A New Chapter: Desert Foothills Library continues to expand in the North Valley with innovative programing and building upgrades
Desert Foothills Library continues to expand in the North Valley with innovative programing and building upgrades.
By Michelle Talsma Everson
David Court, executive director of Desert Foothills Library—alongside the library’s staff, board and volunteers—have some impressive visions and goals for the library.
“Desert Foothills Library is a public library so we have all of the assets that you would expect of a public library, but we are so much more than that,” Court explains.
What makes this particular community library unique, Court says, is that the majority of its funding (he estimates about 92 percent) comes from private donors. In fact, the library is specifically branded as a 501(c)3 nonprofit community-funded library.
“Because the majority of our funding comes from private donors, it enables us to make decisions that best fit our library and our community’s unique needs,” he explains.
About six years ago, Court says, key library staff, volunteers, and its board had a meeting of the minds and talked about where they thought the library would be 10 or more years down the road. They wanted the library to continue to be a focal point for the community.
“In order to keep people coming, it needed to be more than just a library,” Court shares. “So, we decided that what was best for this library was to focus on programming. We offer more than 1,000 programs a year and plan to increase that number.”
Court says that, as technology changes, libraries across the country are navigating how to stay relevant and best serve the communities they’re in. For Desert Foothills Library, offering educational, social and cultural programming for every age bracket made the most sense, he says.
To expand and better serve the community, the library embarked on a capital campaign that funds a five-year strategy to expand the current space and add more parking. The library recently announced the completion of a new parking garage, adding 52 more spaces. This completed part one of the expansion plan.
Part two of the expansion plan, according to library officials, will include expanding the building, including more space for kids and teens. There will also be a redesigned layout and a new flexible meeting space that can either accommodate 120 people, or two rooms of 60 people, Court says.
“I look forward to the new parking garage and upcoming building expansion adding to what makes the Desert Foothills Library such a special place that fosters culture, education, and community for people of all ages.” says Jo Gemmill, Desert Foothills Library board member and owner of the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree.
Court says that the physical expansions of the library will give way to programming expansion as well. He foresees the library being able to host more evening and weekend programming and, with a new layout and design, he hopes visitors can easily browse their collection of meaningful materials easier as well.
“One of our core values is low-cost or no-cost programming for kids on up through adults,” he assures. Some examples of programming include early literacy programs for children, clubs for writers and other interests, educational films, technology topics, Spanish immersion, money management workshops, and much more.
Court also shares that the library provides what he calls “meaningful volunteer experiences.” For example, its Chapter2 Bookstore is one of the largest used bookstores in the North Valley, is all staffed by volunteers, and raises funds that support the library.
To help keep the library expansion happening—and keep its current programing going into the future—Court says that fundraising events are vital. Coming up in 2018, the library will host a block party in March and a golf fundraiser in May.
“There are so many reasons to come to this facility and, with our new parking structure, there will be more room than ever before for people to park and spend time here,” Court says. “An investment in the local library in an investment in the community.”
To learn more about Desert Foothills Library, visit dfla.org.
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