Fayetteville Public Library officials to announce ‘major gift’

Fayetteville Public Library expansion rendering / Courtesy image

The $23 million capital campaign to expand the Fayetteville Public Library is expected to get a big boost this month.

Library officials recently announced plans for an event to unveil a “major gift” toward the campaign, set for 10 a.m. on Monday, March 25 on the south side main level of the library.

The gift is coming from benefactor Jim Blair, an attorney who gave $3 million two decades ago to help establish the current library facility.

The specific amount of the latest gift from Blair will be announced at the March 25 event.

Blair announced his plans to make the gift toward the expansion during the groundbreaking ceremony held earlier this month.

“I am talking to my accountant and my banker and my investment advisors, and I’m looking in my piggy bank, and I’m going to announce a major gift probably in the next 30 days,” he said. “I will scrape together whatever I can scrape together. It hurt the last time I did it, but I think it’s going to hurt worse this time.”

Blair’s lead gift helped establish the existing library which opened in October 2004. The library is named in honor of Blair’s late wife, Diane Divers Blair; his grandmother, Bessie Motley Blair; and his aunt, Dr. Mary Grace Blair.

“Jim Blair’s generosity to this library and to this community knows no bounds,” said David Johnson, the library’s executive director. “His latest gift is certain to inspire private support that is vital to the success of our $23 million capital campaign.”

The expansion will add 82,500+ square feet of space to the facility, including several amenities. Among them, the project will double the size of the youth services area, add an audio/video recording studio, virtual reality room, photography studio, a simulation lab, a 700 seat multipurpose center, an outdoor courtyard, meeting and collaboration space, and more.

Fayetteville voters in 2016 approved a millage increase to help fund the project. The measure passed 59 percent to 41 percent. The library’s 1-mill property tax was then increased to 3.7 mills. 1.2 mills was allocated for construction bonds and 1.5 mills will be used for operating costs. Once the construction bonds are paid off, the tax will be lowered to 2.5 mills.

The millage increase will provide about $26.5 million for the expansion. Blair’s gift would go toward the additional $22.8 million officials hope to raise to complete the project.

The announcement event is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

For more information about the expansion, visit beyondwordsfpl.org.