County library looks to website to help launch capital campaign

The Thompson-Hickman Library in Virginia City is looking to kick start its fundraising efforts for a library expansion, which will also include historical archives for the vast collection of historical documents stored in various places around Virginia City.

The fundraising effort has been going on for more than a year, but recently Sam Korsmoe, executive director at the Madison County Economic Development Council, decided to take a different tact.

He enlisted the help of the website www.kickstarter.com to help launch a small fundraising effort that will help pay for a series of informational videos about the importance of the library expansion and historical archives.

Kickstarter is a website designed to help organizations raise money through lots of small donations. The idea is to post information about your fundraising effort on the website and then put a deadline on when the money needs to be raised by. If you make target by the deadline, you get the money. If you don’t, then you don’t receive any money.

“It’s designed to collect lots and lots of small donations, they ad up, then you take the money and do something tremendous with it,” Korsmoe said.

His goal with this initial campaign is to raise $5,000 and then take that money and make a series of short videos outlining the need for the library expansion and the importance of the archives to the history of Virginia City and Montana.

“This is a state issue, it’s not a Madison County issue, it’s a state issue and we really want to beat the drum on that aspect,” he said.

Virginia City served as Montana’s territorial capital prior to it becoming a state in 1889. It was also home to some of the most profitable mining claims in the state. The first miners showed up in the early 1860s.

Historical documents from that time period still exist in Virginia City, but they’re stored in a variety of places and remain uncatalogued and inadequately protected. The historical archives portion of the library expansion would solve that problem, Korsmoe said.

“If we don’t act, that chunk of history is gone,” he said. “We want to get that message out to all of Montana.”

The videos will tell the story of Virginia City’s historical importance and need for historical archives to people around the state.

Along with the historical archives, which will be called the Pace Archives after the late Virginia City historian Dick Pace, the library expansion is needed to better serve library patrons from around the county, Korsmoe said.

“It serves all the functions of a normal library,” he said. “But the Thompson-Hickman Library is different. It does all those things plus it has this additional mission of saving Montana’s history through this archive room.”

The expansion project will cost about $650,000 and the design and engineering portion of the project is complete, he said.

The library has a commitment of $125,000 in matching funds from one donor, but the matching funds need to be found by the end of this year, he said. That makes the capital campaign efforts very timely.

Korsmoe launched the kickstarter effort two weeks ago and so far has received commitments of support from 10 different people totaling $340.

To see the video or commit funding to the project, visit the website.

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