Foundation Support

Foundation support provides essential materials and services for programs like Summer Reading, which had almost 88,000 child and teen participants in 2011.Foundations provide essential general operating support that allows the Library to maintain core areas of service to the public, from providing books and other materials in neighborhood branches and research collections, to developing important digital technology, to presenting free public programs. General operating support allows the Library’s superb staff of curators, librarians, program staff, and educators to provide free resources, advice, and information to anyone and everyone who seeks it out.

Foundation support also helps fund special initiatives that improve the lives of countless New Yorkers. Grants for major new projects and special initiatives such as endowment, education-related activities, and collection development broaden access to information and help to secure a healthy financial future for the Library. 

To see your support at work, and find out more about our most pressing needs, please see our list of Greatest Needs:

Annual Fund and General Endowment

The Library is supported by a complex set of funding sources, some of the most important being private gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporate partners. Annual Fund and endowment gifts serve as “innovation” funding, which the Library uses to launch new projects, as well as provide for core needs and activities, which include acquiring and preserving library materials, offering digital technology and digitizing important items from the collections, presenting exhibitions and public programs, and providing access to collections and services through the maintenance of quality staff and state-of-the-art facilities. 

As expenses in these areas continue to grow, private gifts are more significant than ever. Gifts to the Annual Fund or for Operational Endowment allow the Library to maintain its unique services and collections and provide them to anyone who walks through the doors or enters online, free of charge for as many hours per week as possible. In addition, in this era of increasing technology, donor funds enable the Library to continue to serve as a major contributor to a national digital archive of research material. 

Branch Library Programming

Each year, the neighborhood branches present approximately 45,000 programs and classes that are attended by more than 660,000 patrons of all ages. Children's programs include arts and crafts, story hours, musical presentations, science programs, and others, and are designed to be educational and instill a love of reading and a desire to learn. Teens engage in local Teen Advisory Groups, create podcasts, participate in writing and other workshops, and attend theatrical presentations. Programs for adults provide an avenue for lifelong learning and enlightenment, through book discussion groups, classes for speakers of English as a second language, cultural programs, and more.

Branch programs are supported in large part by donations from individual donors, foundations, and corporate partners. A gift for this purpose would allow The Branch Libraries to continue to support the local community by presenting valued programs free of charge. Gifts of $5,000 or more are being accepted for support of these programs.


Public exhibitions, which are available to any Library visitor, free of charge, fulfill the Library's mission by providing access to rare and unique materials, curated to provide insight on a wide variety of topics inspired by the Library's vast holdings. It is only with the help of private donors that the Library is able to continue developing stimulating exhibitions. The Library engages younger visitors with these exhibitions by hosting workshops and presenting hands-on activities for K-12 teachers and students, helping them to connect the Library's primary source material to classroom curricula.