The foundation raising money for the Astoria Library has received $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities toward the building’s renovation.
The grant requires the foundation to raise at least $1.5 million in local matches over the next five years. But the award is a shot in the arm for the foundation, which since 2014 has raised about $100,000 after expenses, along with another $80,000 in pledges, toward a renovation estimated to cost nearly $7 million.
The renovation would modernize the building on 10th Street with larger windows and spaces for meetings, reading, teens and families. It would open public access to the basement and include an expanded Flag Room for meetings, along with a training kitchen, gallery, media lab, collaboration and archival areas.
Arline LaMear, the foundation’s president and a former mayor, thanked consultant Ruth Metz for writing the grant and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici for voicing support.
“This grant gives us a much-needed boost in fundraising and will be a catalyst for further grants,” LaMear said. “Our needs assessment asked our citizens what they wanted from their library. With this grant, we are much closer to the goal of renovating our 52-year-old library and making it a source of pride for the whole community.”
The city has set aside $750,000 in carbon sequestration credits to support the renovation, along with $900,000 in a memorial fund from former Mayor W.C. Logan, who the renovated library will be named after. City councilors last year supported a full renovation, provided the library foundation could raise another $5 million.
David Oser, secretary and treasurer of the foundation, said the endowment has signaled the carbon sequestration could be counted toward the grant match.
The foundation recently called on the city to help fundraise for and finance the restoration, arguing it is unfair to lean on volunteers to do the work of professional fundraisers. Last month, city councilors agreed to explore a bond measure in 2021. They also supported potentially contracting with someone to help raise money in advance of a bond.
“This significant federal award toward the transformation of our 52-year-old library into a highly functional space is a huge step forward,” Mayor Bruce Jones said in a news release. “The federal investment in our community validates our plan to provide Astorians a state-of-the-art library that will meet the community’s needs for another 50 years.”