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 public libraries. By 2005, the accomplished group had successfully applied for a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. The Foundation was given three years to confirm a nonfederal match of $1,500,000; the stalwarts celebrated the deadline with two days to spare.

In 2019, The Durham Library Foundation sustains its founding vision of excellence by raising money and managing investments, ensuring our libraries remain relevant and vibrant.  Annual giving and investment income fund innovative programs and augment 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, Summer Reading, technology improvements, and enhancements to permanent and circulating collections.  The Durham Library Foundation affirms the Durham County Library’s vision of Inspiring Lives, Transforming Durham.

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



Ann Craver

Vice President

Norma Martin


Leta Loyd


Alice Alexander


Jennings Brody
G. Rhodes Craver
Leslie Dillon
Lew Myers
Sylvianne Roberge
Arthur Rogers
Elizabeth Townsend

Board of trustees

Sandra Chambers

Friends Representative

Elizabeth Hein

Library Director

Tammy Baggett

Library Development Officer

Sara Stephens

Durham Library Foundation Executive Director

Karen Wells

Durham Library Foundation Administrator

Jana Bradley


Staff of Durham Library Foundation are available to answer your questions at 919-864-8047, or email 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 (919-864-8047 or 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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