Posts Tagged ‘Library Capital Campaign’


Give a gift that lasts

December 23, 2009

The following was written by Dr. James Fitzpatrick, chair of the library’s Foster Growth capital campaign.  It appeared in the Daily Jefferson County Union’s  “At the library” column on Monday, December 21, 2009.

A Lasting Christmas Gift to the Community by Dr. James Fitzpatrick, capital campaign chair

As the holiday season is upon us we are pleased to inform citizens that our Dwight Foster capital campaign has gone well.  The plan calls for an expansion of 12,000 square feet along with the renovation of our current space.  As we get closer to the construction phase it is critical that we have the donations needed to move forward.  Our library is one of our crown jewels in this community and we are excited to make it even more so.

In this the holiday season, we would like to ask citizens to consider a donation to our Foster Growth capital campaign.  Such a gift will have a long lasting impact that will benefit people of all ages for many years to come.    The holidays are a perfect time to think about giving.  Please consider a charitable contribution to a cause that will help ensure excellent library services for our community for now…and for those who follow. You may make your gift in memory or honor of someone special in your life.  We’ve even had a donation in honor of Fort Atkinson High School’s class of 1964.  What a great way to pay tribute! We cannot express adequately in words our thanks to so many who have already given generously to this most worthy cause.  And we’d love nothing more than to add you to the list of people who have given to help us improve our library.

There is still time to make your donation by making out a check to the FACF Library Fund and send it in care of Connie Meyer, Director, Dwight Foster Public Library, 102 E. Milwaukee Avenue, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538.  If you prefer, you may drop off your gift at the library or donate online with your credit card.  Online donations are made through the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation’s website here.

Happiest of holidays to each of you and thank you for considering helping us foster growth in Fort Atkinson.


Let me be perfectly clear…

October 29, 2009

In September, I sent an email to library staff members with the following subject line:  Thank you but…no more donations.

It wasn’t more than a few minutes and someone said to me, “Wow, the fundraising is over?”

What?  “Where in the world did you get that idea?”

“From your email,” was the reply.  “I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but your subject line indicated we don’t need any more donations.”

Oh my!  That’s not what I meant to say at all!

Here we are in the middle of a capital campaign, trying to raise a large amount of money for our library expansion and renovation project and I was sending an email with the headline announcing we didn’t want any more donations.  What in the world was I thinking?

Well, I wasn’t thinking of course.

We DO want donations.  We need donations.  We can’t do this project without donations.

This was a glaring example of the need to write a better headline.  (It’s also an example of the need to read beyond the headlines if there ever was one.)  Staff needed to read the entire email.   In the body of the email  I was alerting them to the fact that we need to officially stop taking gifts of books and magazines.  People have always been very generous and regularly bring us bags and boxes full of books, DVDs, videos, music CDs, and magazines.   Occasionally we put items in our library’s collection; usually our Friends of the Library takes the items and sells them in our book sales.  Either way the library benefits.   We’ve always greatly appreciated the donations.

However, we are now in the position of cleaning house in preparation for our building project.  We cannot pay to move and store used books so we must make sure they are all out of the facility before Spring.  We will be having increasingly aggressively priced  book sales leading up to our move.  But we do need to call a moratorium on accepting additional materials at this time so we can cope with what we have.  At this time we need to say thank you, but no thank you, to donations of physical items.  So let me be clear.  The moratorium is on the donations of materials.  We don’t have a similar problem with monetary donations.  The Fort Atkinson Community Foundation has plenty of storage capacity for donations to our library fund!  (Did you ever notice how little space money actually requires?)

Anyway, that’s what I meant to say.

I guess it’s good that I had such a wildly inappropriate subject line for my staff email.  It taught me to pay more attention when writing future communications.  Notice the headline of this post has been more carefully crafted; it’s nice and vague.

In life, often times we aren’t lucky enough to get a do-over.   The pink pearl eraser simply doesn’t fix it.  In that case, what you can do is analyze just where you went wrong.   That way you can make a different mistake next time!


A “salt of the earth” business proves it

October 4, 2009

Vince Kent of Abendroth Water Conditioning is the chair of the business division for our Foster Growth capital campaign.  He’s a “salt of the earth”  kind of guy (in more ways than one) and we were delighted when he agreed to step up to the plate and join our campaign.  He’s been instrumental in asking businesses throughout our community to support our fundraising effort.   He’s got great ideas, including one he’s using in his own business.  He’s donating a portion of all the water softener salt sales of his business throughout our building project.     We are so very grateful for his generosity with his time and expertise as well as his financial commitment to our library.

If you’d like to help our library, please consider buying your salt from Abendroth Water Conditioning.    If you’re a business, don’t hesitate to contact Vince to discuss innovative ways you too can help.  We’d sure appreciate your support.  All donations of $500 or more receive a place on our donor wall…which will provide long-lasting recognition for your business, your family, or yourself.

We have some great Foster Growth T-shirts and hoodies for sale at the library and the farmer’s market.  But maybe we should think about adding a few of these to our line!  (Not exactly the right type of salt, but definitely the right idea!)


The importance of early donations

September 14, 2009

In a capital campaign, the early stage of fundraising is extremely important.   That’s when you ask potential donors to commit to your project.  If you are successful securing initial gifts and pledges, you can move forward with your project.  If you are not, you obviously need to stop and reassess.

We were very fortunate to receive important commitments over the last year, especially given the tumultuous economic climate.  Having that support allowed us to move into the public phase  of our capital campaign this summer.    I’d like to take a moment to thank the people, companies, and organizations who said “yes” early on.  Those who shared our vision and agreed to help may not know just how important they were.  But they were; they were key to our ability to progress with our plans.

I think the remarks from our city manager, John Wilmet, at our library’s kickoff event were excellent and should be shared to give proper credit to those who believed in our project.  We have been blessed with additional important donations since then.  We’ll list those in future blog posts.  But today I’ll share with you the listing of the first donations we received by way of John Wilmet’s remarks at the Foster Growth capital campaign kickoff:

I have the honor of announcing and presenting the major gifts that have been secured for the capital campaign.  This project is certainly an example of public/private partnership of which we can all be proud.  The city of Fort Atkinson values its library.   We understand that everyone plays a role in its ability to be the best possible library for our community.  After all, it is not up to someone else.  It is our responsibility.  When shared, the dream can become a reality.  We would like to sincerely thank those who responded to our request for donations in the early phase of this capital campaign.  Because you committed to our project early on, we were able to move forward with confidence during a time when the economic climate indicated it might be best not to.  There were many reasons to continue on in our planning not the least of which is that the library facility absolutely needs upgrading and expansion. Additionally, the building climate is competitive and library use is soaring.  We’ve planned the timing on our debt carefully and staying the course with our city’s capital improvement plan provides stability over the course of time which is always important to taxpayers and vital to our financial health.

The lead gift from the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation in the amount of $1.5 million dollars amounts to half of our fundraising goal of $3.0 million.  I think, on behalf of the citizens of Fort Atkinson, it is safe to say that your investment in our library will pay dividends well into the future.   As the city manager, I believe that the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation’s unwavering support of this (and many projects) does make all the difference in the world and really allows this community to thrive.  Thank you.

A gift of $350,000 has also been secured with the donor wishing to remain anonymous.  This gift, an incredible example of generosity, speaks to us all because it makes a difference for our citizens, one by year, year by year.  We are honored and appreciative to be the recipient of such philanthropy.  Deepest thanks for that.

Philip Jones, of Jones Dairy Farm, was unable to be with us today.  He asked that we read the following:

“Both the Jones Dairy Farm and the Jones family have a long tradition of supporting important community projects.  The library expansion and renovation project is probably the best example I can think of in terms of impact. All of our citizens benefit from a library that is healthy and vibrant.  The businesses benefit too because we see the improvement in the lives of our employees as a result of access to the world of information.  Local tourism benefits because it is yet another place for travelers to explore.  Our community benefits because there is a demonstrated return on investment as a result of a library in a community.  The facility, while not the only factor in providing excellent library services, is a key component.

It’s always been important to Jones Dairy Farm to be an active participant in helping our community, fostering growth at opportune times.  Libraries are more important now than ever.  We are proud to be an early donor to the library’s capital campaign.”

We thank Philip Jones, the entire Jones family, and Jones Dairy Farm for their generosity and consistent commitment to Fort Atkinson.  They have secured the naming rights to the adult collections.

A gift of $150,000 from the Fort Community Credit Union allowed the Credit Union to secure naming rights for the community meeting room.  We couldn’t be more grateful to the Credit Union for agreeing to fund the much needed expanded space for our citizens to gather and meet.  With after-hours accessibility, we know this will be enormously beneficial to our citizens.  This generous gift was especially appreciated because it was given in the early stages of our campaign and allowed us to continue planning our design with confidence that we were able to meet our early financial obligations.  The Fort Community Credit Union has demonstrated the spirit behind the word “community” in their name.  Thank you.

I’m delighted to report a gift of $150,000 from PremierBank.  PremierBank has secured the naming rights to what we are calling our premier entrance.  As we’ve just finished another round of design work, I can tell you that we are putting significant thought and effort into the design of our entry and checkout area.  At the moment, the plan calls for the staircase to be placed adjacent to the existing historic bow window in the 1931 section of the building.  Allowing people to walk next to it, see it, and touch it is one way that we are attempting to rediscover the parts of the library that have been covered in over time.  It is one of the reasons this library will be considered even more of an architectural gem at the end of the project.  Thank you to PremierBank for demonstrating that you are interested in helping us be a premier library.  Your commitment to our project is applauded and appreciated.

The Highsmith Family secured the naming rights to the Young Adult Library.  The library has never before had an area dedicated to the young adults in our community.  A space for them is considered very important in a modern-day library and we are proud to be able to allocate space specifically for this age group.  As teens move into adulthood, it is important to respond to their unique needs in an effort to reach them and teach them.  The Highsmith family understands libraries and their responsibilities to their communities.   We are grateful that they have committed to provide such generous financial support which allows us to deliver on this responsibility for the first time in our history.

Finally, we have received the following major donations that I’d like to announce:

The Spacesaver Corporation has committed to making a substantial in-kind donation for shelving.  As the home of the Spacesaver Corporation we are so appreciative that they continue to support our community.  The gift of past mobile shelving as well as fixed shelving units, the generosity of the company has allowed our library to be enormously efficient.  Since efficiencies are important to this project, we couldn’t be more appreciative.  Your corporate citizenship is to be applauded.

Naming rights to two study rooms have been secured.  The Negus family is generously sponsoring one and the Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson the other.  Because one of the areas of need in our community is for small group study rooms we have considered these a high priority in our design.  Allowing tutoring and small group studying to take place in a room that is sized for the group is not only an efficient use of space, it is much more desirable for the people.  Thank you to the Negus family and the Rotary Club for your gifts to help the education of our citizens, helping them to help each other.

We do have a few more naming opportunities available.  I use the word “opportunity” because this is, indeed, an opportunity.  The chance to make a gift to our community through our improved library will not come along again…at least probably not in my lifetime.  Please contact either Connie Meyer or me if you’d like to discuss securing a naming opportunity.

Those mentioned today are surely deserving of thanks from us all.  It is through their willingness to give to others that we are able to move forward in creating a library that will serve our community in the best possible way for many years to come.

I was informed yesterday that we’ve surpassed the $1 million dollars pledged of our $1.5 million campaign. While it might seem that we are home free and don’t need you, I can assure you that we do.  Five hundred thousand dollars is a great deal of money.  We have a lot of work to do to fundraise that many dollars.  Thank you for your help and support.


Cents and sensibility

September 10, 2009

Just the other day I read an article in Kiplinger’s entitled Fabulous freebies. The list of fabulous freebies includes “free movies and books from the public library. ” It’s number 15, among some other good ideas.  There have been many similar articles citing the library as an excellent choice if you are interested in saving money and still having incredible access to resources.  It just makes “cents.”

That reminded me that even though the timing on our capital campaign might not be the best in the world, the timing on our relevance to our community couldn’t be better.   The library board discussed that very thing as we were deciding whether or not we should head into the fundraising phase of our project just as the stock market plummeted last  Fall.  How could we ask people to be generous and philanthropic now?  But then again, how could we not when our usage is soaring and continues to demonstrate our importance to our citizens?  Also, wasn’t there opportunity in moving forward with a construction project at a time when prices had either stabilized or dropped on building materials?  And what about the fact that the project would employ people in a vast array of construction trades during a time where companies are looking for work as opposed to too busy to bid on the project?

Most things in life have both opportunities and threats, pros and cons, good and bad.   I’ve always believed the “double edged sword” is worth acknowledging and understanding.  Delving deeper generally allows you to find a place of balance…and likely your best solution.

Every day I see people using the library to research, study, examine, explore.  Whether they are looking up the review in Consumer Reports or studying alternative investments, people use resources to help them make good decisions and, ultimately, to make sense of their world.  We are honored to help in the process.

This actually reminds me of our library’s vision statement:

The Dwight Foster Public Library seeks to ignite the quest for knowledge and understanding and provide the necessary resources for life’s journey for each member of our community.  Our facility, programs, and collections must be the anchor of our community, as we strive to preserve the record of history, inspire discovery, and make accessible the vast body of information so that all can learn, share, grow, and contribute.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me longer than it should have to cite our library’s vision statement in this blog.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it every day.  It’s the driving force behind all we do and the reason we have moved forward with fostering growth in Fort Atkinson.

So libraries really are about cents…and sensibility.  (My apologies to Jane Austen; I just couldn’t resist.)


Things are cooking at our library

September 4, 2009

Things are cooking with the library expansion and renovation project in more ways than one!  We had another round of design workshops this week and made some really smart changes to the plan.  I’ll post the updated plans and renderings when I have them.

The fundraising is moving along on schedule thanks to the incredible generosity of people of the Fort Atkinson area and beyond.

Also, the long awaited, much heralded library cookbook, compiled by the staff, board members, and folks from the Friends of the Library, is hot off the press and now available for purchase.  It’s a compilation of the recipes from nine years of annual cookbook pamphlets as well as a few recipes from the cookbooks of the early 1980s and also includes some brand new recipes added as a bonus.   Tried and true recipes, this cookbook will be the one you turn to first!  It has an index in the back making it easy to find the perfect recipe for any occasion.  Priced at just $10 with the profit going to the library’s building fund, we hope that you’ll want to buy multiple copies and give them as gifts to all the cooks on your list.cookbook

The order form is available on our website for those of you who don’t live nearby.

You might want to know that our library system’s materials transit van delivery driver has actually told us that our library has difficult and problematic accessibility, the worst of all the libraries he visits…but that our delectable treats make up for it.  (Okay, he didn’t use the word delectable, but I’m sure it’s what he meant.)

Many of the recipes are in this very cookbook…tried and true.  Just ask the van guy.


Eat and grow (oh wait, I mean…help *us* grow)

August 14, 2009

Two great eating opportunities await area folks this weekend. The proceeds from each event will support our Foster Growth capital campaign.

On Saturday, August 15th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. a brat fry will take place at the Pick ‘n Save on Madison Avenue in Fort Atkinson.  Buy a brat and help support our fundraising efforts. 

On Sunday, August 16, 2009 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. the Fort Atkinson Lions Club will be hosting their 47th annual corn and chicken feed.  We are very grateful to the Lion’s Club for making the decision to earmark the proceeds from this event to the library expansion and renovation project and encourage everyone to get to Jones Park to eat.  (Carryouts are also available.)  Why not buy a ticket for everyone?

Dont forget to buy a ticket for Fluffy!

Even Fluffy loves corn on the cob!


Words to live by: Don’t settle, wear sunscreen, and for heaven’s sake, share

June 4, 2009

It’s graduation time.   I always enjoy this time of year because I think such an important life passage is to be honored, appreciated, and remembered.

Plus I love to read graduation-related books and speeches.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it is because graduating always made me incredibly happy! (As opposed to studying.)  Several years ago I read the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford and I thought it was particularly inspirational.  I found the speech on YouTube and thought I’d post it here for your viewing pleasure.

Then there’s the famous, Wear Sunscreen “commencement speech” that was actually not a speech at all, but a “Here’s what I would say if anybody ever asked me to give a graduation speech” essay.  A column originally published in the Chicago Tribune, it was written by Mary Schmich but initially attributed to Kurt Vonnegut incorrectly on the Internet.   Listen to a fascinating interview with Schmich here. (Note:  the actual program doesn’t start until about 30 seconds into the audio.)  You can also read the full text of the Schmich’s beloved column here.

I recently purchased a book called What Now?: Words of wisdom for life after graduation by Jennifer Leigh Selig.  I absolutely love this book for all the wisdom packed in 333 pages.   I was thinking I would give this book to my son as a gift since he’s graduating this year.

But I’m not sure I can part with it.  Maybe I’ll just have to distill it for him and give him a series of envelopes with the best of the words of wisdom collected from a variety of  sources such as I’ve mentioned and other books like, All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.   A batch of envelopes with advice will likely be a better delivery method than my usual barrage of motherly “guidance” because it can be managed…apportioned over a longer period of time…sort of like time released medicine!  (I can pretty much guarantee he’s not likely to rip open all the envelopes and pore over them on graduation day.  Unless he thinks there’s money inside.)   So that’s my plan.  I feel it’s appropriate that I send him on his journey with a box full of…words.

My son’s first envelope might look like this:

Wear sunscreen.  Never settle.  Always do your best.  Work hard.  Pay your bills. Vote.  Get a library card.  Practice the golden rule.  Don’t live beyond your means.  Be respectful.  Love deeply.  Live honestly.  Laugh often.  And for heaven’s sake, share.

Darn.  That’s too many ideas for one envelope.    Maybe I should just have one idea per envelope with supporting documentation.

Expanding on the sharing idea, how about this for the first one?

Give to a worthy cause.

It just so happens I’ve got the perfect supporting documentation for that idea  in the form of a Foster Growth library capital campaign brochure, complete with a form for easy donating.


Warmest congratulations to the entire class of 2009, especially to library staffers Eric, Elizabeth, and Tirzah as well as David and Hans (not staffers, but close).    You’ve worked hard to get where you are today.   May each of you find that your next chapter is filled with all the best that life has to offer.  And lots of bottles of sunscreen.


A big COMMUNITY boost

April 30, 2009

Fort Community Credit Union delivers a check for $150,000 (Photo courtesy of James Debilzen of the Daily Jefferson County Union)

I’m delighted to report that the Dwight Foster Public Library received a check in the amount of $150,000 for our building project from the Fort Community Credit Union several days ago.  (I rushed to deposit it before the ink was dry!)  The Daily Union was there to report the story.  You can read all about it online at the Daily Union’s web site.

That gives a big boost to our library’s Foster Growth capital campaign in terms of reaching our goal.  It secures naming rights for a community meeting room for the Fort Community Credit Union and allows us to continue to move forward with our plans to improve our library facility.

Thank you, thank you to the Fort Community Credit Union.  Your gift demonstrates your understanding of and commitment to the word “community.”   Your willingness to live your name will be appreciated by many people…for many years to come.


Act the way you want to feel

February 16, 2009

I am a fan of Gretchen Rubin.  She is spending a year working on something she calls the Happiness Project, which will hit the shelves in the form of a book at the end of 2009.  She’s been spending her time test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study she can find on the topic of happiness.  She’s reporting along the way in her daily blog.

She has very interesting blog posts and the one from October 15, 2008 really caught my attention.   She talks about the importance of doing something for someone else…which has a dual purpose.  It helps YOU and it helps the other person/entity.

In the post she talks about the importance of donating money, even if you feeling poor when you look at the latest report on your 401K.   She reminds us that many people don’t have a 401K.  Part of happiness is recognizing that you probably have a great deal to be grateful for.  If you can’t give money, you can donate books to libraries, she advises.  (Hey, I’m all for that!)   Or give blood.  An action that gives life to another.   No pricetag on that gift.

According to Gretchen:

“So act the way you want to feel. Acting with generosity, with gratitude, with compassion, will change your perception of your own situation. And it will improve the lives of others.”

In the not-too-distant future and we’ll be going to the community with our library’s capital campaign.  We’d love to be able to Foster Growth…and happiness…all around.  Such a wonderful and unique opportunity to give a gift that means something important today that will also last beyond any of our own lifetimes.  Happiness…for you right now as a result of giving…and for countless others, some of whom you will never know, but for whom a strong library will help to create a happy life.  (More about that in another post.)

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