Enhancing Berkeley’s libraries year after year
In the early 1990s, Berkeley’s Central Library, a national landmark, and its four branches were among the busiest and innovative in California, but suffering from decades of neglect. The City’s Board of Library Trustees determined that the system was worn out, overcrowded, seismically unsafe, and unacceptably inaccessible to the disabled.
Community leaders responded with a plan to restore all five libraries to vibrant community centers able to meet the needs of our diverse community. They began with a campaign to expand and refurbish the Central Library, fueled in 1996 by a $30 million bond measure approved by Berkeley voters.
As architects finalized drawings for Central, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation incorporated as a non-profit dedicated to raising the private funds necessary to turn the beautifully upgraded building into the library our community envisioned. The next four years brought a $4 million “We Love the Library” campaign that provided the furniture, technology, and other interior fittings that by law the bond measure could not fund. Since that time the Foundation has continued to raise funds to support ongoing Library facilities, programs and services.
The Work Continues
In Fall 2008, Berkeley voters passed Measure FF, which commits $26 million to renovate, expand, and make seismic and access improvements in the four neighborhood branch libraries, Claremont, North, South and West. As we did for the Central Library, the Berkeley Public Library Foundation is raising funds through The Neighborhood Libraries Campaign to equip and furnish the interiors—to pay for the computers, tables and chairs, furniture and equipment that are so essential to creating the libraries we want and that our community deserves.