About three years ago, the Murrieta Public Library opened an $11 million, 25,000-square-foot, library on Adams Avenue.
To Loretta McKinney, director of library services, the new building has been a smash hit.
It attracts about 1,200 people a day, she said. Circulation of materials jumped from 442,781 in 2008 to 503,974 in 2009. And the shelves have 75,000 volumes, up from 35,000 at the old site.
But library officials, hurt by the economic downturn, hope to accomplish more.
In 2009, the Murrieta Public Library Foundation received tax-exempt status and in March hosted its first event at the library.
"We have a new library, but you need to provide services to that library, you have to have a staff, you have to have services and supplies," said foundation President Juanita Blankenship, who added the goal is "a continuous stream of funding to augment library programs."
One priority for McKinney, who also serves on the foundation
board, are residents of eastern Murrieta. She dreams of a possible branch, or at the least, a bookmobile for that community.
The nonprofit Friends of the Murrieta Public Library already helps support the library's collection. But the all-volunteer group, which runs a pair of bookstores, can't support big-ticket items. These include a $50,000 needs assessment and technologies that would allow for more efficient cataloging and operations.
The library's budget took a mid-year adjustment in 2009-10 from $2.4 million to $1.9 million. Though the 2010-11 budget isn't complete, funding will probably decrease further, McKinney said. Once fully staffed, the library now has vacant positions. But foundation money can't be used for hiring.
Through a few donations and pledges, the foundation has raised nearly $20,000 so far, Blankenship said. When the foundation was conceived several years ago, the fundraising target for the first full fiscal year was about $100,000.
"We couldn't be introducing the foundation in a much worse economic time," Blankenship said. "Fundraising now for everybody is difficult, even for well-established charities."