Palo Alto's voter-approved quest to reconstruct and expand the city's aged library system has received a major lift from local philanthropists and technologists -- $3 million in donations to pay for books, furniture and technology at the improved facilities.
The Palo Alto Library Foundation, a nonprofit group that is spearheading a $6 million campaign to equip the new libraries, announced Monday night that its fundraising effort has recently reached the halfway point.
The list of donations is headlined by a $1.5 million contribution from the Morgan Family Foundation on behalf of Becky Morgan, a longtime philanthropist who has served as a local school board member, a Santa Clara County supervisor, a California State Senator from 1984 to 1993, and as former president and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley.
The foundation will acknowledge the contribution by honoring Morgan at the Kids Place on the first floor of the rebuilt Mitchell Park Library -- the largest of the three library branches to undergo construction.
Alison Cormack, who is chairing the fundraising campaign, called the contribution an "extraordinary gift" and said the new children's section will be a "fitting tribute" to Morgan because of her involvement in children's education and technology.
The foundation also received more than $500,000 from a group of more than 30 Google employees who live in Palo Alto. The group's donation will be recognized on the second floor of the Mitchell Park library in the new Ventura Technology Learning Center, which will include 22 computers including a teaching station with modern display equipment.
Another sizeable donation came from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which contributed $250,000 to the campaign on Monday. Susie Thom, a member of the campaign, said in a statement that the Packards "always had a strong commitment to local communities, and we are extremely appreciative of this generous gift."
Cormack, who led the successful Measure N library-bond campaign in 2008, said the foundation has received donations ranging from $50 to Morgan's $1.5 million.
"We hope and expect that today's exciting announcement will inspire others to join the campaign," Cormack said at Monday's meeting, where her announcement was greeted with applause from the council.
The foundation's campaign will continue through 2012. More information is available at www.palf.org.