News

Merris Sumrall, The Library Foundation, Multnomah County, Oregon

12/10/2013

Merris Sumrall, The Library Foundation, Multnomah County, Oregon

12/10/2013

Libraries across the nation have suffered from budget cuts and failed funding measures. These losses are the direct result of communities not understanding the value, and important work, of their public libraries. Increasingly, libraries have had trouble cementing the political will and broad-scale support for stable funding.

Multnomah County Library was no different. For decades, advocates had their sights set on the creation of a library district with dedicated funding but the political and fundraising challenges seemed insurmountable.

Merris Sumrall, CEO of The Library Foundation, saw a problem with a solution. She set her sights on mobilizing a small, nimble non-profit, and a huge community of library supporters, for an ambitious effort that some advisors and opinion-leaders said was not possible. She worked with steely determination to persuade philanthropists, politicians and opinion leaders to support stable, dedicated funding for this award-winning library system.

Merris maintained her vision, and zeal, through three challenging ballot measure campaigns over a two-year period. She envisioned ways that every library supporter could step forward and show their friends and neighbors why support for the library was crucial – even in tough economic times.

On July 1, Multnomah County Library once again opened its doors seven days a week with restored hours, stable funding and a newly created permanent library district.