Iowa Public Libraries: Look No Further than the Carver Trust

Last August, the Roy J. Carver Trust donated $60,000 to the Robey Memorial Library Expansion Project in Iowa. The money brought the project within a few hundred thousands dollars goal of raising a total of $1.5 million to level a nearby house and expand library parking.

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust gives grants to public and university libraries in Iowa. Public libraries have received nearly $8.1 from the Muscatine-based trust since it was first founded in 1991. Carver favors libraries that engage with their local communities and awards them with grants of as much as $60,000. Contemporary history's sole exception has been University of Northern Iowa who received $220,000 the trust as part of a larger $2.2 gift for educational development at the university.

Carver usually funds the construction of new libraries and renovations for old ones. Less frequently, they will support youth literacy programs, and new technology purchases. Their short list of things that make libraries ineligible support recipients includes school-community partnerships and projects aimed at making libraries more accessible to the physically disabled.

Libraries may apply to renew their support from the trust every five years.

Carver enjoyed its heyday in the mid-2000s. It held around $300 million in assets during that period of time, making it the single largest philanthropy operating in the state of Iowa. Since then, they’ve reduced their holdings to around $250 million.

Despite Carver’s overall reduction in size, it seems like their subsidies for libraries are set to increase. Carver’s library support recently doubled $350,000 to $879,000, according to Foundation Center data.

Combing information from The ALA Big Book of Library Grant Money and the 2013 edition of the Foundation Center’s guide, Grants for Libraries and & Information Service, below is a map of Iowa libraries that have recently received funding from the trust: