Falmouth library gets much-needed fundraising boost

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FALMOUTH — Marsha Clark is sleeping better at night now that an anonymous donor has stepped forward with a $250,000 matching grant for Falmouth Memorial Library.

That donation should go a long way toward helping the library raise the remaining approximately $600,000 it needs by the end of the year to move forward with a $5.62 million renovation and expansion project that was first approved in a November 2014 referendum.

At that time voters agreed to borrow $2.81 million for the project, if the library would raise another $2.81 million privately.

It’s taken three years and the library is still well short of its goal. But this week Clark, president of the library board, said she’s confident the funding still needed will come in by midnight Dec. 31.

“People are continuing to come forward so generously,” she said. “I’m still hoping this will happen because people have worked so hard on this and now it’s time to take the next step and get the building built.”

Clark previously described the library’s capital project as being “all about needing more space.”

“The library is the focal point of the community. It’s not just about about books, it’s about creating a facility where people want to come, from the youngest in town to the oldest,” she said.

The goal is to add another 8,000 square feet to the library. As part of the project, the original farmhouse and a 1964 addition would be razed and replaced, while the 1995 entry lobby would remain.

The project includes a separate youth services wing, a variety of new community seating areas, a separate reading room and increased access to computers and other technology, among other innovations.

Andi Jackson-Darling, the library director, said the expansion and renovation project is “a recognition of the changes and evolution of libraries” and the need to “keep up with changes and stay relevant.”

Although Clark remains confident and hopeful the remaining money can be raised in time, she said the library board has discussed and recognizes that “what we can do is very much dependent on what we can raise.”

The library had already sought permission from the town to extend its fundraising activities through the end of this year, and Clark said it will not seek another extension.

With the $250,000 matching grant, she said, “I’m feeling good about this.”

“I think people are now recognizing that we’re coming up on the deadline and there’s a real sense of urgency. Now is the time; that’s the mantra. We’re so close, if people can just continue to donate, it will push us over the top.”

Clark said social media outreach has been very helpful in raising the money needed, noting that an email blast sent out Sunday evening resulted in 19 new donations by Monday morning.

She said donations can be made in person, online and through the mail.

“Any amount is welcome.”

Clark is also confident that those who sign up under the 1718 Society and who pledge a total of $3,000 toward the project over five years will come through on that promise.

“Our experience has been that 100 percent of pledges get paid off, because people really do care,” she said.

Under the challenge grant, every dollar the library raises between now and Dec. 31 will be matched up to $250,000. So far, Clark said the library has raised $2.19 million toward its goal, but there’s still a long way to go.

That’s why “this donation to the library’s capital campaign could not have come at a better time,” said Peter Goffin, the capital campaign co-chairman.

“We are getting so close to reaching our goal and we hope people will come forward, meet this challenge. Every donation or pledge will have an impact,” Goffin said.

In a press release announcing the challenge grant, the library noted that Falmouth has just over 11,000 residents and more than 7,000 of those are library cardholders.

With that much usage, Jackson-Darling said the building simply “cannot meet the needs of library patrons,” adding, “the infrastructure in the old part of the building is in serious need of repair.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The Falmouth Memorial Library has until Dec. 31 to raise the remaining $600,000 needed for an addition and renovations.

Andi Jackson-Darling, director of the Falmouth Memorial Library, received a check for $841.16 from the Falmouth Middle School Service Club Dec. 7. The money will go toward the teen space at the new library.