Eckhart Library Foundation board

Board members of the new Eckhart Library Foundation gather on the front steps of the library in Auburn. In front, from left, are Kathie Kock, Janelle Graber, Sharon Smith and Carolyn Foley. In back are Robert Tracey, Vicki James and Angela Mapes Turner. An additional member, W. Erik Weber, was not present for the photograph.

AUBURN — A new Eckhart Library Foundation has been formed to raise money for restoring and rebuilding the fire-damaged library and supporting its future operation.

The foundation was established March 20 in response to the July 2, 2017, arson fire that significantly damaged the main Eckhart Public Library. The fire has closed the main library building for nearly a year. Library officials said it reinforced the need for significant endowment and maintenance funding for the library.

Eckhart Library Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation that promotes education and learning for the general citizenry through supporting Eckhart Public Library.

The amount of money needed to rebuild the library and restore its damaged historic section is significantly more than the insurance reimbursement provided, library officials said. The foundation was created as a means to help procure the funding on behalf of the library through writing grant proposals and community fundraising in DeKalb County. Efforts are underway to secure 501©3 status for the Eckhart Library Foundation, which will allow all donations to be tax-deductible to the donor.

On April 4, the board of Eckhart Library Foundation held its first meeting and established its bylaws and officers, including: Carolyn Foley, president; Vicki James, vice presidentl W. Erik Weber, treasurer; Angela Mapes Turner, secretary; and members Kathie Kock, Sharon Smith and Robert Tracey. Janelle Graber, director of the library, serves as the library’s liaison to the foundation board.

“In my capacity of president of the library board of trustees, I am very pleased with the creation of the Eckhart Library Foundation, which will be an important support to the Eckhart Public Library in the future,” said Foley. “The overarching purpose of the foundation is to advocate on behalf of and to raise funds for the support of the library. With one organization dedicated to identifying and growing relationships with donors, it is my hope that Eckhart Public Library will continue its tradition of low taxation with no bonding or borrowing for its next century of service. Additionally, with the development of the foundation, potentially less staff time may be used for fundraising in the future.”

Explaining how the Eckhart Library Foundation differs from the Friends of the Eckhart Public Library, Foley said, “In my opinion, the Eckhart Library Foundation is a complementary organization with the Friends of the Library. The Friends of the Library remains an important community partner to the Eckhart Public Library as they continue to provide staff support, volunteers and fundraising for programming at the Eckhart Public Library.”

Angela Mapes Turner, secretary of the foundation, further explained the need for its creation. “The Eckhart Library Foundation is excited for the opportunity to increase the library’s fundraising capacity,” she said. “Building the endowment and maintenance fund will free up dollars to support the programs and services that are so valued by our community.”

The foundation board will meet regularly to establish priorities moving into the first operating year, including planning fundraising activities and seeking grants. The foundation hopes not only to raise money to help the library rebuild from the fire, but also to provide a secure future to help maintain and support the vital place of education and learning for the community. The library’s operating funding has not increased at a rate that can sustain current services and facilities, and funding is unstable from year to year because of Indiana tax laws, the board said in a news release.

The public is invited to the library at 6:30 p.m. Monday “to hear an exciting announcement and to share in its successes during a most challenging year since the fire,” a news relesae said. The event will take place on the east lawn of the library grounds at 603 S. Jackson St.

Tours of the library will be offered starting at 5 p.m. and following the announcement, with no reservations needed. As an additional gesture of thanks, the library will serve lemonade at all library locations from noon to 5 p.m. Monday.

A news release described that as “a grateful nod to the children in the community who raised funds for the library after the fire through lemonade stands.”

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