By Rob Montana
Non-profit organizations are plentiful throughout Tompkins County, and make a big impact in our communities. Despite their contributions, area non-profits can sometimes go unnoticed or unknown. In an effort to shine a spotlight on those who are making a difference in our county, Tompkins Weekly will be showcasing these organizations on a regular basis.
This week we are highlighting the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation, which supports the efforts of the county’s library. To learn more about the organization, we interviewed Suzanne Smith Jablonski, executive director of the foundation.
Tompkins Weekly: What is your mission?
Suzanne Smith Jablonski: The Tompkins County Public Library Foundation serves as a bridge between the community and the library, making it possible for individuals, businesses, trusts and granting organizations to ensure the Library’s ability to keep up with evolving community needs, increased usage, changing demographics and major shifts in technology and publishing.
TW: How do you fulfill that mission?
SSJ: Our mission is fulfilled through gifts to our Annual Fund and support of fundraising efforts like our upcoming Inside Story event (scheduled for Wednesday, May 31), our fall READATHON and Library Lover’s Month, as well as our recently completed 21st Century Library Campaign and the TCPL LEGO Build. We also work directly with library staff to identify and pursue grants in support of special programs and projects.
TW: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces?
SSJ: We are fortunate to be part of a community that truly recognizes the importance of a vibrant, thriving public library, and has consistently supported our efforts to ensure that TCPL remains the cornerstone of Tompkins County. Our primary challenge, and also one of our library’s biggest assets, is that there are a tremendous number of local organizations deserving of support. Our library is fortunate to partner with many of those organizations for programming and collaborations which highlight our shared services.
We also compete with the notion that public libraries are entirely supported by tax dollars. While TCPL receives a significant portion of its operating revenue from Tompkins County, these funds are used to keep the doors open, the building staffed and the lights on. Our services, programs and collections would not be possible without private financial support.
TW: What is something people do not know about your organization?
SSJ: Since 1993, the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation has raised more than $9 million. This includes allocations for the library’s collections, which are almost entirely privately funded.
Contributions range from funds raised at children’s lemonade stands to entire estates. No gift is too small to impact the work of the library, and we try to make giving convenient and affordable by offering multiple opportunities for one-time giving and automatic monthly payment options.
TW: How can people best support your mission?
SSJ: People can support our mission with a financial contribution by visiting our website, by advocating for public libraries at the local, state and national level and by taking advantage of the incredible resources, programs and services provided by TCPL.
For more information about the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation, visit its website at TCPLFoundation.org.