YouthBridge Endowment Funds: Jefferson County Library

The Jefferson County Library has big plans. After the disruption of COVID, the library district is back on track with its growth strategies, including the opening of a fourth branch later this year, the development of programs and services for users from preschoolers to older adults, and its reliance on technology to elevate its impact on the community.

“As far as technology, I think anybody interested in information should be able to get it in whatever form they want,” said Library Director Tony Benningfield in a statement when he was hired on in 2021. The library district has been automated from its start in 1991 and today offers a vast array of online resources to patrons – books, videos, music, genealogical records, tutorials and other online learning – downloadable on any device. It also is part of the Missouri Evergreen consortium that includes over 50 libraries across the state sharing digital resources and access to several million books.

“Tony really hit the ground running and I know has a lot of exciting ideas for continuing to transform the library services and stay relevant in a digital world,” says Patti Christen, Board President of the Jefferson County Library Foundation. The library established the foundation in 2010 to raise funds for system-wide technology services, community outreach and technology training for library staff, helping to offset declining state and federal support.

When Christen became board president in 2019, she wanted to think bigger than the foundation’s small annual fundraising events and certificates of deposit to support future growth. “I knew we needed a long-range strategy that would allow the library to take some risks in implementing new ideas, and I knew exactly where we should turn,” she says. Having worked on the establishment of an endowment fund with YouthBridge while with another organization, Christen described it to the Board as “absolutely the best deal in town.”

She facilitated discussions between the Board and YouthBridge for several months before they voted to invest with YouthBridge. All CDs are now moved into the fund upon maturity, says Christen, who also was able to put a gift from the former library director upon her retirement into the fund. “She loved the idea that her gift will be used in perpetuity,” she says.

“I completely trust YouthBridge’s expertise and they’ve made the process so smooth and seamless,” says Christen. “I think of it as planting a seed for future generations of library patrons to experience the same connections, information, entertainment and learning that their parents and grandparents have through the library.”

If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.