We’re excited to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Arlington Libraries Foundation with you, our valued community!  

In 2013, we set out with big ambitions to help the Robbins and Fox Branch Libraries not just survive as Arlington’s venerated cultural institutions but thrive and grow with the community. As such, Arlington needed an organization that could harness the power of donors like you and become the primary fundraising arm for the libraries — we were it. The Arlington Libraries Foundation.

We did not have a staff then and still don’t. We did however inherit an annual fund from the Library Board of Trustees that produced about $59,000 in that first year, and a mission to use those funds for the libraries current and long-term goals. 

Our early board members had talent and rich ties to the community. And most importantly, they shared a deep love for our libraries. So, they made it work. Over the first five years, the annual appeal raised on average $54,000 – not exponential growth but not bad. Meanwhile, the Foundation was learning about web sites and social media and donor databases and messaging: the whole complement of skills needed to make the Foundation what the libraries needed. 

By 2017-18, donations to the annual fund began to grow. Last year (2021-22) the Foundation received $174,000 in donations (including a one-time contribution to digitize the libraries’ collection of historic local newspapers from local historian Richard A. Duffy, a visionary early chair of the Foundation). This year we are only a little behind that pace. 

Now, however, we are ready to begin an exciting new chapter. The libraries are making plans to rebuild the Fox Branch Library and create a fully accessible building that meets the needs of disabled visitors. A new library space will provide traditional library collections and services, and help the library grow to meet new needs. At Robbins the children’s room, teen space, and first floor Reference area will get updates to make them more inviting, flexible, and user-friendly. All this will require of the Foundation new skills, new strategies, new dedication … and the same love of our libraries that has inspired us from the beginning. 

Birthdays are never about the past. They are about the future. Thank you for being part of our journey. We can hardly wait!

Pat Hanlon