Learning together (Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation photo)

Santa Barbara, celebrated for its cultural vibrancy and dedicated stance on social and environmental causes, boasts a diverse array of nonprofit organizations.

From educational initiatives that empower local youth to thriving arts and cultural institutions preserving the city’s heritage, and healthcare organizations ensuring the well-being of its residents – the nonprofit landscape in Santa Barbara reflects a robust commitment to a wide range of community needs.

Giving back during the holiday season aligns with the core themes of the season, including kindness, compassion, and community. It not only addresses immediate needs but also contributes to a broader sense of social responsibility and interconnectedness.

Join Noozhawk on #GivingTuesday and end the year by giving back to one or several of your favorite organizations listed in our Giving Guide!

Our Good for Santa Barbara Nonprofit Section provides all the resources you need to donate this holiday season!

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Lauren Trujillo, Foundation Director at Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to supporting the long-term health and sustainability of the Santa Barbara Public Library.

Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation

Question: What is the name and mission of your nonprofit?

Answer: The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation supports the long-term health and sustainability of the Santa Barbara Public Library through public-private partnerships.

Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service, and who are its founders?

A: The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation (SBPLF) was founded in 2012 as an independent non-profit funding organization to serve the Santa Barbara Public Library.

The Foundation raised over $4.6 million for its first project, to support the construction of the new Children’s Library at the Central Library and to create an accompanying $2 million endowment.

The Foundation’s success was made possible in part by the early support of the Junior League of Santa Barbara, founding Board members, and efforts of a stellar Children’s Library Campaign Committee comprised of co-chairs Janet Garufis, Jim Jackson, and committee members Scott Brittingham, Christie Glanville, and Elizabeth Slaught.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: This mission of the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation follows the successful Children’s Library Capital Campaign which raised over $4.6 million to create a new Children’s Library at the Central Library and an accompanying $2 million endowment.

The Children’s Library opened in September 2015 and the Children’s Library has allowed community education to be expanded to enrich the lives of thousands of children in our community each year with literacy and STEAM learning at the Library and throughout Santa Barbara schools.

The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation has since been able to: fund SBPL Delivers a book mailing program delivering thousands of books to patrons during the 2020 pandemic, facilitate a Women’s Fund Grant and additional funding for the Library on the Go Van, help expand SB Reads through fiscal sponsorship, raise $5 million for the new Michael Towbes Library Plaza, and an addtional $1 million Plaza Endowment.

In 2023, the Foundation successfully mobilized the community to advocate for $686,000 from the City’s reserves to restore operating hours for the next two years at our Central Library and Eastside Branch. This was a big win for our Library and the entire community and demonstrated our ability to help maintain our public-private partnership.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: The City of Santa Barbara is the main funding arm of the Santa Barbara Public Library. However, on average, each year 15% of all funding to support Santa Barbara Public Library comes from private dollars and grants.

In fact, the majority of Library programming is grant funded and at risk of long-term support. The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation funds large capital projects that are not included in the annual operating budget and can provide support to supplement grant-funded programs.

Without the public-private partnership in funding made possible by the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation, the Public Library would be limited in its scope and our entire community would lack the critical infrastructure that provides educational, technological, and cultural resources that everyone can access free of charge.

Tutor (Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation photo)

Libraries are more crucial than ever in the digital age, providing real connections, education and resources as people are more isolated in inhabiting the virtual world. Libraries are more than books – they also provide digital resources, access to information, and educational services.

Libraries have become the “third place” and an active community center. Now is the time to support your Santa Barbara Public Library and Open Doors with the Santa Barbra Public Library Foundation to new possibilities.

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize its funding?

A: The Santa Barbara Public Library depends on private donors to sustain and grow its infrastructure and programming. Just as our local public schools rely on parents to bring in STEAM programs, hire art teachers, and expand their capacity, the Santa Barbara Public Library must have the support of generous community donors whose contributions supplement the civic budget and allow our librarians to develop spaces and programs that benefit our entire community.

You can make a lasting difference to the character of downtown Santa Barbara, to the benefit of Library patrons, local businesses, tourism, and the community at large. Public libraries are the backbone of democracy and one of the last public spaces where all are welcome, all are equal, and all can learn—free of charge.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit run?

A: We are thrilled to share our recent success in raising $5 million for the construction of the new Michael Towbes Library Plaza with the support of the community. Library Plaza will be a beautiful and integral part of Santa Barbara’s Cultural Arts District providing programs and events that make the Library and downtown come to life beyond an attractive outdoor space.

How can you help empower your Library and make Santa Barbara a better place?

1. Capital Projects: Your contributions help reimagine and revitalize Library spaces like the Children’s Library and Michael Towbes Library Plaza to improve access for all. We have achieved major improvements together, and more are on the horizon with plans for a new Teen Library, Second Floor Patio, and an Eastside exterior remodel.

2. Advocacy: Your private support serves as powerful leverage to advocate for public funding and policies that impact the Library. This year, the Library Foundation helped restore staff positions to reopen the Library seven days a week.

3. Innovation: You reinforce the Library as a hub for lifelong learning through support for expanded Library on the Go outreach, Family Literacy Services, and SB Reads programming for all ages.

We invite you to be a champion for Libraries and ensure a healthy and thriving Santa Barbara Public Library for generations to come

Q: Describe your organizations staffing models and internal operations. Has anything changed since the start of your nonprofit?

A: Our Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation is made up of a volunteer board of directors, an emeritus board, an advisory board, a Foundation Director and a part-time staff member.

The Foundation Director coordinates the fundraising goals, mission, and strategic plan by securing capital resources, and managing the development plan, special events, communications, board support, and finances. The Board of Directors is a diverse group of active community members who are passionate about supporting the growth of our local community by strengthening our public libraries.

Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?

A: If you are interested in supporting Foundation fundraising efforts with your time, treasure, or talent please call 805.689.2448 or sign up here.

The Santa Barbara Public Library is also recruiting tutors. Visit our website to learn more.

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: The Santa Barbara Public Library is a critical community resource in Santa Barbara. The Library circulates over 1 million books each year, but that activity goes beyond books: community members visit Central Library over 600,000 times each year seeking modern resources from digital books to career resources and civic forums to language classes and citizenship classes to robotics and drone programming.

The Library is the place where anyone can access educational experiences and resources. Jessica Cadiente, Library Director, and her staff are working to transform the Santa Barbara Public Library from a good Library to a great Library at the heart of Santa Barbara.

At a time when censorship demands are on the rise, young students are struggling to read, and many of us feel more disconnected and divided, we feel hopeful to see what access to information and opportunity does for our community.

Q: What is one best kept secret or fun fact about your nonprofit that not everyone knows?

A: The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation works to elevate the Santa Barbara Public Library and share the new and exciting programs they offer our community, like the Library on the Go!

The Santa Barbara Public Library is bringing the Library to you! The new Library on the Go outreach van provides Library services and programs to neighborhoods in Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Summerland.

Family literacy program reading to dogs (Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation photo)

This Library can provide a number of Library services from our outdoor Library space such as:

-Materials check out
-Free public Wi-Fi
-Laptop computer use at select stops
-Document printing at select stops
-Library card registration
-Events for various ages at select stops
-Assistance with Library accounts, use of the Library catalog, and placing requests

Check the Library Event Calendar to find out when the Library on the Go Van will visit a location near you!

Q: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

A: Just a few of the lives that your Library has changed this year include:

A patron experiencing homelessness reapplying for CalFresh and Medi-Cal benefits was able to receive guidance with the entire process, ensuring the application was submitted correctly. Later that month, the patron shared that they had been approved for both programs and would have access to food and healthcare.

An elderly woman patron who only speaks Spanish was assisted by Library Staff once a week for several months. The tremendous effort and work ultimately paid off and the Library celebrated when she became a U.S. Citizen.

The parent of a reluctant reader shared, “He enjoyed the Reading to a Dog program so much that he wants to keep doing it! He practices his reading and loves being next to his trusted friend Smith (the dog).”

Q: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?

A: Currently, the Foundation reaches out to the community via Newsletters, mailers, and social media. While these outlets are sufficient, our reach is limited to our viewership or those who are already engaged with the Santa Barbara Public Library or the Library Foundation.

Q: Why should donors trust your organization and are there other ways to help outside of donations?

A: “A free public library is a revolutionary notion, and when people don’t have free access to books, then communities are like radios without batteries. You cut people off from essential sources of information — mythical, practical, linguistic, political — and you break them. You render them helpless in the face of political oppression.” Anne Lamott

Including Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation in your estate planning provides gifts that are an indispensable source of support for empowering the exceptional difference that the Library, Foundation, and you make possible. These can include bequests in wills and trusts, or designating the Library Foundation in your retirement and life insurance plans.

If you donate securities or similar assets that you have owned for more than one year, you are entitled to a charitable income tax deduction based on their current value. You also avoid the capital gains tax that you could have paid if you sold the stock.

Registered securities, together with a gift letter, should be sent unassigned to our office. Stock powers or bond powers, endorsed with a signature guaranteed by a bank or broker, should be forwarded under separate cover. Of, if you choose, you may simply ask your broker to contact our office for easy transfer instructions. For stock transfers, please contact us at 805- 689-2448 or info@SBLibraryFoundation.org.

Make a gift of real estate during your lifetime, and enjoy immediate and significant tax benefits while continuing to live in your home for life. Send a deed, naming “Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation” as the owner of the property, by registered mail to our office.

Gifts from your IRA are a smart way to support the Santa Barbara Public Library and may have significant additional tax benefits depending on current legislation.

Through a charitable lead trust, you enable the Santa Barbara Public Library to access a trust which contributes yearly, up to 20 years. Your family receives the trust remainder at substantial tax savings. Contact our office for assistance in the establishment of a tax-saving charitable remainder trust that will pay you or a beneficiary income for life.

You can ensure a sustainable future for the Santa Barbara Public Library by including us in your estate plans.
“I bequeath $___ or ___% of my estate to the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation, 40 E Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.”

Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal that your nonprofit has for the next year?

A: Short-term goal- Open the new Michael Towbes Library Plaza community space for innovative 21st-Century Library programming and community building.

Long-term goal- Continue to educate the community about the critical services our Santa Barbara Public Library provides learners of all ages.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your nonprofit that has not been mentioned above?

A: We are thankful to all of our Michael Towbes Library Plaza donors and invite you to see our extraordinary list of supporters on our website. Thank you for making the Library Plaza and our public-private partnership possible.

Thank you also to all the Santa Barbara Public Library advocates that helped to restore the Library budget and re-open the Library seven days a week! We hope to see you at the Library!

Click here to support the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation’s mission to raise funds for the critically needed projects at our Central library. 

Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a full list of nonprofits to donate to this giving season.

If you would like to include your nonprofit in our Good for Santa Barbara section and Giving Guide click HERE.