the group formed at the turn of the 21st century when it appeared that support for a new library branch was fading. The purpose of a friends of the library group is to support and advocate for the library, she said.
“We’ve been a little more focused than most,” she said. “We need a new main library building and we’re going to do it, come hell or high water.”
So far the local volunteer group has managed to raise $100,000, but as Gillham pointed out, that is only one per cent of the $10-million goal, so the community still has a long way to go.
The group has raised most of this money though its giant used book sale, which takes place annually in October. But with the launch of the campaign, people should expect to see the group at more fundraising events, including the new golf tournament, she said.
The launch event corresponded with the launch of ticket sales for the Library Links GPL Golf Classic – a golf tournament that organizers hope will become
an annual event in support of the campaign.
There is already strong support for the Sept. 14 event, said Pope, noting that 35 golfers have already signed up and half of the holes already have sponsors.