Community Support

Planning for the 2005 library expansion began in 1997. To move the project forward, the Foundation Board made the commitment to organize a capital campaign to raise $2 million in private donations. Enthusiastic community support resulted in private donations of $2.5 million by the end of the capital campaign.

Community Fund Drive

During the course of the capital campaign, over 100 community members volunteered to help the Foundation with the fundraising effort. By April 2001, donations to the campaign passed the $1 million mark. By October 2001, donations had reached $1.8 million and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert returned to his hometown to host a fundraising benefit for what he fondly named “The Urbana Free and Wonderful Library.”

Wonderful Community Support

By October 2002, the Foundation’s fundraising goal exceeded $2 million with $2.5 million in private donations raised by the end of the capital campaign. The $8.5 million library expansion was achieved without raising taxes and without incurring any debt. The Foundation is grateful to the many community leaders who were devoted to this endeavor and who are largely responsible for its success. Over 1,200 community members, businesses, and organizations made gifts in support of the library’s expansion.

Reaching the Goal

The groundbreaking on October 20, 2002, celebrated the community’s commitment to a shared vision for the library. The completely renovated and expanded library was dedicated with great joy on May 1, 2005. The Foundation remains committed to the promise that The Urbana Free Library will continue to inspire, educate, and nurture every generation of the community.

Capital Campaign Steering Committee

In assuming leadership responsibility for the fundraising campaign, the Steering Committee worked with tireless dedication and all members made significant and unique contributions.

Foundation president Rupert Evans chaired the committee, joined by campaign co-chairs Kermit and Ann Harden. Foundation board member Joan Hood, retired from a career in development at the University of Illinois library, shared her considerable professional fundraising expertise. Board member Susan Stone, highly-regarded in the community, made a significant number of successful major gift solicitations. Board member Cameron Satterthwaite secured several major gifts and enlisted many community members to serve on the cabinet. Retained by the Foundation to serve as campaign director, Gerri Kirchner provided invaluable planning, public relations, and organizational support. Retired Executive Director Frederick Schlipf managed an institution with a national reputation that is beloved by library patrons. His stewardship of the library and his careful supervision of the building design and construction have insured the continued vitality of Urbana 's award-winning educational center.

Rupert Evans

Rupart EvansRupert Evans was president of The Urbana Free Library Foundation from its inception in 1997 until the renovated and expanded library was dedicated in May 2005. Rupert's tireless and enthusiastic commitment to the success of this endeavor preserved the size and scope of the building plan by encouraging the Foundation's promise to increase their fundraising goal from $1 million to $2 million. His enthusiastic and charismatic leadership inspired the board and the community to share his vision for the library's future and move forward to achieve it.

Retired dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Rupert had a distinguished career as an educator, joining the university faculty as an assistant professor of vocational and technical education and going on to serve as associate dean and then dean. He was a Fulbright lecturer in Japan , a consultant in eighteen foreign countries, and author of eleven books and nearly one hundred journal articles. He regarded his work with the Foundation as the capstone of an interesting career.

The Evans family was very generous in their support of the library. Rupert's first wife, Jean Evans, launched the library expansion with a major gift before her death in 1999. The Jean Evans Room in the Archives is named in her honor. Rupert's wife Mary K. Evans was also extremely supportive of the library expansion project and sponsored the Music Collection Area.

Kermit and Ann Harden

Kermit and Ann HardenThe Urbana Free Library Foundation gratefully recognizes longtime Urbana residents Kermit and Ann Harden for their service as co-chairs of the capital campaign for library expansion. Their dedicated leadership of the three-year fundraising effort was a large part of its success.

A WWII veteran, Kermit was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Silver Star. He earned a B.S. in math education and an Ed.D. from the University of Illinois . Kermit held many administrative positions during his career in education, including superintendent of Urbana schools and has served on the boards of Urbana Rotary, The Reading Group, the Boy Scouts, and the UI Alumni Association.  Kermit devoted many years of volunteer service to the library in leadership roles on the board of trustees and the Foundation board. As liaison between both boards, he helped plan for library expansion, provided oversight of construction, and helped organize the fundraising campaign.

Ann was also employed in the field of education, teaching high school and junior high school before leaving the profession to raise their two children. Ann has been active in volunteer service for many organizations, including PTA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Children's Theatre Board, First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, PEO, and the University of Illinois President's Council.  As campaign co-chair, Ann brought gracious leadership to the endeavor. She played a major role in engaging community members to support the library campaign as volunteers and donors. Ann's assistance in all aspects of the fundraising effort was significant to the campaign's success.

Leadership and Sponsorship Gifts

Leadership Gifts For Library Spaces

Gifts of $20,000 or more.

Charles Dean Lewis
Jean Evans
Chester and Nadine Houston
Flex-N-Gate Corporation
Busey Bank and Douglas and Linda Mills
Robert Spitze, Hazel Taylor Spitze, Glenna Dean Spitze, and Christopher Taylor Franklin
Joan and Peter Hood
Robert Spitze and Hazel Taylor Spitze
Pam and Phil Knox
Betty Ann Knight
Kenneth and Marlyn Rinehart and Family
Gloria and Allan Mueller
Cameron and Helen Satterthwaite and Family
Jack Simon
Alice and Kenneth Lansing
John and Helen Carson
The Scharlau-Zimmer Family
Jon and Judith Liebman
The Rotary Club of Urbana
Richard and Waynona Brown and Family
William and Annie Laurie Horsfall
Wayne and Loretta LaFave
John and Irene Clements
Jack and Kay Briscoe
Donna and Stuart Mamer
Elaine and Max Hershbarger
Frederick and Carolyn Green

Sponsorship Gifts for Library Expansion

Gifts of $10,000 to $19,999.

Richard Anderson and Jana Mason
Clarissa Barnes
Robert and Marie Bohl
Donald and Jean Burkholder
Bei Tse and May Chao
William Davey
Mary K. Evans
Marvin and Mati Frankel
The Friends of The Urbana Free Library
Virginia Guthrie
Dr. John and Barbara Houseworth
Harold and Pat Jensen
Eldon Johnson
Mary and Ulrich Kruse
Raymond and Jane Leuthold
Robert P. Link
Main Street Bank and Trust
Donna Knudson McPherson
Richard and Anna Merritt
The News-Gazette
Esther Patt
The Quisenberry Family
Simon Rosenzweig
Stephen and Deborah Rugg
Kirsten Schousboe
Trent Shepard
William Sleator
Victor and Susan Stone
Mary Adell Styles
The Webber-Thies Family