About Us

In 2000, a passionate group of citizens organized the Durham Library Foundation to develop and encourage the long-term financial health and growth of Durham County Libraries. By 2005, the volunteer organization received a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, which they successfully matched with $1,500,000 in private contributions.

Twenty-one years later, the Durham Library Foundation renews its founding vision of excellence by raising money and managing investments, all in support of Durham County Library.  Through a capital campaign and investments savings, the Durham Library Foundation provided $1,200,000 for Main Branch Renewal. Annual giving and investment income yearly fund innovative programs and expand traditional library services to patrons of all ages and stages of life. Endowment funds are the source of substantial and ongoing support for Humanities programming, the maintenance and development of the Willis P. and Leona Whichard North Carolina Collection, technology improvements, and enhancements to permanent and circulating collections.  The Durham Library Foundation shares the Durham County Library’s vision of Inspiring Lives, Transforming Durham. Join us as together we create world-class libraries for the free use and enrichment of all citizens.

The Durham Library Foundation is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors:



Ann Craver

Vice President

Norma Martin


Leta Loyd


Arthur Rogers


Jennings Brody
G. Rhodes Craver
Liz Gustafson
Kate Medley
Lew Myers
Desiree Palmer
Sylvianne Roberge
Nick Seligman
Elizabeth Townsend

Board of trustees

Sandra Chambers

Friends Representative

Angela Zoltners

Library Director

Tammy Baggett

Library Development Officer

Sara Stephens

Durham Library Foundation Executive Director

Karen Wells



Staff of Durham Library Foundation are available to answer your questions at dlf@durhamlibraryfoundation.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t Durham County citizens already support the library with their taxes and with the recent bond issues?

Durham County funding provides library facilities, library materials, services and staff. Yet, with usage of facilities and resources on the rise, the library is challenged to accomplish its mission while operating within a budget that does not provide funds for expanding programs and services.

The Foundation’s fundraising is about bringing the library to life. It is about filling the facilities with staff who have the resources to creatively address the informational needs of patrons, to plan programming geared to their wide-ranging ages and interests, and to meet their technological needs with up-to-date resources and advice.

Foundation funds bridge the gap between the public support for the library and the real cost of bringing our library system to life.


Can’t I just give money directly to the library?

Actually, the library faces many obstacles when it comes to raising funds:

As a department of government, the library cannot accumulate reserve funds.

Most foundations and corporations and many individuals will not make grants or gifts directly to a governmental institution.

Donations made directly to the library are difficult to manage because of the county’s stringent budgetary process.

Even if the library received donations, those funds would become subject to the county budgetary process. Ultimately, the library would still not have the flexibility of funding necessary to respond to emerging needs that were not identified prior to the county budget process, that were not funded through that process, or to special opportunities that arise after the budget year begins.


Doesn’t the Friends of the Durham Library organization already raise money to support the library?

Since 1968, the Friends of the Durham Library (Friends) organization has helped the Durham County Library with volunteer and financial assistance for programs, materials, and equipment beyond the means of limited tax dollars.

Around the time of the Durham County Library Centennial Celebration in 1997, however, ardent supporters of the library became concerned about the long-term financial health and growth of the library. In those early discussions, the Friends decided to maintain the group’s focus: organizing and conducting book sales to fund annual and short-term library needs.

Ultimately, the Friends and the Foundation complement one another perfectly in meeting both the current and long-term financial needs of the library.


What types of donations can the Foundation accept?

The Foundation accepts gifts of cash, securities, real estate and cash-value life insurance policies. The Executive Director Karen Wells (karen@durhamlibraryfoundation.org) is available to assist with donations of stocks, or to discuss establishing trusts or other planned giving opportunities.

The Foundation is also pleased to process corporate matching gift requests.

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