Building a Strong Library Foundation
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Courtesy of Zionsville Public Library
Many residents can identify a few, if not several, programs and services that the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library (HMMPL) offers, but did you know that these programs and services are made possible because of the dedication and fundraising efforts of the HMMPL Foundation? The Foundation supports the mission of the library by providing grants that fund major initiatives and projects like “United We Read,” Mobile Outreach Station, Library Wireless Network, Library Catalog Stations, the Winter and Summer Reading programs, the Crackerjack Book Program and other programs that serve our community.
We sat down with Executive Director Kimberly Olivares to discuss the functions of the Foundation, its history and its goals for the immediate future. Just over a year ago, Olivares was hired as the executive director after the Foundation board decided to hire a part-time director. Olivares’ served as an Academic Advisor at IUPUI and an Administrative Manager and Managing Editor at IU before applying and accepting an administrative assistant position as HMMPL, prior to being hired as the Foundation’s executive director.
“My family moved to Zionsville almost five years ago,” Olivares shared. “I left IU in 2014 after being there [IUPUI campus] for 14 years. I took a year off, and it just so happens that one day, I went to the library to pay my fines. Yes, I had to pay my fines. There was an advertisement for an administrative and finance assistant position at the library. My kids were in school, and I’ve always been a big fan of libraries, so it was a good fit. Growing up as a kid in Plainfield, I would ride my bike to the library and to the ballfields. Those were my two places to go during the summer.”
Olivares emphasized that her own children have been involved in various activities at the library and are enjoying the advantage of being exposed to things without having to leave the community.
“The Foundation decided to hire someone part-time and start down this road of being more active in its fundraising,” Olivares said. “In the past, the fundraising has been more passive and has been the recipient of very generous gifts that have allowed the Foundation to exist and to support the library’s initiatives. Now that we’ve built a bit of the infrastructure this year, we’re ready to turn on the faucet and see if it all works. I am eager to see the Foundation grow.”
Olivares acknowledged the generosity of donors from the past. “The library itself wouldn’t exist without the donation of Mr. Joseph Pitzer who left $600 in his will to create a township library in 1896,” she said. “That donation was followed by the endowments of Lora Hussey, Mary Mayfield and the cousin of Lora Hussey, Olive Huffman. A fun fact, the niece of Mayfield’s, Mary Grabianowski, is on the Foundation board. This Foundation is totally community-driven, and the same community has literally created, promoted and sustained both Foundation and library since prior to the turn of the last century.”
The Foundation board’s focus is primarily on raising awareness and developing a donor base, so it can continue to promote the mission of the library.
“Our initiatives are to educate the community about the role that the Foundation plays in promoting the mission of the library and moving it from above-average to excellent,” Olivares stated. “Our community has historically supported education, and I believe that our librarians and staff have done a phenomenal job over the decades building the library, or we wouldn’t be as vibrant as we are in the community.”
Olivares explained that the Foundation will also be laser-focused on building its donor base while it reaches out to members and organizations within the community to educate them on how the Foundation subsidizes and aids in meeting the library’s mission. This will include “Did You Know” Foundation “moments” that will be posted in the monthly newsletter as well as on the Foundation’s social media pages that are currently under development. Fundraising opportunities and other relevant news will also be posted on these pages.
“This is a place of lifelong learning,” Olivares said. “We are meeting our community members where they are at in their lives, and our services are designed for every stage of life. One of most recent initiatives was to partner with ZCS to co-sponsor our Book Bike program.”
Locally-based eBoom Electric Bikes custom-fitted a tricycle into a mobile library and was purchased, at cost, by the Foundation.
“This is one of the first programs that we will need help from the community to perpetually fund, so that we can purchase the books that are needed. This is another example of how we are meeting the library patrons where they are at.”
Individuals and organizations who are interested in learning more about the Foundation and the library initiatives/programs that it funds can visit the library’s website at zionsvillelibrary.org.