In just over a year, supporters of the states Lincoln Collection have raised more than half the money needed to protect and share the $20 million collection of memorabilia.
Ian Rolland, who led the Indiana coalition that worked to keep the vast collection in the state, gave a financial update to the Allen County Public Librarys board of trustees Thursday.
The photos, letters and documents are housed at the downtown Fort Wayne library and the physical artifacts are housed by the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. The Lincoln Financial Foundation, which previously owned the collection, announced in December 2008 that the collection would remain in Indiana.
Rolland, retired CEO of Lincoln National Corp., said the Friends of the Lincoln Collection had planned to raise $12.5 million. He said it was enough to pay for the first three years worth of operating costs and to create an endowment that would pay to maintain, exhibit and provide programming related to the documents at the library and the artifacts at the state museum.
To date, $7.3 million has been raised through pledges and immediate cash contributions. An additional $1.5 million could come in from possible donors, Rolland said.
The majority of the donations have come from northeast Indiana residents, corporations and foundations. Fundraising is just beginning in Indianapolis, he told the library board.
Since the announcement that Indiana would keep the collection, the state museum has brought in a new director and new development staff, which has delayed fundraising efforts in central Indiana. The states ever-shrinking budget has also hindered efforts there, he said.
But geography has also affected where donations have come from, Rolland said.
We had a bit of advantage, he said. People in this part of the state cared about the collection.
The Lincoln Musuem, which was on on East Berry Street in the Renaissance Square building, closed in 2008 and had housed the full collection for decades.
So far, more than $1 million has been spent on the collection for the library, the state museum and some fundraising efforts, Rolland said.
Fundraising has provided enough to pay for the first three years of operations. The size of the endowment could shrink for future work if more donations dont come in, he said.
The original budget for the collection will be reviewed and possibly tweaked in case the additional $5 million doesnt come in.
But Rolland said hes hopeful that goal will be reached and that enough money will be raised to allow for future acquisitions, which would allow the collection to expand.
This has got to happen with the people in Indy and the state museum, he said. Theyve got a huge fertile ground in Indy.
Rolland thanked the board for its forward thinking by expanding the main library downtown – part of an $84 million property taxpayer-backed project. He said the quality of the facility and the diversity of those using the library played a big role in convincing the Lincoln Financial Foundation that Indiana should keep the collection.
The foundations East Coast consultant was in awe that a Midwest community could provide such a library, he said.
He said he learned from the foundation that other proposals, even those from the Smithsonian and Gettysburg, didnt come close to competing with the Indiana coalitions plan.
When it was announced the collection would remain in the state, foundation officials said the librarys plans to digitize the many documents, letters and news clippings helped push the Indiana proposal ahead of the others.
The library has already digitized and posted 4,000 Lincoln-related items on its website, Rolland said.