What We Do

With your donations the Arlington Libraries Foundation exists to support the Arlington Libraries’ collections and services, as well as any capital needs above and beyond what the Town provides. We do not support basic operations, but rather work with Library Administration to determine where private support can be best used to ensure that Arlington’s libraries thrive and serve as an invaluable resource in our modern world. Most importantly, it is your support that makes our work possible. This fiscal year Arlington Libraries Foundation’s grant provides funding for:

  • The Overdrive Advantage collection, including e-books and audiobooks
  • Self-check stations
  • Furniture items like the popular red rocker chairs found in the Children’s Room
  • Teen Summer Reading titles and prizes
  • An additional Children’s Room librarian on Sundays
  • Kindle e-book readers in the Children’s Room and
  • Additions to the collections of books, audiobooks, music CDs and puppets at both library locations.

Dr. Ebenezer Learned leaves $100 in his will to establish a children’s free library. Two years later, the town voted an annual appropriation to expand public library service for all ages.


After occupying various sites, including the old town hall since 1853, the Arlington Public Library rented a former billiards parlor and amusement shooting gallery in the town’s largest commercial block, whose spaciousness enabled it to expand from simply circulating books, to providing a reading room and reference services for patrons.


A gift of Maria Farmer Robbins, in memory of her husband, Eli Robbins, enabled construction of the present building. Its magnificence was unparalleled for a town of Arlington’s population of just 5,600.


A branch library for rapidly growing East Arlington was established in the basement of the Crosby School — the forerunner of the Edith M. Fox Branch Library.


At the height of the Great Depression, Arlington built a distinctive children’s library addition and made significant improvements to the main building, to meet the needs of a town that had grown to over 36,000 residents.


Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $32,000 to construct the Dallin Branch Library. Located on the corner of Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road, the building was named for its leading benefactor Vittoria C. Dallin. Due to economic constraints facing the town, the branch was closed in 1989, and is now home to Arlington Community Media Inc. (ACMi).


Edith M. Fox left a bequest for the expansion of the East Arlington Branch of the Robbins Library. The building was completed in 1969 and renamed for its chief benefactor.


The community comes together to raise over $500,000 towards an addition and renovation at Robbins Library. The $6.7 million project was financed through municipal funds, a state grant and private donations.


Little over a century after its initial construction, a long-awaited addition to the main library opened its doors and rewarded residents who had waited patiently for generations with exceptional spaces for materials and activities. The $500,000 Anne A. Russell Trust Fund for children’s services was a modern-era gift that reflected Dr. Learned’s bequest for young people that had given Robbins Library its start in 1835.


The Arlington Libraries Foundation, with full support from the Library Board of Trustees, is established to take up the annual appeal for additional library materials funds, and to secure and steward the gifts, grants and endowments that provide essential funds toward the library’s current and long-term goals.


Robbins Library is actively pursuing improved spaces for the Robbins Library and the Fox Branch Library to keep pace with the kinds of  library services that Arlington has come to expect in the 21st century.

Reimagining Our Libraries

In the spring of 2017, library administration and trustees announced a space study and design project, “Reimagining Our Libraries,” with the goal of creating a vision for the future. A working group was assembled of trustees, representatives from library support groups (the Arlington Libraries Foundation, the Friends of the Robbins Library, the Friends of Fox Library), library staff, and Facilities Department staff. Hundreds of residents contributed ideas at two public meetings and through an online survey, and the culmination of this process was a proposal to renovate the Robbins Library and rebuild the Fox Branch Library.

At the Robbins Library, the proposed renovations will provide much needed programmatic changes along with an addition to the rear of the building that includes a lounge on the upper level and ramp accessibly to the community room on the lower level.

At the Fox Branch Library, the proposed new building includes a renovated main level to accommodate dedicated spaces for children, teens and adults, and elevator access to the lower level outfitted with additional new meeting and community rooms.

The libraries share an incredible history and pride of place in the Commonwealth, in the Minuteman Library Network, and within Arlington. We rank among the top ten statewide teen print circulation. Arlington residents expect a high level of service from the Town, from great schools to efficient public works and thoughtful community planning. The libraries are a key part of the social infrastructure that make Arlington such an attractive place to live and work, and these two projects will improve the experience for current library users and future generations.

Library Partners

The Robbins and Fox Branch Libraries are beloved local institutions. As such, they have an amazing cooperative network of Library Partners from which to draw financial support and resources. Responding to priorities outlined by Library Administration and the Board of Trustees, the Arlington Libraries Foundation, Friends of the Robbins Library, Friends of Fox Library, and the Little Fox Shop, Inc. support the library’s mission to create outstanding collections and programs for the Arlington community, and work to ensure their success.

As a fundraising partner, the Arlington Libraries Foundation is a dedicated group of supporters who raise and manage private gifts that increase the library’s impact and reach. The Friends of the Robbins Library, a membership-driven organization which raises funds through member dues and their popular book sale, supports collections, museum passes, programming, furniture, and technology needs above and beyond municipal funding. The Friends of Fox Library raise funds exclusively to support the Fox Branch Library in East Arlington from secondhand sales of donated clothing and merchandise. The Fox & Robbin Shop is a donation-based non-profit and children’s resale shop located inside the Fox Branch Library that benefits the library through the sale of children’s toys, books, and clothing in addition to maternity wear. The seven-member Board of Library Trustees, appointed by the Town Manager, advocates for library services, advises on and approves library policies, and has sole responsibility for the management and expenditure of trust funds. By state law, the Board does not engage in fundraising activities.


Why do you need my donation?

As the fundraising arm of the Arlington Libraries, the Arlington Libraries Foundation seeks private support for improvements and enhancements beyond local government funding.

Donations to the Foundation can be in the form of cash gifts, securities, planned gifts, corporate matching gifts and corporate and foundation grants. The Foundation fundraises and provides grants to the library on an annual basis, and on an as-needed basis for larger initiatives or capital expenditures at the libraries.

Doesn’t the town budget cover the Libraries’ needs?

While public funds make libraries possible, they do not cover the entire budget. Donations and community support allow our libraries to flourish. All contributions go to support technologies, programs, materials, and other community needs.

How are funds managed?

The Arlington Libraries Foundation has a fiduciary responsibility to donors. To ensure the efficient use of these funds, the Arlington Libraries Foundation has established a Financial Committee to:

  • Provide financial oversight for the accounting, management and investment of all donations.
  • Establish an internal management control system.
  • Review and approve an annual operating and grant budget before presenting it to the board for adoption, and to library administration for consideration and planning purposes.
  • Monitor the use of restricted funds and establish spending policies for all resources.
  • Establish and implement investment policies for endowed funds to generate returns while preserving initial capital.

The Arlington Libraries Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered with the IRS and with the State of Massachusetts.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Yes! The Arlington Libraries Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization registered with the IRS and the State of Massachusetts. Contributions are tax-deductible.

How does the Foundation differ from Friends groups?

The Arlington Libraries Foundation, The Friends of the Robbins Library and the Friends of Fox Library are all private non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations managed by volunteer boards and provide needed funding for Arlington’s Libraries.

The Arlington Libraries Foundation was created to raise and manage private gifts that increase the library’s impact and reach. We receive planned gifts for the libraries, as well as outright cash and in-kind donations. The Arlington Libraries Foundation has no members but is managed by a board of private citizens selected for the diversity of their talents.

The Friends of the Robbins Library is a membership organization whereby dues, donations and proceeds from the Friends’ used book sales fund special library initiatives and programs. These include the Library of Things, the museum passes program, the library’s beehives and the Reading Room concert series.

The Friends of Fox Library fundraise exclusively for the Fox Branch Library in East Arlington. Funds mainly come from retail sales of used clothing at their 344 Mass Ave storefront.

How can I get involved?

Please reach out to us at 781-316-3290 or email info@arlingtonlibrariesfoundation.org.

How can I make a contribution?

Thank you for supporting literacy, access and learning in your community. You can make a secure contribution online or mail a contribution to Arlington Libraries Foundation, 700 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA  02476. If you have questions, please call 781-316-3290 or email info@arlingtonlibrariesfoundation.org.

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