Event in the community room at the Galesburg Public Library
Donors gather at an event in the Community Room at the new Galesburg Public Library. Photo by Steve Davis, courtesy of the Galesburg Public Library Foundation.

Connecting the Community: Grant supports multi-purpose Community Room

Wedding receptions, birthdays, celebrations of life, meetings, book clubs—the Community Room at the Galesburg Public Library is already seeing a lot of use in the few short weeks the new library has been open.

“Our mission is to be a center of information and one of the ways that people get information and share information is through other people, whether that’s by celebrating cultural milestones, exchanging ideas, or holding public discourse,” said Galesburg Public Library Director Noelle Thompson. “The Community Room is a place where people can give and share information, either face-to-face or virtually.”

Galesburg Community Foundation worked with the Galesburg Public Library Foundation to make the Community Room at the new 68,000-square-foot library at the corner of Academy and Main Streets a reality by offering a 2:1 match grant challenge as an incentive for individual donors to give to the campaign. For every $2 donated, the Community Foundation matched an additional $1 up to $350,000.

 “We wanted to give the library a tool that would allow them to connect with members of the community,” said Joshua Gibb, President and CEO of Galesburg Community Foundation. “We also wanted to give members of the community a chance to see what can happen when they give together. The Community Room was our chance to do both.”

By the end of the campaign, more than $700,000 had been donated through the challenge, unlocking the Foundation match and resulting in a total gift of more than $1,050,000 that was used by the Galesburg Public Library Foundation to build out the library’s Community Room.

“I don’t know if we would have been able to complete this project without the Community Foundation’s involvement, not just because of the match, but because of the way they fired up the community to get involved,” said Thompson. “The library belongs to this community and was built by them, and we couldn’t have succeeded without the community’s investment and involvement in the process.”

The room comes equipped with a projector and screen, audio system with ceiling speakers, assisted listening device, two podiums, a mobile white board, and tables and chairs to accommodate 360 sitting or 500 standing. “It’s a gathering space meant to be as flexible and versatile as possible,” said Thompson. There’s even a serving kitchen with a large commercial refrigerator, microwave, and a limited supply of utensils and kitchenware. To be able to reach as many people as possible, the space is also available outside of library hours in the evenings and on weekends, as well as while the library is operating.

“The Community Foundation’s encouragement of community involvement was a catalyst for widespread support and enthusiasm for this project,” said Heather Sipes, Galesburg Public Library Foundation Executive Director. “We are excited about the future and the impact the new Community Room will have.”

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Haley Sloss

Charitable Giving Coordinator

Short Bio

Haley provides support to enhance the function and success of the Charitable Giving and Affiliate Teams. She ensures donors receive a personal approach to philanthropy through outstanding customer service by supporting charitable giving for donors and fund holders across the state.