While several collections that have been donated through the years to the Mexico-Audrain Library are extensive, the most popular donations remain individual books and gifts to the endowment fund.
"We are the recipients of approximately six memorial gift donations a year," Christal Bruner, assistant librarian, said. "Usually the family of the deceased knows the person was a strong supporter and patron of the library, and wants to honor that person by suggesting donations to the library."
Some of the donations are by organizations that are annual contributors to the library. "The Prairie Pine Quilt Guild members purchase copies of Jennifer Chiaverini's quilting mystery books every year," Bruner said. "And the Retired Teachers always give books in memory of deceased members. They select books about education, or Missouri history, or some other topic the teachers were interested in."
One donation which continues to multiply is the gift of Royale Energy stock from the estate of the late Jan Fisher, Mexico teacher and counselor. The library receives annual dividends which go into the endowment fund.
"We encourage donations to our endowment fund," Bruner said. "The principal remains intact, and we only use the interest to supplement our regular budget."
A program Bruner would like to see supported more is adopt-an-author. If readers have a favorite author, and would like to buy that author's latest book to donate, the library can generally purchase the book at a discounted price for the donor.
One of the most unique collections in the library is that of the John K. Livingston Model Collection. His mother, Miriam Arnold Edmonston, presented the models, which her son had collected and assembled during his lifetime, to the library's Wallace F. Feutz Quiet Reading Room.
The shelves, filled with model cars and airplanes, are favorite destinations of children. "Our little visitors like to look at the models," Bruner said. "They love to bring others in to show their favorite cars."
Edmonston was a supporter of the library who provided funds to have the room re-modeled in the early 1990s.
There are many paintings, hanging on all floors of the library, which were the gift of the late Lakenen Barnes. He was an attorney from a long-time Mexico family with an interest in contemporary art. He also collected Asian art when he served with the occupation forces in Tokyo after World War II.
Approximately one year before his death, Barnes presented a large collection of paintings to the library.
Another piece of artwork which has drawn lots of attention at the library is an engraving given by the late Mrs. Gene Beynon. Titled "The Shortening Winter's Day is Near a Close" is by Scottish artist Joseph Farquharson and hangs above the computers in the Carnegie Annex.
"We have had people ask if they could buy the engraving," Bruner said. "We have no idea of its value, but appreciate the donation of Mrs. Beynon through the years. She also left funds for our endowment fund."
Page 2 of 2 - The stained glass windows in the Carnegie Annex also were a gift, in honor of the late Carolyn Johnson, former library employee, Mexico High School librarian and former Library Board president, from her family.
Some of the donations to the library date from its early years. One of the still life paintings dating from the turn of the last century was done by Esther Houston. Miss Houston and her three sisters were known at the time as the "Four Intellectuals of Mexico." Three of the four worked at the library.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the library's endowment fund or to purchase a book to donate can contact Bruner at the library.