By David Sproat, M.D.
Thanks to many generous donors, the Duluth Library Foundation endowment, started with Olga Walker’s bequest in 1990, has grown to just over $1.5 million. This endowment, with ongoing annual contributions to the library, has allowed the Foundation to continue funding programming in the library and its branches not supported by the city’s operating budget. In addition, we contributed furnishings to the Mt. Royal addition in 2016 and will do so for the main library’s Youth Services area in 2018.
We continue to celebrate authors, one of the life sources of a vigorous library, inviting several to participate in the annual fundraising event “Learning & Libations at the Library.” In 2017, in support of the Foundation, thriller writer Brian Freeman donated naming rights for two Duluth individuals, whose names now appear as characters in his latest book, Alter Ego. The characters were “revealed” by the author at a pre-publication party at Glensheen in April 2018.
In the longer term, our most challenging task as a Foundation is to advocate for the library in support of achieving goals set forth in the library’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020. The primary goal is school readiness: to prioritize early literacy services and resources to increase the school readiness of Duluth’s preschool children. The four other goals are to strengthen the library’s physical capacity to fulfill its mission, to shift the library’s service model to increase opportunities for staff to teach and inspire users, to enhance current library services to better serve community needs, and to raise public awareness of the library in order to increase use of the range of library services. Strategies are in place, but progress to date has been hampered by city budget funding shortfalls. Our advocacy work is done in conjunction with Library Manager Carla Powers, the Library Board, and the Friends of the Duluth Public Library.
Many thanks to you, our donors, in supporting our efforts to maintain this source of civic pride and opportunity for all, the Duluth Public Library.