Frequently Asked Questions about the Library Foundation for Sarasota County
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THE FOUNDATION?
Our mission is to ensure the future of our libraries as an indispensable community resource, by raising public awareness of their importance, by promoting library-related issues and by raising private support to supplement public tax funding.
WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATION’S PRIMARY GOALS?
The Foundation will help sustain the county library system for the long-term future, meet system needs that county government does not address, and increase awareness of library services. We will also enhance the libraries’ print and electronic collections, support a variety of adult, children’s and teen programming, apply for grants to benefit the library system and engage in advocacy efforts.
WON’T YOU DUPLICATE THE EFFORTS OF EXISTING FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY ORGANIZATIONS?
No, the Friends organizations raise funds for individual libraries. The foundation will address big-picture, system-wide needs.
IS THE FOUNDATION AFFILIATED WITH SARASOTA COUNTY?
No, the foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization. However, the foundation works closely with the Sarasota County Library System and has established strong bonds with the Library Advisory Board and with the various Friends organizations.
WHO SERVES ON THE BOARD?
The foundation’s board comprises residents of north and south county who have vast experience in community affairs and philanthropic causes. For a complete list of board members, click here.
DO LIBRARIES HAVE A FUTURE IN THE DIGITAL AGE?
Absolutely. Nearly 75 percent of Sarasota County residents have library cards, and over 10,000 people visit the libraries in the county system every day, while 30,000 more access the variety of virtual services available online. Our libraries are embracing modern technology to reach new audiences and better serve citizens. Library users can now check out electronic books for Kindles, Nooks and other digital readers. Many patrons rely on the public libraries for access to computers and a variety of online resources including employment tools, application forms for government and social services, language programs and test preparation tutorials. People depend on the library for current information sources related to health and wellness, finances consumer products, legal issues and genealogy, to name a few. The foundation’s goal is assuring that our libraries remain innovative, leading-edge centers of learning and civic engagement.
CAN’T LIBRARIES THRIVE ON COUNTY AND STATE SUPPORT ALONE?
That support has decreased in recent years, and patrons are feeling the effects. The collections budget has plummeted by 80 percent since 2006. Library opening hours have decreased twice in the past five years. The staffing level in the library system has been reduced by 28%, a figure equal to the number of staff employed when there were seven libraries, instead of the current nine. None of the nine libraries in the system have had to be closed, but that possibility still looms in the future.