Santa Maria’s City Librarian has announced the formation of the Santa Maria Public Library Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 organization. “The primary function of the Foundation will be to secure financial and in-kind donations to develop an endowment. The endowment will support library programs, services, collections and capital projects benefiting libraries in all of the geographic areas served by the Santa Maria Public Library system,” said City Librarian Mary Housel.

The Library Foundation was discussed and supported by the Library Board of Trustees and Friends of the Library board members representing Santa Maria, Orcutt, Los Alamos, and Guadalupe as an additional avenue for library fundraising. Local library non-profit leaders gathered late last year to discuss the continuing financial needs of the main and branch libraries in the Santa Maria service area resulting from years of local budget cuts and the loss of State library funding in 2011-2012.

According to the California State Library’s Preliminary Public Library Data reported for 2012-13, the average expenditure per capita by public libraries in California was $31.76. In that same year, the County of Santa Barbara provided $5.98 per capita for library service in the county. For 2013-14, the County allocation increased to $6.90 per capita but dropped slightly to $6.87 per capita for the current fiscal year.

The public library and branches are valuable community resources that have something to offer everyone,” Housel said. In 2013-14, approximately 457,000 people visited the Santa Maria Public Library and Branch Libraries to check out 508,248 print, media and e-media items, access computers and the Internet, attend valuable and enriching programs for children, teens and adults, and to volunteer. Housel added, “With additional funding, our libraries would be able to enhance services, provide after school and Saturday homework help centers for children, and keep up with customer demands for the latest technology in the library.”

The Foundation’s formation is the keystone of the Year of the Library Proclamation made by both the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Maria City Council at their meetings in January 2015. The Year of the Library initiative is a year-long plan developed to bring new awareness to residents of Santa Maria and the County of Santa Barbara Library Zone 3 served by Santa Maria Public Library regardingthe important contribution libraries make in our diverse communities. Library staff and Friends of the Library are available to speak to local civic and government bodies aboutthe libraries’ community benefits.

The Foundation Board of Directors includes nine members led by President Jackie MacNeil, Vice President Laura Davidson, Secretary Suzanne Hajnik, and Treasurer Tahir Masood.

“Obviously it will take some time to build up the assets of the Foundation in order to make significant contributions to the library. This is a plan to provide long-term support for the library,” Housel pointed out.

The Foundation’s first fundraiser will be a “Launch Dinner” on Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Market Restaurant in Town Center East. Featured speakers will be local writers Wendelin Van Draanen and Mark Parsons. The couple recently completed a road tour across the nation promoting reading and their novels for children and teens. Tickets are available for purchase at the Santa Maria Public Library circulation desk or by contacting City Librarian Mary Housel at 925-0951 ext. 322. The cost is $45 per person of which $20 is a tax deductible donation to the Library Foundation.

Questions about the Foundation or the Year of the Library Proclamation may be directed to Mary Housel, City Librarian, 925-0951 ext. 322.