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Branch backers start fund drive

The Branch Love steering committee went to work Wednesday night crafting a game plan to raise funds to keep Evanston’s branch libraries open.. 

The Branch Love steering committee went to work Wednesday night crafting a game plan to raise funds to keep Evanston’s branch libraries open.. 

Emily Guthrie, Jeff Smith and John Polish were among those discussing legal issues the branch backers may face.

"We are exploring any and all options," said organizer Lori Keenan during the meeting at the Ecology Center. "We have no axe to grind. We’re not going to put a stake in the ground and say this is a library."

Under the leadership of a steering committee that includes attorneys, marketing specialists and branch employees; attendees broke out into themed groups to brainstorm solutions to meet the financial need. [Video]

Fundraising suggestions included holding galas, writing grant proposals, asking for pledges door-to-door and having children run lemonade stands.

The legal discussion included a possible strategy for a referendum, an independent library district and alternative services for the West Side.

Seeking to broaden their appeal, the branch backers say they now want to be known as Evanston Public Library Friends, and say any donations received would be for the library system as a whole, as a response to fears that the money would only support branches that may still close.

Keenan said e-mail pledges of support now total $27,000.

"Six months is going to come upon us immediately, we have to move with all deliberate speed," said steering committee member Michael Tannen.

Organizers say people can join the friends group for free through National Library Week, which ends April 17. After that they plan to charge $25 to join.

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