A HOME OF OUR OWN

posted June 6, 2015, 4:45 PM by

The DAAL Board of Directors Votes to Purchase Our Current Building

Once in a while in the life of an organization, an offer comes along that’s just too good to pass up, and this is one of those times for the Danish American Archive and Library.  John Eriksen, owner of the building the DAAL currently occupies (and a Dane), has agreed to sell the building to us at a price that will allow us to thrive in it for years to come.

“Purchasing our own building will benefit us in so many ways,” says Executive Director Jill Hennick.  “From the location on the main street of Blair to the way the interior is arranged, this building has proved to be a real asset for us.”  The DAAL moved into the building located at 1738 Washington Street in October of 2010, after evacuating from the Dana College library before the college closed for good the previous July.  Since moving in, volunteers have devoted uncountable hours installing and populating shelves and file cabinets, creating work spaces, adding newly acquired collections, creating exhibits, hosting Danish American- and Dana College-related gatherings and welcoming researchers and other visitors.  It took a full year and a half to get the majority of the boxes we brought out of Dana unpacked and the materials organized.

The long-term future of the DAAL has always been a concern for the board of directors.  More than two years ago the board appointed a futures committee to look into our options.  At that time, we were approached by Blair Public Library Director Gayle Roberts with a proposal that we become part of a joint building project on land that the city owns.  Preliminary figures showed that it would be to the DAAL’s advantage to join in such a plan.  Unfortunately as time passed, the costs rose and the amount of space we could afford became unworkable for us.  When the opportunity to buy our current building arose, we felt we had to withdraw from the Blair library project and take advantage of an option that is so much healthier for our long-term prospects.

The members of the board and the volunteers are now looking toward a bright future for the DAAL.  The Capital Campaign Committee that had begun raising funds for the library building project are now contacting donors who had pledged to that effort to see if they will redirect their donations to the purchase price of the current building.  A broader fundraising effort will be launched shortly, and if all goes as planned, we hope to raise enough for the whole purchase price up front, freeing us from any mortgage payments and allowing us to direct our efforts toward improving and advancing the preservation of our priceless documents and books and making them available to the public.  Plans are in place to increase the DAAL’s visibility through exhibits and cooperative efforts with other institutions such as the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa, as well as several universities.

DAAL President Gary Madsen says, “Having passed this milestone, I believe the DAAL will continue to expand and be an asset to not only the city of Blair, but also the Danish American community throughout the country.”

Our efforts now are directed toward raising the funding to purchase our building, allowing us to provide a secure place for the DAAL to flourish in the coming years, and toward increasing our endowment to ensure our long-term financial future.  To help us with either effort, simply send your donation to the Danish American Archive and Library, 1738 Washington Street, Blair, NE  68008.  Or you can donate by credit card by calling Jill Hennick at 402–426–2695.