A Home of Our Own: The DAAL Purchases 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. Last year John Eriksen, owner of the building the DAAL currently occupies (and a Dane) 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 benefits 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.
To finance the purchase, we launched a broad fundraising effort. The response has been so generous that we are able to pay enough ahead on the mortgage to allow us to pay it off before 2020. This will free us from any monthly lease or mortgage payments, 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.
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.”
If you would like to help us purchase our building and provide a secure place for the DAAL to flourish in the coming years, 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 402-426-7910. Any donations we receive over and above the purchase price of the building will be deposited into our endowment fund to help ensure our long-term financial future.