Feeling the same pinch that every other government agency is experiencing these days, the North Riverside Public Library District has formed a not-for-profit foundation to serve as a fundraising arm.
The library formally announced the creation of the North Riverside Library Foundation on Sept. 4.
“It’s something we’ve discussed at the board level for a couple of years,” said library Director Bob Lifka, who is one of eight people on the foundation’s board of directors. Other board members are library district trustees Annette Corgiat and Kay Subaitis; Stephanie Lanken and Joseph DeRosier, who are spouses of library board members; and residents Alice Fingers, Audrey Sprague and Fred Orehek.
“We are always looking for ways for adding revenue and it was suggested that a foundation could be a good avenue,” Lifka said.
The library foundation recently received its 501c3 status after submitting “a ton of paperwork,” according to Lifka. But with the foundation in place, the library can now offer benefactors the ability to write off a portion of any donation on their tax return.
In the past, the majority of gifts to the library came in small amounts – $50 to buy a book in someone’s memory, for example.
“But you never know” when a large gift might come your way, said Lifka, “and you have to be in position if something happens. We’ve positioned ourselves for now and the future.”
The foundation has already held its first small-scale fundraiser, a benefit night last week at the Buona Beef restaurant in Hillside. A portion of all sales will be given back to the library.
The library is also planning similar retail-related benefits during Macy’s Shop for a Cause day on Oct. 17 and Carson Pirie Scott’s Community Day on Nov. 14. Coupons for those days will be available at the library, 2400 Desplaines Ave.
“The next thing we’ll work on is long-range planning, creating brochures that explain the benefits of making a bequest to the foundation,” Lifka said.
Two years ago, the North Riverside Library underwent a large-scale renovation project that turned an unfinished basement space into its Youth Services department. It’s that kind of endeavor that a foundation could help fund.
Lifka said that money donated through the foundation would not be used to help pay for day-to-day operations or to build an operational fund reserve.
“We’re looking at this for things we could otherwise not afford,” Lifka said. For example, he said, there is a large blank wall in the Young Adult area. A mural would be a fine addition there, but there’s no way to fund such an item through the operating budget.
“We also want these types of purchases to be highly visible,” Lifka said. “I don’t think we’d use it to upgrade the air conditioning.”
The North Riverside library district is a fairly young agency. It was created via referendum in 1984 and was housed in a building at 2501 Desplaines Ave. In 1996, the district waged another successful referendum campaign to issue bonds to fund the land purchase and construction of the present library.
In 2002, the district completed the trifecta with a successful referendum to increase the operating rate to pay for the library’s expanded services and costs related to operating the new building.