The Edmon Low Library Endowment
The Edmon Low Library Endowment was established in 1985 and has surpassed the original goal of $1 million. Gifts, such as the one from the Class of 1939 and the $500k challenge grant from the Kerr foundation made this achievement possible; however, many people - who value libraries and access to information - have generously donated to the Endowment. Their names, along with others who have supported a wide range of library projects, are included on plaques in the OSU Library's Hall of Fame (2nd floor, Edmon Low Library).
This endowment annually purchases library materials to support OSU's diverse instructional, research, and outreach programs.
Edmon Low Library Endowment Fully Funded
First Million Dollars Raised; New Projects Planned
Story orginally ran in Spring 1998 Perspectives
The Edmon Low Library Endowment has reached its first major milestone: One million dollars. Dr. Edward R. Johnson, OSU dean of libraries, says, "We have been working diligently during the last ten years or so to meet this goal, and the Bringing Dreams to Life Campaign gave us a chance to focus our fundraising efforts on achieving it. Considering where we started and where we are now, this project has been a resounding success." He is referring to the fact that between 1964 and 1984 the OSU Library received less than $52,000 in private gifts, approximately $2,600 each year.
"I knew OSU alumni, friends, faculty, students as well as corporations and foundations would support the idea of a library endowment." The Endowment, which began in 1984, has generated broad-based support with many gifts being less than $500. In fact, a number of contributors have been donating for years on a monthly basis. Jennifer Paustenbaugh, director of development and outreach, points to Cheryl Jones, now a member of the OSU Foundation Board of Governors, as one donor who has consistently given more than six years.
"However," Paustenbaugh continues, "the $500,000 challenge grant from the Kerr Foundation initiated 1990 was our most significant gift." Kerr Foundation Funds provided $250,000 for the Endowment and $250,000 for the immediate purchase of library materials.
"The most important part of the Kerr grant was that we meet the challenge a year early. This vividly illustrated how much people supported the Library as well as let businesses, foundations and the OSU community know that we were serious when it came to raising funds for library services, technology and materials."
One of the earliest boost to The Endowment was from the Class of 1936 which directed its 50th Anniversary class gift to the Library. The last gift needed to reach the $1-million mark was from Dr. Jim Wise, an Oklahoma City ophthalmologist. "When the goal was in sight, Dr. Johnson called Dr. Wise, who is an ardent library supporter. He had said on several occasions that he wanted to give the last gift for The Endowment to reach its initial goal."
The Edmon Low Library Endowment was established in 1985 by the OSU Foundation for the Library to generate annual funds for services and materials. Early efforts to raise money included the Student Government Association's "Save Our Library" campaign and its book sale in January 1985, which eventually raised $10,000, and a separate campaign that was started to encourage graduating seniors to donate their advanced fee deposits to the Library.
During this same time the OSU Board of Regents appointed Edna Mae Phelps and Carolyn Savage to a task force to look at library resources. Both regents realized the need for the Library to improve in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) rankings and to fund an electronic library system. Their leadership and support contributed to the OSU Library climbing eight places in the ARL standings and implementing the online information system, PETE, which will soon be upgraded and expanded to include other libraries in the A&M System.
Phelps' and Savage's commitment to the OSU Library has remained firm. Phelps, the first president of the Friends of the OSU Library, now has a library recognition award established in her honor and Savage is currently serving as the president for the Friends organization.
Dr. Johnson is not one to rest on his laurels: He is wants The Endowment to continue growing and he is raising money for other priority projects including the Twenty-First Century Library Technology Endowment, The Women's Archives at OSU, and the Chief Wilma P. Mankiller Collection. "Library materials become more expensive every year. the average cost of a book in 1995 was $25. Today the books we purchase average $45 each, an inflation rate of 80 percent."
He says, "I believe that alumni, faculty, and OSU supporters realize that a gift to the Library has an impact on more students and faculty than a gift to any other area of the University. Working to develop this endowment and meeting so many wonderful people has been the most positive experience for me."
Some Local Resources:
Read about the History of the Library
View the items purchased by the Edmon Low Library Endowment
For information on the H. Louise & H.E. "Ed" Cobb Speaker Series presented by the Friends of the OSU Library, contact Debbie Clemons at email@example.com or 405-744-7273.