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Your Support Changes Lives

When you support Durham County Library’s Summer Reading Program you help children succeed.

For over fifty years, Durham County Library has provided the Summer Reading Program for thousands of Durham’s children.

I'm a Summer Reading Star!Your support helps:

  • prevent the summer slide;
  • improve children’s literacy skills; and
  • foster a lifelong love of reading.

Durham County Library’s Summer Reading Program:

  • keeps children reading throughout the summer—reading as few as five books can help children maintain their academic skills for the new school year;
  • reduces negative perceptions about summer learning for students who are struggling;
  • offers extensive creative enrichment activities related to literature that are often not included in school because of time constraints;
  • encourages readers to explore alternate formats such as magazines, recorded books, graphic novels or digital material; and
  • develops patterns of reading during summer breaks as students return to the program year after year.


If you would like to learn about other ways of giving, visit our Make a Gift page.


How We Spent Our Summer

Will You Be Our “Hero”?

Durham Library Foundation provides funding for Durham County Library’s popular Summer Reading program. This year’s theme was “Every Hero Has a Story,” and our kids proved to be reading superheroes themselves, logging more than 2,508,731 reading points. This surpassed last summer’s totals by 27%!

Summer Reading helps to prevent the dreaded “summer slide” for students, preparing them to return to school with improved literacy skills. This successful program would not be possible without YOUR support. Today, please make a donation to help Durham children return to school retaining the knowledge they learned throughout the school year and with their academic skills sharp.

Through Summer Reading, kids’ imaginations are sparked by stories and educational activities. Students gain added confidence and creativity. Be a “hero” to the Durham community. Give now so we can start planning for our next successful Summer Reading program. What invaluable gifts you will make possible for children and families in Durham!


When DCL Wins, the Community Wins

In June, DCL was awarded the American Library Association’s prestigious John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award for Durham Reads Together: March, a series of programs and events featuring Rep. John Lewis that brought the community together across many diverse lines to share in the story of the Civil Rights Movement. With a comprehensive marketing strategy and intentional scheduling of powerful programs like Durham Marches Together, Durham Sings Together and Durham Remembers Together, the month-long event, held in October 2014, helped reinforce the power of a unified community to tackle even its toughest problems. Durham Library Foundation provided “the margin of excellence” by funding this award winning program.

Digging Durham Seed Library wins a National Association of Counties Achievement Award! Funded by a grant from Durham Library Foundation, Durham County Library launched this special library “collection” of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds. Library patrons are now able to “check out” seeds and then “return” harvested seeds once the growing season is complete. By providing seeds and encouraging seed saving, Digging Durham Seed Library helps to develop seed stock that is well suited to our climate and boosts local biodiversity. It also helps citizens save money. The library partners with S.E.E.D.S., a local nonprofit; Master Gardeners; and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. To date, residents have “checked out” more than 4000 seed packets. Find out more at, and give today to help us continue this popular program.


A Fond Farewell for a DCL Superhero

Our Humanities Programming “Hero” is retiring in August! Joanne Abel, Durham County Library’s Humanities and Adult Programming Coordinator is embarking on new adventures, featuring traveling, expanding her wealth of knowledge, and doing good things in the Durham community. Building on the success of our first Humanities Coordinator, Joanne has taken the program to new heights. More than 6,500 patrons have enjoyed a wide range of programming that had something for everyone. From the serious to the comical, Joanne crafted programs that showcased local experts, regional favorites and national authors. She partnered with myriad Durham organizations, nonprofits and businesses to bring Durham top-notch programs. Joanne even highlighted local artists by using their art as covers for the program brochures. Under her leadership, the Humanities Society has grown to over 2,000 members, a feat practically unheard of in adult programming. If you have enjoyed these wonderful programs, please make a donation to Durham Library Foundation in Joanne’s honor.

Onward and upward, Joanne!

North Carolina Collection Soirées

Durham Library Foundation cordially invites you to attend the final in a year-long series of soirees celebrating and supporting the Durham County Library North Carolina Collection.

“Collecting, preserving and making available the historical record of Durham County.”

Hosts: Linda and Bill Wilson
Sunday, Dec. 6, 5 – 7 p.m.
302 Watts St. (formerly Watts Hospital, 1895)

This fundraising event is free, but please consider making a $75 or more gift.

2014 End-of-Year Recap

This has been quite a year for Durham County Library, thanks to the generous support of Durham Library Foundation supporters.

Our First Library In Space project won the Top Innovators award by the national Urban Library Council and also won top honors from the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association. This science-based program was part of Summer Reading, the library’s most popular event, which is funded in large part by donations to the Foundation.

Launched in April, our Digging Durham Seed Library has been a huge success as well! Patrons “borrowed” thousands of packets of seeds to grow gardens filled with fruits and vegetables.

Durham Reads Together (one book, one month, one community) focused on March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis. It brought Durham together to march, to learn, to sing and to reflect as a community on the Civil Rights Movement. More than 1,900 people attended a variety of programs throughout the month.

These special events are highlights, but the library provides vibrant, engaging programs and services to the Durham community each day. More than 160,000 residents have Durham County Library cards. Last year 1.6 million people visited the library and checked out 3.1 million books, audiobooks, free downloadable ebooks and other materials.

Each year adults attend thought provoking humanities and adult programming featuring national and local scholars and authors; teens experience new technology, most recently in the library’s MakerSpace, complete with a 3D printer; children hone their literacy skills during Summer Reading and the ever popular storytimes; and the entire community benefits from the strong commitment of the North Carolina Collection to acquire, save and share Durham history.

While public tax dollars provide for staff and buildings, many of these programs and services would not be possible without extra support from Durham Library Foundation. The Annual Fund and the Campaign for the Library, nearing $1 million, help to provide the “margin of excellence” that makes Durham County Library so vital to the Durham community.

Your year-end gift will make the difference. Please give generously today.

Support Summer Reading with a Gift to the Foundation

Your support for Durham County Library’s Summer Reading Program does so many wonderful things:

  • prevents the dreaded “summer slide” (kids losing what they have learned by the start of the new school year)
  • helps children improve their literacy skills
  • fosters a lifelong love for reading.

Girl with carrotsFor more than fifty years, Durham County Library has provided the Summer Reading Program for thousands of Durham’s children.

The positives of Durham County Library’s Summer Reading Program:

  • Reading four or five books over the summer can have a significant benefit for middle school readers
  • Reduces the negative perception about summer learning for students who are struggling
  • Encourages readers, especially those who are struggling, to use alternate formats such as magazines, recorded books, graphic novels or material on the internet
  • Offers extensive enrichment activities related to literature that are often not included in school because of time constraints
  • Participants often return to Summer Reading year after year, which helps them to develop a pattern of building reading into their summer routine.

Please consider a gift to Durham Library Foundation to help support Summer Reading.

A Message from the President of the Foundation

As a business owner in this community for more than 30 years, I’ve seen Durham County Library grow not only in size, with a library location within 5 miles of most County residents, but also in importance to the people of Durham. By providing top-notch programs and services to all in Durham, the library provides avenues to education and enrichment, facts and fun, and community and creativity. We have a great library system in Durham! How do we keep it that way, and make it even better?

As president of Durham Library Foundation, I know that my tax dollars, and yours, help to fund the basic costs of running the library. Yet so much more funding is needed to provide the “but fors” that make this library system so special to all of us. “But for” your support and funding from Durham Library Foundation, our library would have to curtail or stop many library services and programs.

This year, I am asking you to support Durham Library Foundation in two ways.

  • Give to the Annual Fund. This fund supports the on-going, day-to-day expenses of library programs and services like Summer Reading and the collection with large print/audio books and e-materials. Also, Durham County Library’s award-winning humanities programming would not be possible without Annual Fund giving. This year’s signature event, a visit from inaugural poet Richard Blanco, drew over 500 people. But for support from Durham Library Foundation that would not have happened.
  • Earn your stripes by making an additional gift to the Campaign for the Library. The Foundation is more than halfway to its $1.5 million goal of funding six significant areas of the library. The additional funds raised through the Campaign will help us to keep Durham County Library one of the best in the state, if not the country.

You can help to keep our library great by supporting Durham Library Foundation. Please give generously to the Annual Fund and the Campaign for the Library. Thank you!


Phil Hutchings
President / Durham Library Foundation

Pillars of the Foundation Recognized at Reception

Endowments to the Durham Library Foundation are critical in supporting the foundation’s mission of providing the margin of excellence for the Durham County Library.

On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, at Southwest Regional Library, the foundation honored those individuals and organizations who have generously established foundation endowments. Staff members shared how these endowments have impacted their programs and affected the lives of individuals in the Durham community.

The foundation’s current endowments are:

NEH Humanities Endowment
Semans Humanities Endowment
C. M. Herndon Humanities Endowment
BP-Family Fare Humanities Endowment Fund
E.T. Rollins, Jr. and Frances P. Rollins Humanities Endowment

The Andrew Goodridge Memorial Endowment Fund
Dale Gaddis Endowment Fund for Youth Services

GSK Literacy Endowment
Timmins Endowment for Summer Reading
Friends of the Durham Library (Youth 1-18)
Kiwanis Endowment for Children’s Programs

Barada-Noell Family Endowment for Large Print Books and Audio Books
Friends of the Durham Library (EZ Readers)
Odile Alloin Gould Endowment for Children’s Literacy
The Jonathan Henderson Memorial Endowment

Special Collections
The Willis P. and Leona P. Whichard Endowment for the North Carolina Collection

Merle D. Umstead Endowment Fund for Outreach

Mary Louise Vincent Back Memorial Endowment
Fox Family Foundation Endowment

The foundation also announced that donor recognition walls will be installed at Main Library (after renovation), South Regional, Southwest Regional and Stanford L. Warren Branch. Donors who give at the following levels will be recognized on the walls:

  • GSK Pillar: $500K +
  • Friends Pillar: $250K – $499,999
  • C.M. Herndon Pillar: $100K – $249,999
  • Aaron M. Moore Pillar: $25K – $99,999
  • Willis P. Whichard Pillar: $15K – $24,999
  • Jonathan Henderson Pillar: $5K – $14,999

If you are interested in learning more about Durham Library Foundation endowments, please contact Alice Sharpe at 919-560-0193 or

You Can Name a Character in Upcoming Romance Novel

Durham Library Foundation will auction off the chance to be a character in a soon to be published romance novel. The live auction, which will benefit the Foundation’s $1.5 million Campaign for the Library, begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1, and the bidding will continue until 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. The opening bid is $100. Donors can bid online and watch their bids update in real time. The winner will be notified by Durham County Library on November 1, 2013.

The romance novel, written by Jennifer Lohmann, Southwest Regional Library’s Adult Services Manager, is titled Weekends in Carolina. The story follows new landowner Trey Harris, who returns to his childhood home after the death of his alcoholic father. Trey is desperate to sell the farm and cut his ties to Durham. If a developer razes the farm to the ground, even better. Standing in his way is Max Backstrom. She’s been farming the land for five years and wants to buy it, but she can’t afford Trey’s price. The more time Trey spends at the farm, the more he is attracted to Max – and impressed by the changes she’s made to the land. He swore he’d never live in North Carolina again, but can he find happiness without Max? Harlequin will publish the novel in January 2014.

Lohmann has published two previous romance novels, Reservations for Two and The First Move, both Harlequin Books. As a librarian, Lohmann is committed to helping her patrons find just the right book. She hosts an annual romance tea with local romance authors and runs a popular romance book club. In 2011, she was named Librarian of the Year by the Romance Writers of America.

For more information about the auction call 919-560-0193.

Durham Library Foundation Sponsors Richard Blanco Visit

Durham Library Foundation is proud to sponsor inaugural poet Richard Blanco’s visit to Durham. Join us on Sunday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre for an evening of poetry with Blanco. This event is free and open to the public.

Blanco is the youngest, first Latino and first openly gay poet to serve as the Presidential inaugural poet. He is the author of three prizing winning books, City of a Hundred Fires, Directions to The Beach of the Dead and Looking for The Gulf Motel. Blanco is a builder of cities as well as poems; he holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and a master of fine arts in creative writing.

Prior to the event, from 6 – 7 p.m. in the Carolina Theatre’s Connie Moses Ballroom, the foundation will host a “Meet the Poet” fundraising reception for library supporters. Join us for this intimate gathering and meet Richard Blanco. You’ll also get VIP seating at the free event following the reception. Tickets for the reception are $50 and can be purchased online.

Blanco’s appearance is presented by Durham County Library and Durham Technical Community College, and sponsored by the Friends of the Durham Library, Durham Library Foundation and the Durham Technical Community College Foundation.