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 often lacks funding for expanding programs and services.

The Foundation’s fundraising is about bringing the library to life. Specifically, it is about providing resources to creatively address the informational need of patrons, plan programming geared to wide-ranging ages and interests, and to meet ever-changing technological demands with up-to-date tools and guidance.

Foundation funds bridge the gap between the public support for the library and the real cost of achieving the library’s vision of inspiring lives and transforming Durham.


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. 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.


Can you share more about Durham County Library?

The first free, tax-supported library in North Carolina, the Durham County Library annually serves more than 2 million visitors in seven locations – and an additional 2 million visitors to the library website. It offers more than 5,000 virtual and in-person programs for children, teens, and adults.

At the height of Covid, library use skyrocketed, with almost 3.5 million items utilized through walk-in services and library take-out and online resources. (DLF funding shortens the wait times on materials that are in demand!)

Two-thirds of Durham County residents have a library card, and Durham Public School students can use their student ID as a library card. The library system is now fine free.


Can you offer some examples of how DLF improves the library experience for Durham County residents?

In the past four years, DLF has granted $541,202 for 37 library programs. An additional $1.2 million from DLF upgraded furniture and equipment for Main Library. We’re particularly proud of the fact that funding from DLF shortens the wait times on materials that are in demand! Every gift to DLF helps the library stay relevant, vibrant, and enjoyed by all. Learn more on our impact page.

To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.

Carlos María Domínguez
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