Palo Alto libraries get $3 million in gifts

Local philanthropists donate to Library Foundation's campaign to equip libraries hits halfway mark

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

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Like this comment
Posted by Kris Loew
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

Congratulations! The Palo Alto Library Foundation has done an incredible service to our wonderful city! Thank you especially to Alison Cormack and Lynne Russell, starting with their tireless efforts in 2008 in getting Measure N passed to their current campaign to raise the funds to FILL the libraries. YEARS of volunteer work have gone into this effort -- and it's exhilarating to see it all paying off! Big cheers to the Morgans, Packard, Google, the PALF board -- and all of the "little checks" that keep rolling in!

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Who Loves Our Libraries
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:36 am

That is wonderful news! The Library Foundation leadership has done an amazing job. Hats off to you!...and many thanks to all of the generous donors. I may send another donation today. Join me.

Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

thank you thank you

Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Wow! What wonderful news! Our libraries are our treasures, and it's great to hear about such major contributions to their continuing excellence.

Like this comment
Posted by FOPAL feh
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

"Our libraries are our treasures"

That is why we need more branches in the city--5 are not enough. If we want walkable neighborhoods then every neighborhood should have a fully staffed library chock full of books, magazines, papers and computer.
Actually, our libraries are an embarrassment and will remain so after the expensive remodeling. Waste of money and a waste of resources just to pander to a vocal group of self-serving individuals (FOPAL) and a small group of vocal residents who think 5 out of date libraries are "quaint".

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