Library foundation gets suprise gift
The recent passing of a Newberg man with a love of books and reading took the folks at the Library Foundation of Newberg by surprise.
The estate of William Morris Smart, who died in January, donated $50,000 to the foundation last week.
"The gift was a total surprise," said Leah Griffith, library director.
Griffith said no one at the library knew Smart, although they did have some contact with an anonymous nephew who described the man as a "private type."
Smart had lived on Wilsonville Road since 1973, according to press release from the library. He was an Army veteran and supervisor of land surveys for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). His nephew said Smart had a "huge collection of books" and loved to read.
The gift raises the library foundation's endowment to just more than $500,000. The infusion of cash into the endowment will go toward the foundation's efforts to ensure that the library is around to serve future generations. The foundation invests the endowment conservatively, according to the press release, and donates 4 percent of the proceeds annually to library programs.
In 2017, that money went toward programs such as "Growing Readers," which gives a book to each newborn at Providence Newberg Medical Center.
In 2018, $20,000 was distributed from the endowment to fund a new microfilm reader and improve access to historic documents. It also went toward the purchase of virtual reality (VR) equipment and new books.
"For a number of years, the economic environment has put the library in a place where we have been unable to keep up with purchasing new books," Griffith said, adding that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the library must now purchase large print books, Kindle and e-reader editions, print editions and audiobooks. "Our library is underfunded compared to other libraries of our size and the funds from the foundation are vital to fulfilling our mission of community service."
Griffith said she hopes the Smart estate's example of donating to the foundation's endowment will catch on with others.
"It's easy to add the foundation as a beneficiary in your will or estate plan," said Allyn Brown, foundation treasurer. "It really is the gift that keeps on giving because your money is part of a pool that pays out every year, versus a one-time gift."