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Ann Wolff, one of the founding members of the Stillwater Public Library Foundation, announced her retirement from the board in January. (Submitted photo)

Some say that volunteers help make the world go around. That is certainly the case in the world of the Stillwater Public Library, where volunteers spend thousands of hours each year making sure it operates to the peak of its ability.

Ann Wolff, former French educator and one of the founding members of the Stillwater Public Library Foundation, has gone well beyond typical expectations of a volunteer, according to former Library Director Lynne Bertalmio.

“She almost made the library her second career,” Bertalmio said. “She has made a huge effort to see that the foundation flourished, as well as the library.”

Wolff’s time served with the library helps tell a larger story of the continued success and community support of the Stillwater Library. She first got involved through the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, a non-profit organization founded in 1999 to support the library by holding book sales and helping organize other events and programs.

Through her involvement with Friends, Wolff said her eyes were opened as to how much money and effort is required for a library to serve the community well. In order to pay for the library’s expansion that more than tripled its size in 2006, Friends and the library’s board of trustees organized a capital campaign that raised between $5 and $6 million in private funds, in addition to the city’s contribution.

The expansion marked the third time in the library’s history that it received a major renovation since it was built from Andrew Carnegie funds in 1902. This newest addition included a parking ramp, large lower level and upper level that holds community space, an information center, historical materials and of course, thousands of books.

After the addition, Wolff and those who were involved with the library wanted to organize a foundation that would continue to advocate for it.

“We decided at that point that it was time for a foundation where there is really strategic, long-term fundraising,” Wolff said. “And I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be a part of the foundation’s board.”

Since the foundation’s forming in 2007, the library has been able to expand its Sunday hours, organize hundreds of community events and purchase many materials it could not otherwise afford. The foundation also hires a part-time volunteer coordinator and a part-time wedding and special events coordinator.

“They have been a marvelous help to the library as well as the community,” Bertalmio said. “Ann has worked so hard and has achieved so much for the foundation.”

Since the foundation started, Wolff has seen its fundraising success increase dramatically. In 2019 alone, the organization granted the library $113,000 while building up an endowment of $90,000.

Wolff said that she has been overwhelmed by the generosity of donors to the foundation. She expressed the foundation’s gratitude by handwriting thank you letters to donors – something that she had been doing since she first started volunteering.

“I enjoyed writing the thank you letters because I feel it really connected me to donors,” Wolff said. “People who donate to the library feel as though they are changing the library, and in turn changing the community.”

Bertalmio said that she is thankful for Wolff’s many years of “tireless, imaginative and dedicated” service to the library.

“We were so fortunate that she decided to invest her energy at the library,” Bertalmio said. “It would have been quite a different situation had she not been there for the foundation since day one, pushing the organization forward.”

After officially retiring in January, Wolff believes that the library is in a great position to continue serving the community.

“Our library is an incredible resource, and there isn’t any reason why the Stillwater Public Library can’t be as outstanding as any other because we have such a generous community,” Wolff said.

Contact Kevin Ott at kevin.ott@ecm-inc.com

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