Library receives large donation from local sisters

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 6, 2013

ROCHESTER — With more than 2,000 visitors a day for more than 20 years, Rochester Hills Public Library Director Christine Lind Hage said the library’s floors and furniture really take a beating.

“Our carpet is 20 years old — I mean, it’s really in bad shape,” she said. “We have taken carpet out of staff areas that was not in great shape, but was better than what was worn out in the public areas, so we have one part of our circulation room that’s walking on concrete and there is a hole in the children’s room carpet that we have placed a bookcase over. We’re at the end of the road. Fifteen years is a good expectation for the life of carpet, and we’ve had 20.”

The Library Board recently approved the purchase of new carpet, which will be paid for, in part, thanks to a $204,818 gift from the estate of sisters and former Rochester Hills residents Mary and Lenore Cavanagh. Once the new carpet is in place, possibly as early as this summer, the library will also use a portion of the gift to re-upholster furniture.

“The Cavanaugh sisters valued the service the library offers the community and wanted to make a major contribution to the work of the Library,” Library Board President Robert Bonam said in a statement.

The gift, which Hage said was unexpected, was received two weeks ago.

“We didn’t know we were in their will, so it was out of the blue. … It was a pleasant surprise,” she said. “Don’t you just love to open mail like that?”

The library has a long history of receiving significant gifts in times of need, according to Hage. In 1950, she said $100,000 left by Eva Woodward Parker was used to build the first brick library at 210 West University, and an addition was added to the library in 1962, thanks to a grant from the Grace Curry Estate.

In 2005, just as the library was about to dip into savings for a new $170,000 computer system to check books in and out, the Alice Horter Estate gave the library $216,000.

And, in 2012, the Charles and Doris Edie estate gave the library $100,000, which was used to purchase stock, staff and maintain an early literacy bookmobile for the library.

“We have 64,000 card holders … and a lot of people come at least weekly, if not a couple times a week,” Hage noted. “The library is an important part of their lives, and whether we know them or not, it’s really nice when they remember the library in their estates.”

For more information on how to contribute to the library, visit