Olga Walker: Duluth Library Foundation celebrates $1M milestone in honor of woman that started it all

Published: Feb. 26, 2023 at 5:54 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. -- Over 30 years ago, the Duluth Library Foundation began with just one donation of $25,000

Now, the foundation has surpassed over $1 million in donations.

It all started with a Duluth woman named Olga Walker.

“When she passed away in the 60s she left her entire estate to the Duluth Public Library,” said Executive Director of the Duluth Library Foundation, Erin Kreeger. “It sat in Trust for about 20 years and when it became available to the library, the library board decided to use it as the seed money for the Duluth Library Foundation. That’s where we formed over 30 years ago.”

Since 1990, the Foundation has continued to make annual donations to the library, and now the foundation ended 2022 by passing a massive milestone.

“So, starting this year we hit a level of giving $1,040,000 to the Duluth Public Library,” said Kreeger.

To celebrate this achievement, the Foundation brought the community together at the Graysolon Ballroom to Recognize leaders in the community, all in the name of the woman that started it all.

“At this year’s Olga Walker & Author event we are recognizing three really great individuals who have supported the library either through their philanthropic support or thousands of hours of volunteer time,” said Kreeger.

Their names: are June and Maurice Robinson, Pam and Tom Griffin, and The Benedictine Sisters.

Library leaders say the event shows just how impactful one woman can be to the community.

“It’s amazing to think about a $25,000 gift, which was significant, and it has grown into over $2M in the investment account,” said Carla Powers, the Duluth Public Library manager. “It’s making such a significance in the community.”

Allowing Duluth’s own library to grow into the future.

“The city of Duluth provides enough funding to cover our needs, the Library Foundation is what helps us go above and beyond,” said Powers.

Whether those donations came in the form of books, technology, or programs like the teen advisory board, it continues to leave a positive mark on all who enter the library.

“Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t be able to offer these enhancements to the Duluth Public Library that really make the library a place of community and gathering,” said Kreeger.

The Duluth Public Library is also celebrating a new spike in visitors to the library.

They said their numbers are back to what they used to be pre-pandemic.