KENSINGTON, MD – April 29, 2010 - The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation has again stepped up to the plate to keep the 118-year-old Noyes Library open to the public.
The children’s-only library, located in historic Kensington, was scheduled for closure under Montgomery County’s FY’11 Budget, to save operating costs and plan for eventual changes. The Foundation, founded in 1991 to keep the Library open during another budget crisis, responded to the community outcry by taking a proposal to the Department of Libraries.
Under the plan, the Foundation will provide all the funds that the Montgomery County Public Libraries would have saved by closing the library, approximately $70,000 per year. Private funds will be raised through direct gifts, grants, and special events such as auctions.
The proposed plan has earned the support of MCPL and the county’s Friends of the Library. The Montgomery County Council, which would need to approve the plan prior to the final FY ’11 budget vote, has not yet indicated its support.
The arrangements would be the same as those that funded the library from 1991 until 1999, with the Foundation acting as a granting agency. “The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation was created at the instigation of the County Council in 1991,” said Jan Jablonski, a Bethesda resident and member of the Foundation’s original board of directors. “The County Council at that time, recognizing the closing of Noyes as a loss of a unique county asset, asked Noyes users whether we would be willing to form a charitable organization to raise the funds needed to keep Noyes open during the budget crisis. The Foundation raised more than $300,000 in the ‘90’s, and we are ready to do it again.”
A community meeting held by the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation in Kensington in April attracted Noyes supporters from throughout the county who confirmed the Noyes community is ready to commit the time and resources to save the library. Many pointed out the appeal of Noyes as a safe haven for young children and their families, as well the value of a small-scale, welcoming space for families with children with special needs.
“I am a child of the Noyes Library and I want to continue to see other children have the wonderful opportunities that I did because they can grow up going to Noyes,” said Sara Jaffe, 26, of Kensington, “I’ll do anything I can to help.” “I love the books, I love the trains, and I love the toys. We go a lot,” declared four-year old Bryce Harrington, of Silver Spring. Says first grader Grace Thomas of Kensington, “The librarians remember me and always help me pick just the right book.”
“It is a magical place where children can go and just be kids while developing a love of reading,” adds Jablonski’s son Peter, a former Noyes user who is now a 9th grader at Churchill High School.
The Noyes Children’s Library captured national attention in the 1990s, when some three dozen celebrities, including Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Jackson, and Bette Midler, donated signed copies of their favorite children’s books for a gala auction held at Strathmore Mansion in 1991. The Noyes Library was also featured on Good Morning America, Fox Morning News, and in a cover article and feature story in Parenting Magazine. It was the subject of an Encyclopedia Britannica film on the importance of libraries.
The Noyes Children’s Library Foundation was recognized in 1993 for extraordinary service to the community when it was designated a Point of Light by the national Points of Light Foundation. In addition to funding the historic library, Foundation volunteers helped MCPL fill a gap in services to children by performing Penny Theater children’s programs to thousands of children in libraries, schools, and shelters spanning the county—a service it continues to make available.
“Reactivating the public-private partnership is a win-win for Montgomery County,” says Foundation board member Diana Ditto. “The Washington area’s oldest public library will stay open. Its services and unique setting will be free and available to every young child in Montgomery County. Sure, it will be a lot of work to raise the money. But we’ve done it before, we know we can do it, and we also know it will be a lot of fun.”