Group redoubles efforts for city’s great system

By the Friends of the Dallas Public Library

After two years of limited services, the Dallas Public Library — and the Friends of the Dallas Public Library — have come roaring back in a big way.

All 30 Dallas Public Library locations are open again, and the creativity and innovation that the staff developed to serve Dallas remotely during the pandemic have made the library system even better. Librarians continue to serve patrons online, offer curbside book pickup and other services, and welcome people back into libraries to enjoy the many resources in person.

Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library

At City Hall, the Dallas City Council also made a strong statement in support of our public library system, increasing funding that will allow 15 branches to be open more hours — with plans to increase hours at the remaining locations to at least six days a week in the next fiscal year.  The Council also added $300,000 to the initial budget plan for library materials, helping the library keep pace with rising costs.

Both of these actions were strongly advocated by the many Friends and library supporters who attended the recent Council budget town hall meetings.

 But there’s more good news to report. The Friends board of directors has approved an ambitious $1.1 million campaign in support of library programs in the upcoming fiscal year, its largest undertaking of monetary support in many years.

“Even in the worst days of the pandemic, we never faltered in our commitment to advocacy and financial support to keep our libraries accessible, vital and vibrant for Dallas residents,” said Friends Chairman Gary Gadson. “With things hopefully returning to normal, and our 75th anniversary only two years away, we wanted to redouble our efforts and our investment in this great Dallas institution.”

The $1.1 million will fund many enhancements beyond the city budget,  including:

• A $200,000 investment in new “Reading Ready Play Spaces” in all 30 libraries. These spaces, designed for children 0-5 and their caregivers will provide designated spaces for children to develop essential skills to prepare for kindergarten. This project is generously funded by The David M. Munson and Mona Campbell Munson Fund of The Dallas Foundation.

• Significant funding for Dallas Public Library’s early childhood literacy programs, multicultural programming for families, and educational programming for school-age children in science, math, art, reading and technology including the annual Express Yourself Youth Poetry & Art Competition and the SMART Summer Reading program.

• Adult education and workforce development initiatives including high school equivalency preparation classes, GED testing scholarships and English language learning classes.

• A $250,000 commitment over two years to help the city fund Dallas Public Library’s Master Facilities and Strategic plan that will guide the future of the library system.

• Grants for library staff to inspire new, innovative projects and their own professional development.

The Friends will also host its first in-person fundraising program in three years on Thursday, Oct. 20. 

The “Love Local” Gala, held during this year’s National Friends of Libraries Week, will recognize the entire Dallas Public Library staff by presenting them with the organization’s Exall Award for their extraordinary work each and every day, especially during the last two years. The event will also feature a panel of local authors discussing their work. The panel will be moderated by Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuatanejo.

The local authors who will participate in the Gala include:

• North Texas philanthropist and art advocate Donna Wilhelm

• Young adult-genre phenomenon Erin Yun

• Noir novelist Harry Hunsicker

• Political commentator, former newspaper columnist and author Jim Schutze.

The event will be held at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. More information can be found at

“We’re off to a great start this year,” said Executive Director Mary Wilonsky. “With the help of our generous supporters and donors for the Love Local Gala, we’ll make this an even greater year ahead for Dallas Public Library and for the Friends.”