The Foundation organized in 1995 when the original 1930 Burlingame Public Library building needed replacement. The City Council approved a revival of the 1930‘s design and provided funding of $13 million. However, private funding would be necessary to furnish the building and provide state-of-the-art services.
A tradition of community library support already existed. Local attorney and trustee Bill Nagle of the Roger and Jean Hunt Duncan Trust had arranged for a gift of real estate in the 1980's. This gift of property adjacent to the library allowed the library to expand some 15 years later.
Burlingame residents Joan and Ralph Lane kicked off the campaign “Something New is Building” with a gift of $100,000. Their generous gift helped the Foundation raise the necessary $200,000 to complete the work on the main library in 1997. With the help of the Foundation, the Library was the cover feature in American Libraries magazine in 1998.
In 2000, the Easton Branch Library in North Burlingame needed renovation. The Thomas Z. Marshall family provided a generous gift of $650,000. The Foundation raised another $230,000 to complete the project, preserving and enhancing the 1929 Pueblo style building.
In 2012, a $3.5 million modernization plan to renovate and renew the historic Burlingame Public Library began. The City of Burlingame funded $2.5 million of the campaign and it challenged the Burlingame Library Foundation to raise the remaining $1 million. Thanks to the outpouring of generosity from the Burlingame and Hillsborough communities, the "Our Library, Our Future" campaign met its $1 million dollar goal in July 2015.
The Foundation continues to provide annual support as well as one time gifts for capital projects. The Burlingame Library Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit corporation registered with the State of California #94-3220365.