Organization aims to bolster Daly City's libraries 

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Modern communities are fragmented, and public libraries can help stitch them back together, says Susan Brissenden-Smith, the executive director of a fairly new nonprofit organization set up to support Daly City's four library branches.

Brissenden-Smith said the Daly City Public Library Associates, a 2-year-old organization, was created in order to fill a void left when the Friends of the Daly City Library disbanded.

She said the previous organization's numbers had dwindled as its membership got older. The group had raised about $4,000 to $5,000 per year, mostly from private donations, she said.

Brissenden-Smith said one of the new organization's goals is to obtain foundation grants.

She pointed to the San Mateo Public Library Foundation as an example of a success she'd like to emulate. She said that organization had raised millions of dollars for San Mateo's new library.

Daly City's library is about a lot more than lending books, Brissenden-Smith said.

For example, the John Daly branch will soon play host to Jefferson High School science teacher Joel Bruxvoort, who runs the school's robotics club. He will use the branch as a location to teach kids how robots are built and programmed.

Another program Brissenden-Smith is excited about is Discover & Go., which allows library cardholders to go online and print out free passes to numerous museums and learning destinations. The users can gain access to the Aquarium of the Bay, the Asian Art Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the Oakland Zoo, the Tech Museum of Innovation and more.

To help raise funds, the organization has several fundraisers, including a book sale at the Westlake Shopping Center that runs through today.

There is also the "Dine for a Difference," on Oct. 23 at Joe's of Westlake, Moonstar, the Burma Cafe and Buffalo Wild Wings in Serramonte.

The group is also planning to take part in the national "Make a Difference Day" on Oct. 26. Brissenden-Smith said this year, her organization is hoping to get a group of people to spend part of that day picking up trash around the library branches.

Department of Library and Recreation Services Director Joseph Curran described the membership list of the Daly City Public Library Associates as a "who's who" of the city's movers and shakers, and he said the organization has been a big help during these tough economic times.

Curran cited the purchase of laptops for the library's mobile computer lab as one of the things made possible by the group's fundraising efforts.

"Our budget is tighter than it's ever been," Curran said. "We appreciate that we can go to them with our suggestions."

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