What We Do

Durham Library Foundation supports Durham County Library by helping to fund several signature initiatives.

Humanities Programming

Our humanities programming brings nationally recognized authors and world-class scholars to thousands of library patrons, and is a model for other library systems around the state. Participation in the library’s innovative programs continues to double and redouble. These award-winning events are funded almost entirely by donations to the Foundation.

North Carolina Collection

The North Carolina Collection is the resource for historical records of the city and county of Durham. It is crucial that the library continue to provide these relevant materials to the public in a timely manner, but storage and cataloging needs present ongoing fiscal challenges. Funds from the Foundation help grow and support the collection.

Summer Reading

Summer Reading, the most popular Durham County Library program, touches thousands of children each summer. For two months, children log their daily reading and become eligible for rewards as they progress. The Foundation is committed to providing funding to this important program that helps keep children’s minds active during the summer and gets them ready for the upcoming school year.

Library Youth Partners

With GlaxoSmithKline, the Foundation supports Library Youth Partners. This innovative program trains high-school-aged teens to become leaders in spreading the benefits of literacy throughout the community.


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.

Make a gift today!

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.