Robert L. McNeil created the Dorothy Rue McNeil Library Enrichment Fund in honor of his wife, Dorothy McNeil. Robert and Dorothy grew up during the Great Depression when family resources were severely limited. They each learned that public libraries were treasure troves of knowledge and inspiration.
Dorothy McNeil found a world globe in her public library as a child. She remembered turning it and looking at all the places on it. To her, it symbolized that the library was her key to the whole world.
Robert McNeil’s work as a forest ranger took them to many towns throughout Washington and Oregon. In each place, they relied on public libraries for information, recreational reading, and resources for their son Tim. They particularly enjoyed one town, where the library was the “living room of the community”. This library offered Sunday afternoon music concerts in addition to all of its other services.
When Tim McNeil’s passion for renovating old houses brought the whole family to the South Park Neighborhood, their one frustration was the lack of a neighborhood branch library. That omission was corrected with the opening of the South Park Library in 2006.
Dorothy McNeil did not live to see the library completed. One of her last wishes was for a globe for the new library, so that more children could see and feel the world opening up for them.
For generations, the South Park neighborhood has been home to immigrant families from many countries. Public libraries are new to most of them, so programs and multilingual materials are needed to show them how the library can help to enrich their lives.
The McNeil Family hopes that this endowment will allow the South Park Library to continue and enhance the fine services and programs that it has provided since it opened.