While some folks might have thought that the Dallas Public Library activities were in hibernation during the pandemic years with locations being on limited service, they didn’t realize there was plenty of work taking place behind the scenes.
According to Friends of the Dallas Public Library Chair Gary Gadson, “Even in the worst days of the pandemic, we never faltered in our commitment to advocacy and financial support to keep our libraries accessible.”
Now, not only are all 30 Dallas Public Library locations open, including the newest Forest Green and Vickery Park branches, but the staffs’ online abilities and other services are even better than ever.
As a tip of the hat to the library system, the Dallas City Council has added $300K to its initial budget plan, “helping the library keep pace with rising costs,” and increased funding to allow 15 branches to be open more hours.
In the meantime, Friends has kicked off its largest undertaking of monetary support in many years: a $1.1M campaign to support the library programs in the upcoming fiscal year.
As Gary explained, “With things hopefully returning to normal, and our 75th anniversary only two years away, we wanted to redouble our efforts and our investment in this great Dallas institution.”
The funds will be used for the following:
- A $200,000 investment in new “Reading Ready Play Spaces” in all 30 libraries. These spaces, designed for children 0-5 and their caregivers, will provide designated spaces for children to develop essential skills to prepare for kindergarten. This project is generously funded by The David M. Munson and Mona Campbell Munson Fund of The Dallas Foundation.
- Significant funding for Dallas Public Library’s early childhood literacy programs, multicultural programming for families, and educational programming for school-age children in science, math, art, reading and technology including the annual Express Yourself Youth Poetry & Art Competition and the SMART Summer Reading program.
- Adult education and workforce development initiatives including high school equivalency preparation classes, GED testing scholarships and English language learning classes.
- A $250,000 commitment over two years to help the city fund the Dallas Public Library’s Master Facilities and Strategic plan that will guide the future of our library system.
- Grants for Library staff to inspire new, innovative projects and their own professional development.
In addition to the campaign, Friends is hosting its first in-person fundraising event — “Love Local Gala” — in three years on Thursday, October 20 at the J. Eric Jonsson Central Library honoring the members of the Dallas Public Library staff with the Exall Award. Another highlight of the evening will be a panel discussion moderated by Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuatanejo featuring local authors Harry Hunsicker, Jim Schutze, Donna Wilhelm and Erin Yun.
Friends Executive Director Mary Wilonsky said, “We’re off to a great start this year. With the help of our generous supporters and donors for the ‘Love Local Gala,’ we’ll make this an even greater year ahead for Dallas Public Library and for the Friends.”
Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available here.