2014: THE YEAR THAT WAS
2014 was a momentous year for the Danish American Archive and Library. We not only made decisions about finding a permanent home for the Archive, but also those regarding our day-to-day operations, our relationships with other institutions, fundraising initiatives and outreach to the Danish American community at large.
Permanent Home. Probably the biggest issue we took on in 2014 was finding a permanent home for the DAAL. Although the DAAL has done remarkably well operating independently since leaving the safety net of Dana College in 2010, we know this success can’t continue long term without developing an affiliation with another organization. After considering the options available to us, the board of directors decided to accept the offer from the City of Blair and the Blair City Library to become a part of the library’s planned building project. Although this would not provide us with continuing support from the city, the mortgage payments on the proposed 40-year loan would be substantially less than the lease payments we have currently. Negotiations with the city are continuing to try to produce a firm agreement that is acceptable and possible for all parties concerned.
Day-to-Day Operations. Until now, Executive Director Jill Hennick has been the only paid staff member at the DAAL. Everything else that happened came about from the efforts of volunteers. During 2014, we were able to include in the budget funds to hire two part-time staff members—Library Assistant Michael Hennick and Financial Assistant Kate Garrett. Michael’s main focus has been on assisting Library Director Sharon Jensen with the tremendous job of sorting and cataloging the roughly 12,000 books in the collection. But more than that, at his own initiative, Michael has sorted and made right aspects of the Archive that have needed it since we were still at Dana College. He has made a huge difference to the overall operation of the DAAL. Kate Garrett started as a summer volunteer while she was still in high school and so impressed us with her efficiency and work ethic that we hired her as an accounting intern the summer of 2013 and as an accounting assistant last summer. Kate is now a freshman at The Ohio State University, but came in to work when she was home for Christmas break, and we hope we’ll have her this summer as well.
Relationships with Other Institutions. Because the community cooperation agreement with the University of Nebraska at Omaha has been so successful, we have pursued similar agreements with other institutions with compatible missions. In 2013 we signed a similar agreement with Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, the sole remaining U.S. college founded by Danish immigrants, and with the Museum of Danish America (MoDA) located in Elk Horn, Iowa. The DAAL’s further cooperation with MoDA came in the form of an agreement between the boards of both institutions to jointly hire Paul Johnson as a planned giving consultant. In this capacity, Paul contacts donors of both the DAAL and MoDA to advise them on how to set up estate gifts.