Kenai library fundraiser surpasses $15k before ending

The fundraiser was launched in response to a move by the Kenai City Council to delay approval of a library grant.

A community-led fundraiser that has raised almost $14,000 in donations for the Kenai Community Library ended on Nov. 3, fundraiser organizers shared in an update.

The fundraiser was launched after the Kenai City Council postponed the acceptance of a grant the library received, pending approval of materials to be purchased by council members. The grant, in the amount of $1,500, was awarded by Region 5 of the Network of the National Library of Medicine and would have been used for the purchase of titles related to health and wellness.

The fundraiser had an initial goal of raising $1,500 to match the grant amount, but it hit that figure within three hours of the page going live. It hit its subsequent goal of $5,000 not long after.

The GoFundMe, launched by Kenai Peninsula residents Sovala Kisena and Todd Smith, had raised $13,945 as of Saturday afternoon from more than 150 donors that included Kenai City Council members, municipal employees from around the central peninsula, and local businesses like Already Read and Everything Bagels.

“We’re astonished by the outpouring of support which has exceeded our expectations both in funding and in participation,” Kisena wrote. “Because of this, we’ve decided to continue the fundraiser through November 3rd in the hope it will allow others to contribute if they haven’t had the opportunity.”

Multiple people left comments with their donations, many of which were for hundreds of dollars, that ranged from condemnations of censorship to support for the library’s presence.

“Libraries are a pivotal piece of our society supporting access to information for all,” wrote Andrew Banas. “The importance of this topic is evident in the outpouring of support from our community and this makes me proud.”

“I donated in honor of my grandparents, who always taught us to think for ourselves,” wrote Annie LaRue. “Thank you Kenai Library for remaining free and open to all.”

According to the GoFundMe, all donations will be given to the Friends of the Kenai Community Library, who will then donate the funds to the library. That transaction requires approval by the city council.

The Nov. 3 conclusion will coincide with the Kenai City Council’s next meeting.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at