Brentwood Library Foundation rethinks its role after Holt donation


Brentwood Library Foundation rethinks its role after Holt donation

By MATT BLOIS

A large donation to the Brentwood library is forcing the Brentwood Library Foundation to rethink its role.

The foundation raises money for major improvements to the library, but now it wants to figure out how it can best compliment the large donation from the Holt family.

The foundation is an independent nonprofit organization. It has raised funds for the outdoor reading patio and new meeting rooms that will be completed this month. However, donations to the foundation have dropped since the city announced the Holt family’s roughly $4.2 million dollar donation.

Dottie Grief chairs the library’s board of directors and serves as the library board’s representative on the foundation board. She said the drop in contributions might be directly related to the Holt donation, and now the foundation is debating what to do about it.

“We have this source of money coming in, does it make our mission less clear or do we continue and we have to do a lot of educating?” She said.   

She said that most people don’t seem to understand that the library isn’t just getting a check for $4 million. The donation is going to the city rather than the library directly, and most of the money will likely stay in an endowment.

That means the donation will produce a reliable source of income for the library each year through investments and interest. However, some ambitious projects might require more than the returns produced by the endowment. That’s why Grief thinks the foundation still has a role to play.

“This library is so great. There are so many ways to improve it,” she said. “But we need money to do it. The foundation is looking at that. We need all the money we can get coming in despite this $4.2 (million donation).”

At a meeting on Wednesday, the library board reviewed a set of guidelines governing the use of the Holt donation. Those guidelines require 75 percent of the donation to remain in the endowment. The city could use the rest of the money on projects that it wouldn’t normally fund in its annual budget. The City Commission still has to approve those guidelines.

The foundation is waiting to see the final set of rules that will control the Holt donation before making any decisions. Grief said the foundation might continue on like it always has, but it might also choose to dissolve completely or merge with the Friends of the Library, another nonprofit group that supports many of the library’s programs.

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