WLF History & Milestones

History of the Winnipeg Library Foundation

In the mid-1990s, the City undertook a Strategic Planning process that produced a long range plan for the library. The “Forward Thinking” Report was guided by a Steering Committee that included a broad range of Winnipeg citizens concerned about the future of libraries in the city; it included members of the Public Library Board, community representatives, city councillors, and other individuals, many of whom became members of the Winnipeg Library Foundation.

The Foundation was created by the Winnipeg Public Library Board as an entity separate from itself with the mandate of serving the Winnipeg Public Library through advocacy, fundraising and community awareness initiatives.  Mr. Abe Anhang gathered like-minded individuals interested in furthering the growth of the library system in Winnipeg, and approached Mrs. Dee Buchwald to join him as Co-Chair of the of the newly formed Winnipeg Library Foundation. Together, they recruited the members of the Foundation board.  The Winnipeg Public Library Board’s support for the Foundation continues to this day in the form of an annual operating grant.

Following  a consultative process that resulted in the support of all three levels of government, the Foundation entered into an intensive capital campaign to raise funds to expand and renew the Centennial Library: the renewal encompassed the building itself, the collection, furnishings, and  technological capacity.  The Opening Doors, Opening Minds Campaign was led by Capital Campaign Chair Bob Silver.   In addition to raising significant financial support from the three levels of government, the campaign successfully engaged the generosity of major donors, both local and national.  Many corporations, foundations, business and community leaders and citizens of Winnipeg contributed to the renewal of the Millennium Library with great generosity that reflected their strong belief in the value of  public libraries to the social, economic and cultural  well-being of communities.

This enthusiastic support for the capital campaign was matched in a community campaign launched early in 2003, led by  Co-Chairs Ms. Paula  Mitchell and Mrs. Annitta Stenning.  The Millennium Library Community Campaign succeeded in attracting the interest and generous financial support of many small and medium sized local businesses; cultural organizations; teachers, students, schools and educational organaizations and associations;  and citizens from every area of the city and from every demographic.  In both campaigns, the Foundation was excited and grateful to come to know the value placed on the public library by citizens.

In its entirety, the campaign raised $21 million.

Funds raised: $21,000,000

  • Government of Canada   $ 3,000,000
  • Province of Manitoba   $ 3,000,000
  • City of Winnipeg   $ 8,000,000
  • Community gifts   $ 7,000,000