The Santa Barbara main library has launched the last phase of a fundraising drive to expand the children’s services area by four times the current size, which has been inadequate for years.
“We really look out to the community and say, ‘what do you need’ and respond to those needs,” said Library Director Irene Macias. She says the library is a “community gathering place. We are about books but we are also about people getting together , exploring together, learning together.”
Macias has been encouraging children to visit the library and use its resources for years, and says the numbers are up. The summer reading program alone saw a 57 percent increase. She says often, at the library front door, children and their parents come in together and the kids run to their section to explore with the books and learning computers.
Mayor Helene Schneider says the city has added $500,000 into the funding pot for this project and urges others to donate as a collaboration between government and private partners. “It’s a great way to get involved. It’s a great way to allow every child in our area to explore the love of reading,” said Schneider. The city is also funding new improvements to the library entrance plaza.
Former Santa Barbara City College President Peter MacDougall says the investment will bring years of returns with local children. “When we do that, we are giving them such a start on life,” he said. He was surprised the project was not already funded in a community such as Santa Barbara with a strong backing for educational initiatives. MacDougall told a gathering of civic, political and philanthropic leaders meeting at the library that now is the time to follow through with the long awaited and badly needed expansion for children.
The project will cost $5.6 million. So far through city and private donations, the funding is well underway. The current effort is for private contributions of $2.2 million to make the project a reality.
If you would like to contribute to the fundraising, you can contact the library at 564-5675 or www.SBChildrensLibrary.org