The power of people: How donors and endowments strengthen the Libraries’ future

By Corinne Neustadter 

One of the most formidable challenges of an academic library is balancing the present and future information needs of our community. The Colorado State University Libraries needs to empower today’s students with knowledge and expertise while also anticipating the needs of tomorrow’s students. To do this, we need adaptive strategies, courageous employees and, critically, healthy endowments.  

Endowments are a powerful tool in the Libraries’ stewardship of our collections, resources and expertise. They bridge the gap between federal funding and collection needs, which enables employees to cultivate positive user experiences and better prepare for its future.  

Thanks to many years of generous donors who have strengthened the Libraries’ endowments, we steward a wealth of collections, resources and expertise that are the foundation of research and learning that will contribute to a thriving, sustainable planet and flourishing communities. 

Three endowments that have make significant impacts are the  Hiroshi and Yoshiye Tateyama Endowment, the Ruth Wright Water Resource Archive Endowment and the Sean William McGowan Library Endowment. By supporting interdisciplinary scholarship and enhancing material collection, they demonstrate the breadth of positive impacts made possible by donors. 

Hiroshi and Yoshiye Tateyama Endowment 

Insects of North America is available to any Extension office, thanks to the Tateyama Endowment.

Established in 1997, the Hiroshi and Yoshiye Tateyama Endowment honors the Tateyamas’ lifetime contributions to the local dairy industry by investing in the Libraries’ collection, enabling librarians to purchase important books and digital materials related to agriculture.  

Hiroshi and Yoshiye operated a dairy farm for over 40 years and were active members of the Eaton, Colorado, community. Hiroshi was awarded the Top Farmer of American Agriculture award and sat on the Cooperative 4-H Extension Advisory Board, proving to be a prominent figure in Colorado agriculture for decades.  

The Tateyama Endowment is a testament to their love of their community by making accessible and applicable expertise available to food producers across Colorado. 

“This endowment helps us focus on what the general community might need, especially people who aren’t researching agriculture all the time, but are actually having to do the farming firsthand,” said librarian Renae Watson, who purchases materials for the Tateyama Endowment.  “It helps us get more of those popular books and reach out to those community members more easily via Extension offices.” 

Students, researchers and extension agents can use these resources to answer questions any community member may have about their garden or houseplant, or a farmer may have about a specific agricultural concern to support their own skills. 

For community members who ask Extension agents about common houseplant problems, the Tateyama Endowment has made What’s Wrong With My Houseplant? an integral resource for them to tap into.

To date, the endowment has funded more than 100 books for communities across Colorado, spanning topics from botany to entomology.  

In the past three years, the endowment has also funded e-books to Extension offices across the state, which has increased information equity and increased the endowment’s impact.  

“We order the books as e-books as often as possible so that they can be accessed from extension offices across the state and used by others as well across campus,” Watson said. 

These e-books can be used by an unlimited number of users. That means a CSU extension agent on a farm in Sterling can read the same book at the same time as a student in an agriculture class on their laptop — and they can both quickly get the critical information they need. 

Featured Tateyama Endowment Books 

Ruth Wright Water Resources Archive Endowment 

With recent droughts in Colorado reaching historic levels, water has never been more important in the American West. The Ruth Wright Water Resources Archive Endowment supports a unique collection of primary and secondary sources that chronicle the recent history of water in our region.  

Founded in 2014, the endowment was established by Ken Wright in honor of his wife, Ruth Wright. Ruth has been a passionate leader in many water-related issues as an environmental activist and later as a representative in the Colorado State Legislature. She has also served on the boards of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Colorado Water Trust. 

The Wright Endowment supports Ruth’s passion and the archive’s unique work, which has preserved over 3 million documents that shed light on the complexities of water heritage in Colorado and the West.  

“The Water Resources Archive honors the land-grant mission of CSU by cataloging water practices, measurement, irrigation and how to best move water,” said Patty Rettig, water archivist. 

An archival photograph of a water sub-station outside of Silverton, Colorado, preserved through the Libraries’ Water Resources Archive. Image via Mountain Scholar.

With a myriad of digitally accessible materials, the archive provides resources for any student, researcher or government official looking to study water usage. 

“The archive is making unique resources available and furthering our understanding of Colorado’s and western water history … knowing historical information has bearing on our present and helps us plan for the future,” said Rettig. 

The Wright Endowment gives students hands-on opportunities to learn more about archival processing by supporting two to three student interns each year.  

 “The Wright Endowment helps us have guaranteed funding year to year, which helps us in a variety of ways by employing students and acquiring materials,” said Rettig. “It’s essential to be able to extend the work that we do.” 

Documents Available through the Libraries’ Water Resources Archive 

Sean William McGowan Library Endowment 

By strengthening the Libraries’ materials in English and creative writing, the Sean William McGowan Endowment honors the memory of Sean McGowan, a CSU student and a voracious reader.  

After learning to read at the age of four, McGowan became enamored with books and went on to double major in English and Psychology at CSU.  

“From a very young age, he enjoyed reading,” said Bobby McGowan, Sean’s father. “Even to this day, I can visualize him reading two to three books in the back of our car.” 

The McGowan Endowment has funded a multitude of books, including Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.

Since 2017, the endowment has supported the enhancement of the Libraries’ collections with both digital and print materials in the fields of English, history and creative writing to inspire a love of reading in CSU students for years to come.  

This year alone, the endowment has supported the purchase of 19 different titles available for readers at CSU – with more than 60 books purchased with the fund since 2019. According to librarian Kristy Nowak, who purchases materials with the endowment, the Libraries has been able to provide learning materials to support online learning during the pandemic. 

Creative writing, history, and English have traditionally been departments that rely primarily on print books, but with the onset of pandemic restrictions, we had an urgent need to provide more books (digitally),” Nowak said. “This fund allowed us to purchase high-priority e-books and expand access at a critical time.” 

It has also allowed the Libraries to purchase a greater variety of books instead of being limited exclusively to academic texts, including books about cultivating creative writing skills and popular narrative-based history books. “These books are popular in our collection and provide an access point to students who are just beginning their academic studies,” Nowak said.

The McGowan Endowment has also funded Playful Wisdom, which is now available to all CSU readers.

“We didn’t establish this endowment for the publicity or recognition, but to put resources in (students’) hands that otherwise wouldn’t be there,” said Bobby McGowan. “We wanted to encourage people to read in subjects they’re interested in, such as creative writing and history, and cultivate the same love Sean had.”  

Sally McGowan discussed her experience visiting the Morgan Library to see the tangible impact of their donation. Each book has a personalized nameplate dedicated to Sean’s memory funded by the endowment. 

“It’s one thing to read the list of books purchased, it’s another to hold the book and know that someone will pick it up and enjoy it. I hope the endowment can transfer Sean’s love of reading to others,” she said. 

Featured McGowan Endowment Books