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A Gift to the Community: Durham Library Foundation

Members of the Durham Library Foundation sit together on a bench.

The Durham Library Foundation (DLF) is on a mission to expand resources for all public libraries in Durham County. Importantly, the organization supports library facilities, services, and programs in order to develop and sustain a world-class library system. DLF provides annual grants, raises funds for capital projects, and ensures the libraries’ future through endowment funds.

Champions of literacy and beyond

In 2016 and 2017, The Forest at Duke awarded $5,500 to DLF each year to help boost collection development at Durham County Library. In 2018, The Forest made a grant of $5,000 to the foundation for large print books and e-audiobooks.

With The Forest’s support, the library has been able to purchase additional titles, thereby increasing the size of its collection. Additionally, grant money has enabled the library to order additional copies of titles, thus shortening the length of time customers must wait for materials.

Based on outcomes from the purchase of materials made with previously awarded funds, the additional monies allow a greater number of large print books and e-audiobooks to be added to the collection. To be sure, this increases options for library users who utilize these collections.

The ability to order additional copies of popular titles decreases wait times, getting large print books and e-audiobooks to customers more quickly. Indeed, Durham County Library continues to experience a significant increase in demand for large print books and e-audio.

DLF also funds a number of significant library programs. This includes Humanities programming, Summer Reading, Durham Reads Together, Library Youth Partners, the North Carolina Collection, and a special initiative, Go For Launch.

Humanities Programming

At Durham County Library, Humanities programs began with DLF. Today, they continue to bring wonderful authors, scholars, performers, and experts to the community because of the organization’s dedication and work. Humanities events held throughout Durham feature topics like music, local history, literature, culture, religion, and art.

Summer Reading

By far the most popular Durham County Library program, Summer Reading inspires thousands of children, teens, and adults each summer. For the program’s two-month run, participants keep track of their daily reading, earning prizes as they go. Summer Reading also features fun events and special celebrations. The foundation’s ongoing support of the program helps to ensure students’ school readiness for the next academic year.

Durham Reads Together

Durham Reads Together, observed in October, serves to strengthen the community through a biennial celebration of reading. This year’s book is Osha Gray Davidson’s The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South. Attend programs around the book’s themes to discuss important issues including race, family, identity, religion, faith, education, culture, and music. Importantly, all Durham Reads Together programs—including “A Conversation with Osha Gray Davidson”—are free and open to the public.

Library Youth Partners

Program participants in Library Youth Partners, teens in grades 9-12, serve as positive role models for younger students. As part of this innovative, ongoing training program, they also learn leadership and employment skills while providing Storytime reading for children in Durham.

North Carolina Collection

Funds from DLF help grow and support the library’s North Carolina Collection. Certainly, the funds also address ongoing fiscal challenges of storage and cataloging. The Collection is a primary resource for historical records of Durham city and county. Thus, it provides a wealth of materials to assist with researching North Carolina-related topics and includes online exhibits.

Go For Launch!

The Go For Launch initiative, designed for teens, builds teamwork, communication, and leadership. Using space exploration as a platform, the program launches student involvement in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Teams from Durham County Library locations compete against one another, creating designs of an experiment to be conducted in orbit. At the conclusion of Go For Launch, the winning team’s project is completed by an astronaut in a launch to the International Space Station!

As champions of literacy and steadfast supporters of Durham County Library, DLF gives so much to the Durham community. The Forest at Duke is more than pleased to support DLF’s continued efforts. Read on!

Lauren Young, Marketing Specialist (The Forest at Duke), with Sara Stephens, Development Officer (Durham County Library)

Header image: Durham Library Foundation leadership includes (left to right) Executive
Director Karen Wells, President Ann Craver, and Durham County Library Development Officer
Sara Stephens. (Photo courtesy of Sara Stephens)
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