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Gerber/Hart looks back at 2014, receives major grant
by Matt Simonette

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Officials of Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., detailed their work streamlining the library's holdings, as well as a major donation, at their semi-annual meeting Dec. 11.

Board President Carrie Barnett, who earlier in the evening was re-elected to serve for another year, said, "I don't believe the traction we're getting."

During 2014, all of Gerber/Hart's holdings were moved to its main location on Clark Street, and staff and volunteers were able to do at least a preliminary assessment of their collections. Some excess holdings were donated to the nonprofit Open Books nonprofit literary organization.

A key goal in the upcoming months is gaining "more intellectual control" of the holdings, said administrator Lucas McKeever, so all staff could easily access information about the collection for researchers and patrons. That way, he added, "If one person isn't here, the whole organization doesn't shut down."

The library will also be open to the public Friday afternoons beginning Jan. 2, from 1-7 p.m., adding to the previous nine hours a week the facility was open to the public.

According to McKeever, Gerber/Hart had received 362 visitors, who logged 164 research hours, in 2014. After the meeting, he led tours of the library's archives and special collection rooms, which contain new shelving that the library acquired thanks to a grant from the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board ( ISHRAB ).

Gerber/Hart is still operating in the red, according to Barnett, who said that the library had total income of $106,311 and expenses of $131,032. Just over $100,000 of the library's income came from public support. During the meeting, however, Barnett announced that they had received a $100,000 grant from the Norman L. Sandfield Charitable Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. Sandfield is a Gerber/Hart board member.

"I am so pleased to be able to give this gift to Gerber/Hart," said Sandfield. "All of the diverse elements of our community have a history worth saving, and worth telling and retelling. We need to be sure these elements are protected and available for decades to come. I consider this as part of a challenge to other good friends of Gerber/Hart to step up, donate and volunteer: Once you come and see what we have, I know that you will be coming back and bringing your friends."

Barnett added, "We're so grateful to Norman. He's been with us every day since we since we've-opened, sharing his time and energy. His gift will ensure that we'll be here for many more days and years to come."

Gerber/Hart received other donations from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Kicking Assets Fund of the Tides Foundation and Tawani Foundation, as well as Northern Trust Bank, Mulryan and York and other community members.

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