Hey, Boiseans, want a laser cutter? The Boise Public Library Foundation is going to buy one

Boise Public Library’s Main Branch on Capitol Boulevard. Future plans include expanding this branch, which opened in the mid-1970s.
Boise Public Library’s Main Branch on Capitol Boulevard. Future plans include expanding this branch, which opened in the mid-1970s. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Boiseans clearly love their library. By Friday, patrons had helped raise more than $38,400 for the library’s coffers through the “Invest $16 for ’16” campaign. That’s 120 percent of the campaign’s original goal, with more than 460 patrons contributing, said Foundation Chairwoman Bev Harad.

The Boise Public Library Foundation’s “Invest $16 for ’16” followed last year’s campaign that asked donors to give $15 (or more) in 2015. The 2015 effort raised $32,000 and helped pay for new computers, 3-D programming and printers and new software, including Adobe Creative Suite.

This year’s campaign matched and exceeded the 2015 amount by Christmas, bringing in enough money to pay for a mobile pop-up library, virtual reality stations and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) classes for kids.

This year’s campaign was so successful, said Harad, the foundation board decided to set an updated goal of raising $36,000 to pay for a laser cutter in addition to the original items. That laser cutter is now on order.

If the library can raise around $500 more, it will buy programmable robots and coding kits. “Geared to kids, all the way up to seniors who may need to refresh skills for careers,” said Harad.

Donors can give online through boisepubliclibrary.org or can donate via cash or check at any library branch. Specify that your donation is to the Boise Public Library Foundation.

More about the library foundation’s fundraising program

Harad said the foundation did not have a long history of fundraising campaigns when members sent out a flier asking for donations in 2013 to see what might happen.

“We brought in $11,000. For the library, that’s a lot of money,” said Harad.

The foundation picked up fundraising again in 2015 with its $15 campaign.

“Most people can give $15. The gut reaction was that there would be some people who would sit down to write their $15 check, then decide to round it up or double it,” said Harad.

She was right. The average donation amount ended up at $90.

A couple of $1,000 donations raised the average. “But still,” said Harad, “the bottom line is almost everybody had the ability to donate and feel good. Of course you want the money, but when it comes to the library, you also want a sense of community and goodwill.”

The 2016 campaign, along with its theme of emphasizing the power of many modest donations, is also interactive. The foundation printed “$16 for ’16” campaign brochures for patrons who aren’t web-savvy. It also maintains a Facebook page with daily fundraising updates. Donors are encouraged to post selfies when they make their library donations. Local luminaries, including writer Tony Doerr and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, have posted photos.