Library supporters in Sarasota County have dreamed of creating a library foundation for many years. Former Library Directors Shirley Amore and Nancy Pike, along with numerous community leaders, were instrumental in developing the concept.

Their efforts date back to 2004, when the library system hosted a workshop featuring Peter Pearson, president of the Friends of the St. Paul Library, a highly successful Minnesota foundation. Pearson is an internationally recognized leader in public libraries, with special expertise in board development, fundraising, advocacy and the creation of foundations.

A milestone in the course of the foundation’s development occurred February 10, 2009 when the Sarasota County Library Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Constance Davis, included the following statement during the Annual Report to the Board of County Commission:

“We look forward to continuing our work on a plan for the future and the investigation of alternate ways of funding, including non-government revenue sources.  We will also support Library Administration in studying the feasibility and mechanics of developing a system-wide library foundation.”

The advisory board then began researching library foundations around the country. Later in 2009, at the invitation of Libraries Director Sarabeth Kalajian, Pearson returned to Sarasota to assist with the planning process.

Representatives of local education and hospital foundations were consulted and research was completed regarding the the legal process required to establish a non-profit organization. Meetings were also held with county commissioners and administrators, local foundation leaders and long-time library supporters.

In January through March, 2010 Pearson and Kalajian met with representatives of the eight Friends of the Library organizations. The Friends are instrumental in providing support to the individual libraries, and developing a supportive partnership with these leaders was considered essential for the future success of the foundation.

In June, 2010 meetings were scheduled to begin creating the foundation structure.  Library staff, Advisory Board members and community advisors developed a roster of prospective board members. From the fall of 2010 through March, 2011, appointments were scheduled with prospective board members and supporters. One by one, the board membership grew, as did the enthusiasm and commitment to create a truly extraordinary foundation.

The first official meeting of the foundation was held on April 4, 2011. The board approved the name Library Foundation for Sarasota County, developed a mission statement and voted to apply for non-profit status.

The Library Foundation for Sarasota County has benefitted from the generous support and advice of scores of community members, who join the board in inviting you to become part of their dream to help our libraries change lives.