Private donations make up the largest share of the collections budget for the Library—in some years, as high as 40%.
The quality of Cary Memorial Library’s collection is dependent on the generous gifts of charitable donors. Although the Library receives significant support from municipal sources and state grants, public funds account for only 30% of the annual budget for books and other materials. Fines and fees and income from the Library’s endowment make up another 30% of the collections budget. This budget modestly meets the needs of maintaining and expanding the collections, and is necessary for the Library to meet state certification requirements and qualify for the maximum amount in State Aid .
Citizen input into the Library’s ongoing strategic planning process has revealed keen community demand for more Library programs. Programming beyond the Children’s Department represents a new direction for our Library, one which the Library has been increasingly responsive to in the form of Lexington Reads, National Library Week, the Teen Advisory Board, and other initiatives. Librarians are developing a plan to provide more programs, especially programs that will involve partnering with other community groups and organizations.
The Library’s ability to meet community demand for expanded programming for people of all ages and interests depends largely on financial considerations. There is no municipal funding available for Library programming. The scope and ambition of Library programming relies heavily on private donations raised by the Foundation.
The Library’s endowment can provide only limited support for the Library’s collections and programs. The Library’s Board of Trustees has a goal of building the endowment to $3 to $4 million. Part of the Foundation’s efforts goes toward supporting this goal.
Questions & Answers
Why does the Library need an Annual Fund? Don't my taxes support the Library?
Yes and no. Only a portion of the Adult Collection and Audiovisual Collection is supported by public dollars. The purchase of periodicals is largely supported by charitable contributions, and adult library programs do not receive any municipal support.
But I hear the Library has an endowment. Doesn't that fill the gaps?
The current endowment provides limited resources. One goal of the Cary Memorial Library Foundation is to build the endowment.
What about community programs?
The Library offers programs for children and adults throughout the year, and would like to provide more in response to ongoing community requests. It all takes money beyond what tax dollars cover.
Why is my charitable contribution important?
Your charitable contribution is more than important. It is essential. Here’s why:
- While the Library is largely supported by tax dollars, most of the budget goes toward salaries and operating costs—not collections and programs. Charitable contributions make up some 40% of the annual budget for books and other materials. There is no other source for that portion of the collections budget.
- Lexington is a small town. But, from our heavy library usage, you’d think we were a small city. To serve Lexington adequately, our Library needs additional funds—funds from charitable contributions.
- To maintain the state certification  that entitles our community to the benefits of the Minuteman Library Network, and to be eligible for State Aid, our Library must spend a certain percentage of its total budget on books and materials. The Library depends on private donations to meet these state requirements.
Quite simply, your contribution is what makes it possible for Lexington to have an excellent library.