A reading family helps boost Stillwater Public Library Centennial fundraising goals 

The Stillwater Public Library received a Centennial donation in the memory of Colonel and Mrs. Albert W. Malone who worked to instill a love of reading and libraries in their family.

Story provided by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library (SPL) has even more to celebrate during its 2023 Centennial with a $10,000 donation from Sharon Malone of Stillwater. Malone’s gift, made in honor of her parents, Colonel and Mrs. Albert W. Malone, has been added to the Stillwater Public Library Trust, which serves as the organization’s endowment to provide funding services and resources that the library cannot fund through its general budget. 

“The library and the Trust are incredibly grateful for Sharon’s gift,” said Stacy DeLano, library director. “Throughout the year, our Centennial donors, big or small, are helping us build the library endowment so that we can ensure that the Stillwater community receives the resources and services upon which it relies well into the library’s second century.”

According to Malone, examples set by her parents were a primary factor in her decision to make the donation.

“My dad and mom were two of the smartest people I’ve ever known, and I’m sure it’s partly because they were even more avid readers than I,” Malone said. “My earliest memories don’t include a time when we hadn’t made a trip to the library that week. They were devoted to our family, and their lives were an example for us. I don’t think I could ever measure how much pleasure we’ve all gained from library books and reading.”

Her parents’ love of reading was something Malone passed on to her own children after a bit of encouragement from her mother.

“When my oldest child was just a few months old, I flew with her to visit my folks,” Malone recalled. “I was sitting on a sofa with my daughter on my lap, visiting with my mom. All of a sudden, she said, ‘Hold on just a minute.’ She left the room and came back in with a small book. ‘Here. Start reading to her.’ ‘Mother,’ I laughed, ‘she’s a baby. She won’t understand a word of it!’  Mother wasn’t laughing. ‘She’ll hear the rhythm and cadence of your voice. She’ll become accustomed to sitting in your lap hearing your voice. Now start reading,’ she admonished. And I did.”

Nowadays, Malone is busy making sure her grandchildren gain a similar joy of reading. In that vein, Malone provided an additional $5,000 in her parents’ names to allow the children’s department to create a collection of Vox Books.

“Vox Books are storybooks that include both audio and text,” explained Elizabeth Murray, children’s services supervisor. “We are so glad to have these available for children because they provide a sense of autonomy and confidence and are an important tool for helping children move to reading on their own.”

This explanation tracks with Malone’s experience.

“My three-year-old grandson loves listening to his stories all by himself sometimes,” Malone said. “He especially likes the fact that if his mommy and daddy and grandma aren’t able to come read to him right away, he can start without us.”

According to DeLano, the Vox books have been a big hit, and she encourages families to visit the library for more resources that will help their children love to read. 

“Sharon and her parents exemplify one of the many truths we have learned as we have explored what has made this library successful over a hundred years,” DeLano said. “Reading families pass on their love of reading and their appreciation of what the library provides generation after generation.”

DeLano hopes to continue building the library endowment throughout the Centennial.

“The staff and Trust board members are focusing on building the Trust so that we can tackle even bigger and more impactful projects in the coming years,” DeLano said. “Once the Trust has grown, the yearly distribution the library receives will allow us to fulfill many of the dreams we have for the community.”

Malone is glad she is part of that goal. 

“I know the library will have to work hard to keep up with newer technology,” Malone said. “And I also know that it will take money to do that. Lots and lots of money!! I hope I’ll be able to give more, and I hope that many, many others will help in whatever way they can. Reading opens the world of learning to anyone who wants it, and we all want our nation to be able to compete in this global community. I hope we can keep such a terrific library as ours well-funded for many years.”

The library has two upcoming Centennial fundraisers, including a Retro Book Fair in September and a Haunted Library in October. To become a Centennial donor, please contact the library’s business office at (405) 372-3633 x8100 or stacy.delano@stillwater.org, or send a check payable to the Stillwater Public Library Trust to Stillwater Public Library, 1107 S. Duck St., Stillwater OK, 74074. Donating online is available by visiting stillwaterok.gov/SPL100.php. The Friends of the Library are matching Centennial-year donations up to a total of $25,000.