Meridian Library District, Silverstone

Nicole Steiner, program specialist for the Silverstone branch of the Meridian Library District, reads a story to library patrons on Feb. 22.

Meridian Library District staff want to avoid asking taxpayers for more financial support for future library branches. Less than a month after voters passed a 10-year, $14 million levy paying for new facilities, library staff announced a new library foundation to help them meet that goal.

The Meridian Library Foundation plans to support the library by raising capital funds. If the foundation is successful, it could mean the library district would forgo coming back to voters in the following years for funds for future branches.

The foundation is in the process of getting accredited as a nonprofit and is independent from the library district, according to Eryn Turner, foundation manager. Over time the foundation wants to create an endowment for the district by setting aside 10% of funds raised annually.

Voters in May passed the library district’s plant facilities levy with 67% approval, far above the 55% needed to pass. The success came after two failed bond attempts in 2015 and 2016. Both times, the district asked for a $12 million bond to build two new branches, and both times 59% of voters approved — but bonds need 66.7% to pass.

The plant facilities levy will bring in $1.4 million a year over 10 years to fund:

n A renovation of the district’s Cherry Lane branch, beginning in 2024

n An expansion of the library’s unBound tech branch in 2020

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n The furnishing of a branch in the future Linder Village development, slated to open in 2021

n A new branch at The Hill that would replace the Silverstone branch lease, starting in 2025.

The funding from the levy will pay for the “bare bones” of these projects, Turner said. Over the coming years, the foundation plans to raise funds to supplement each of the projects, in some cases buying better equipment for branches.

The Meridian Library District’s master facilities plan — published in 2015 — recommends the district operate five libraries across Meridian that can “embrace the suburban design in the city” and “increase convenience for access.” The plan includes facilities in southwest Meridian and northeast Meridian, both of which are not included in the four projects the levy will pay for.

Over the long term, the foundation and endowment will pay for some of those future branches, other capital projects and maintenance of existing branches, said library district Director Gretchen Caserotti. Foundation staff can solicit private donations and grants that aren’t available for the government-funded library, Caserotti said.

The foundation is one of several organizations that partner with the library to help it meet the community’s needs. The Friends of the Meridian Library District is a nonprofit that supports library programs through fundraising and volunteering.

Patty Bowen is the Meridian Press reporter. You can reach her at pbowen@idahopress.com or follow her on Twitter @pattybowenMP.

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