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Pat Witte, chairman of the Chenoa Public Library board, is shown in 2016 as the board hoped to open the doors on a new $1.1 million facility that included a community room as well as adequate space for a modern library.

BLOOMINGTON — A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has given $2,000 each to 12 rural public libraries, hoping that the donor's love of books is passed to a new generation.

The donation was made through the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.

The donor wishes to remain anonymous, believing that the attention should go to the libraries, and The Pantagraph agreed to honor the request.

But the donor, who grew up in a small town, released the following statement to the newspaper through the community foundation:

"Over the past five years or so, I've worked with Illinois Prairie Community Foundation to anonymously donate thousands of dollars to support libraries and literacy generally. I believe in the power of literacy and the importance of libraries. I spent a lot of time in the library when I was younger, and I felt empowered; I could read about anything I wanted to. Access gives everyone a choice and a chance and I would say to everyone, 'make the most of it.'"

According to Michele Evans, the foundation's grants and communications director, the libraries receiving $2,000 each are the Deer Creek District Library, Gridley Public Library District, Mackinaw District Public Library, El Paso Public Library, Mt. Hope-Funks Grove Townships Public Library District, H.A. Peine District Library in Minier, Chenoa Public Library District, Carlock Public Library, Allin Township Library in Stanford, Martin Township Public Library in Colfax, Cheney's Grove Township Public Library in Saybrook and Danvers Township Library.

"Two thousand dollars for a small township library really can go a long way," Evans said. "Libraries have a special place in communities. They are a gathering place where people can be safe and gain knowledge."

"I was astonished and amazed," Deer Creek Library Director Carlene Mathis-Kull said. "The donor requested that they wanted it to be used for books and that's exactly what we're going to do."

"It's a very large gift for us," Mathis-Kull said. The Deer Creek District Library's total operating budget is $96,000.

The donor has a donor-advised fund with the foundation, Evans said. Donor-advised funds give donors the right to say which non-profits the donors want to support. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, $1,110,443 in donor-advised funds were distributed through the foundation, Evans said.

The foundation also awards competitive grants and, several weeks ago, awarded $140,613 in grants to 77 programs in McLean, DeWitt, Livingston and Logan counties.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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