This story was written by Faith Maciolek of the student publication “Ithaca Week.”

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Tompkins County Public Library is 3 percent short of its goal entering its final year of a two-year fundraising campaign to add more technology. They hope to reimagine the space and make it a library fit for the 21st century.

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“The Campaign for a 21st Century Library: Books and Beyond in the Digital Age”, which was developed in early 2013 and was announced to the public in November 2014, has a final goal of $2.75 million. Susan Currie, director of the Tompkins County Public Library, said there has been an increased need and demand for new technology.

“In terms of libraries, Internet and electronic materials have been around the past 20 years, but there was a tipping point about four years ago as more devices have come out to deliver content,” Currie said.

One of the primary upgrades the library wants to add is a 21st century lab. Currie said the lab would include technology such as smart boards and a 3D printer . This would serve as a teaching lab for digital literacy.

“Many members of our community still do not have an email or know how to use one,” Currie said. “We would supply basic instructions for things like email and how to access the library’s resources, to more sophisticated things like how to create websites, manage digital photos and even making your own comic book.”

The lab would be Skype-friendly to allow visitors to do job interviews and other forms of video communication. It would also be a space for the library’s Wednesday program, which teaches English as a second language. The space would allow the students to use headphones and do work at their own pace.

Another main project the funding would support would be an improved teen center, which requires much more space in order to better accommodate the teenagers who visit. Teen Services librarian Regina DeMauro said there is currently not enough space for teens to work on group projects, read or just hang out.https://m.storyl.in/e/f8pzpwLyGz.mp4

“That’s kind of the main goal that we’re looking at, is to make teens feel like they have a home in the library,” DeMauro said.

The collections of the library, which currently include digital collections, devices to read them, and print collections, will also be upgraded. The library launched an online digital magazine source that is free and provides over 100 magazines that library members can access without personal subscriptions.

According to Suzanne Smith Jablonski, executive director of Tompkins County Public Library Foundation, there is a challenge grant from the Thaler/Howell Foundation, a longtime library backer, to help meet their fundraising goal. The “Matching Gift Challenge” began in August and will run until February, and the foundation will match every dollar raised by the library, up to $200,000.

In addition, the library will also run fundraising events such as their third annual READATHON running from noon on Sept. 25 to noon on Sept. 26.  It kicks off Freedom to Read Week, also known as National Banned Books Week. Forty-eight readers will participate and read in half hour intervals, and each will do their own crowdfunding to raise money for the library.

They continuously encourage the community to get involved in their fundraising.  According to Jablonski, three teenage girls that regularly visit the library hosted a bake sale on Sept. 19 during an annual coat sale by Mama Goose, a consignment shop in Ithaca. The girls sold drinks and snacks and raised nearly $100 for the campaign.

“We encourage these sorts of self–directed, fun community events, along with things that we do, so everyone has a part making the library the kind of library we want it to be.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.