When the financial problems of the Greenwood Public Library became acute, the public stepped up with support, both in terms of volunteer labor and monetary donations.
The biggest single financial boost came from a talk by former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight. It was organized by retired National Basketball Association stars Tom and Dick Van Arsdale, who grew up in Greenwood.
The Knight to Remember fundraiser brought in about $60,000, library director Cheryl Dobbs said. The library has been putting that money toward fixes it hadn’t been able to afford before, including a drainage project to stop flooding in the children’s department offices.
The library still has a number of major maintenance projects coming up, including a heating and air conditioning system that likely will need to be replaced in the next five years. Library officials are working out how to pay for those projects, Dobbs said. The library has been saving money for upcoming projects and unexpected repairs and also has been pursuing grants and donations, she said.
“The building is getting caught up more,” she said. “But we’re still facing major repairs.”
Financial struggles prevented the library from making those repairs during the past few years, and drops in property tax revenue required $480,000 in spending cuts last year. The library got a new director and board, reduced its hours of operation and increased its fundraising efforts.
The library has raised about $290,000 since 2010 by conducting more fundraising events, including Knight’s speech last fall.
About $20,000 from the Knight event is being set aside for the new Hilda Van Arsdale Library Fund, which will continue to fund repairs and programs over time, library director of development Jane Weisenbach said. The library plans to add to the fund every year and is considering making the Knight to Remember event the first in a series of annual fundraisers.
The library hasn’t worked out the details but could bring in speakers or basketball stars for a big fundraising event each year, she said.
The Van Arsdales have expressed interest in continuing to help the library after setting up last year’s fundraiser and establishing the memorial fund for their mother, Hilda, who was a longtime library patron, Weisenbach said.
The Van Arsdale family helps decide how the money in the fund gets spent, Weisenbach said. They decided the most pressing need was to make long-overdue repairs to the library building.
Most of the repairs being done are aimed at improving safety or taking care of maintenance to help avoid bigger bills later, Dobbs said.
The money raised by the Van Arsdales has been an incalculable blessing for the library and the community. The repairs the funds have paid for are significant.
But the library board was wise to set aside some of that money to create a permanent fund. Not only will it continue to honor a longtime library supporter, it will serve as a continuing reminder of the family’s generosity and commitment to Greenwood and the library.
Both the immediate expenditures for needed repairs and the attention to long-term interests show library officials are seeking to be good stewards of this generous gift.