What is the Library Foundation?

The Gail Borden Public Library Foundation supports and celebrates the library’s quest to enhance literacy in this community and to sustain a world-class library district.  Last year, a staggering 1.2 million people visited the Library and checked out more than 2.3 million items.  This would not be possible without dedicated supporters. Strong libraries strengthen communities. Your support of the Gail Borden Public Library Foundation makes a tangible difference for everyone who uses our Library’s extraordinary services and resources.

We support reading initiatives, engaging exhibits that have changed lives, capitol projects and more.  The Foundation is a nonprofit organization and donations are tax exempt.

This Library Started as a Gift

Library service in this community was built on a donation. Over 100 years ago, Samuel and Alfred Church gave the gift of a building to the citizens of Elgin Township as a new home for its library. They specified only that the library thereafter be known as the Gail Borden Public Library, in honor of their stepfather, Gail Borden.

The Gail Borden Public Library has been a vibrant educational and cultural institution, providing quality services, programs and collections.  By engaging and enriching the lives of readers of all ages, from Baby Rhyme Time for infants to computer classes for seniors, the library has been a leader in transforming lives. As new fields of knowledge and formats develop and as needs change, the library board and staff work to ensure that community needs are met.  

In 1993, the Gail Borden Public Library Foundation was established to provide resources and financial support to extend and improve library services and collections.  Through their efforts, the library’s new building, which opened in 2003, was enhanced with a terrazzo floor, a copper roof and a fireplace.   Other Foundation endeavors include purchase of a grand piano, providing a quality instrument for a concert series and other special events; support for museum-quality exhibits to stimulate the mind and encourage reading for all ages; and fundraising for the tile mural to enhance the beauty of the Rakow Branch Library.



Who Manages the Gail Borden Public Library Foundation?

The Library Foundation is guided by a Board of Directors comprised of public members at large and two of the trustees of the Gail Borden Public Library. Inquiries regarding the Foundation may be made to the Library, or any of the Foundation Directors listed below. Send an e-mail inquiry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Mike 100

Mike Lee






 Libby Hoeft
Vice President


Paul Larson

Paul Larson


Photo of Jerry Turnquist

Jerry Turnquist



Photo of Jo Ann Armenta Jo Ann Armenta

  Harry Blizzard Harry Blizzard
Karen Fox


garcia amanda Amanda Garcia

Larry Jones

Larry Jones
Photo of Susan Moylan

Susan N. Moylan 



Cherie Murphy

  bluesquare Leo Nelson  
Karen Schock Karen Schock


John Shales






Mike Alft
Director Emeritus

From the time he made Elgin his home in 1950, E.C. (Mike) Alft has made significant contributions. A teacher, constant reader, mayor and local historian, he has written more than a dozen books and booklets – one a history of Gail Borden Library.  Much of his life has been spent in libraries:  he is recognized as an ever-present user of Gail Borden Library, having spent nearly sixty years gleaning facts, trivia and curiosities from books and microfilm.

As a library trustee, Mike was a participant in the planning for the present building and its branch. A staunch supporter of the Freedom to Read and the Library Bill of Rights, he led board discussions when community members questioned particular materials.   Who better to defend intellectual freedom than one who has logged the more than 1800 books he has read since the age of 15.  These are chiefly works on history, economics, government and classic literature.  Not included in the list are the “light” reading titles he has consumed.

Serving from 2001 through 2010 as a Foundation Director, Mike was active in garnering the support needed to enhance the building.  He also supported efforts which led to numerous projects, including the groundbreaking exhibits, GIANTS, African Dinosaurs Created by Project Exploration. and SPACE:  Dare to Dream.

Never idle, he continues to offer support with workshops to train newly minted trustees and programs on Elgin’s rich history as well as to portray the library namesake, dairyman Gail Borden.  In 2010, Mike was named an Illinois Library Luminary, in recognition of his outstanding voice in the library community.


Past Presidents of the Foundation:

  • Al Kirkland, Jr.

  • Chuck Cassell

  • Harry Blizzard

  • Marlene Shales

  • Libby Hoeft

  • Jo Ann Armenta