Champaign library donations $500,000 shy of goal

Champaign library donations $500,000 shy of goal

CHAMPAIGN – With help from a generous but publicity-shy benefactor, the Champaign Public Library Foundation has raised $2.5 million toward its $3 million goal for the new library building.

The donor – whom library Director Marsha Grove declined to identify even as a man, woman or family – provided a $1 million matching challenge grant that has been more than met.

"It really speaks well for the philanthropic community," Grove said. "It's a wonderfully generous, community-minded gift. It has been really helpful in raising other money."

Library Foundation President Barry Brindley said the $1 million gift has been on the table for several years "and a backdrop to everything we've tried to do."

"It's intriguing (about the anonymous donor) but I really can't say anything," Brindley said. "Obviously, the donor's local, but the donor has been very adamant about not wanting recognition."

The library foundation is now broadening its fundraising campaign to the general public to raise the remaining $500,000, after concentrating the past three years on "leadership gifts."

The public portion of the campaign kicked off Friday night with a dinner at the Champaign Country Club, where Kyle and Phyllis Robeson of Champaign were announced as honorary campaign chairmen.

The Robesons have pledged $500,000 to the campaign. The meeting room pavilion in the new library will be dedicated to the Robeson family.

"My mother was a school teacher," Kyle Robeson said. "My wife was a school teacher. Our community was built on the foundation of education, and the library is number one."

He called the $29.4 million library construction project "exciting."

Other major donors include Ann and Shahid Khan, who pledged $250,000. The library's checkout area will be dedicated to them.

The Donald C. Dodds, Newton H. Dodds and Marci Dodds-Jon Sokolski families are making a combined $200,000 gift for the children's program room and teen area.

A number of other donors have given gifts and pledges totaling more than $500,000.

"It says a lot that these community members value our library so much that they would make this kind of investment in it," Grove said. "We take their faith in us very seriously and are committed to creating one of the best public libraries in the nation."

The new library, which will be 122,600 square feet, is beginning to take shape just north of the current library at 505 S. Randolph St. Construction workers are pouring concrete on the second floor, and completion of the library is expected sometime during the summer of 2007.

The facility will include a basement, two stories and a partial third story for administrative offices and technical services. The facility will have three times as much room as the current library.

The public fundraising drive will include "fairly extensive public relations efforts," said Brindley, including billboards, advertising, brochures and a direct mail effort.

"We're hoping to meet our $500,000 goal by January," he said.

"We need small donors," Grove said. "It really is a public library for everyone, and everyone needs to be involved."

Once the $3 million goal is met, Grove said the library will be asking for donations to the library's endowment for materials. With three times as much space, the library will need more books and other materials for its shelves, she said.

Circulation at the library was up 9 percent for the budget year that ended June 30, Grove said.

"The library checks out an average of 24 books each year for every person living in Champaign," she said. "The typical public library checks out nine books per capita. We expect our circulation to increase by 20 to 50 percent when the new library opens."

Library donors can receive recognition

Library donation options and information:

Residents who want to have their name, or that of a friend or loved one, permanently inscribed at the new Champaign Public Library can do so by giving $250 to $1,000. That will buy the donor space on large outdoor patio pavers.

For a gift of $5,000, the library will permanently dedicate a shelf to the donor or a designee.

For gifts of $10,000 or more, the donor's name can be permanently etched on a glass wall in the lobby of the new library.

People who make a gift of $150 or more before January 2007 will receive a metal commemorative bookmark.

Donations can be mailed to the Champaign Public Library Foundation, 505 S. Randolph St., Champaign, IL 61820. Donations also can be made through the library's Web site at www.champaign.org.

Library Development Director Donna Pittman can be contacted for information at 403-2048 or dpittman@champaign.org.

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