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Marine Community Library Has a New Forever Fund

Updated: Apr 15

Nearly a quarter of a century after Elizabeth Jordan’s death, her bequest will have a permanent home at St. Croix Valley Foundation (SCVF), where it will directly benefit Marine Community Library forever.

Above: Former Marine Library Association President Jim Maher welcomes community members to a screening of 2024 Oscar-nominated documentary shorts, hosted by Marine Community Library. Community members gather during a full-house event. Volunteer Gayle Knudson, who curated the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts event, provides background on each nominated film.

Jordan was an avid supporter of Marine Community Library, a small branch of the Washington County Library system. Jordan died in 2000, leaving a generous bequest of $227,000 to Washington County. The funds were to be used “specifically for the Marine on St. Croix Library.”  


Washington County closed the Marine Community Library in 2011 after a series of budget cuts. By then, the value of Elizabeth Jordan’s bequest had grown, but uncertainty remained about how those funds could be utilized following the branch closure.


“Community citizenship organized and said, ‘Okay, this is really important to our town, our community, to have this library base, so let's do it ourselves.’ They organized the Marine Library Association that is completely volunteer run and donor funded,” said Lynn Bjorkman, who currently serves as Marine Library Association (MARLA) president.


Marine Community Library continues as a volunteer-run organization with a passionate, engaged volunteer base and committed board of directors. Together, volunteers and the board worked with Washington County and SCVF to successfully transfer the Jordan Bequest.


“We’re doing cartwheels,” Bjorkman said about the newly established Marine Community Library Jordan Bequest Fund at SCVF.

The Jordan Bequest Fund was established as an endowment - a permanent fund that will be invested for long-term growth. The endowment will allow Marine Community Library to have a source of perpetual income over time, while also covering investment expenses and planning for inflation.

“You realize how powerful the Jordan Bequest can become if we're not drawing on principal, and we use earnings to subsidize the operating fund only,” said Bjorkman, aptly describing the power of endowment funds.


Marine Community Library in its current form has become an important asset not just for Marine on St. Croix, but also for Scandia, May Township, and Washington County at large. Its collection, Bjorkman says, is current and updated constantly, and programming for children and adults of all ages draws hundreds of participants to the library annually.


Recently, on a chilly evening in March, a full house gathered for Marine Community Library’s Oscar Night – featuring a screening of Oscar-nominated short documentary films at the Village Hall. Like all events hosted by Marine Community Library, the evening was organized and staffed completely by volunteers.


“This is what community is,” said Bjorkman, describing Oscar Night. “This is people setting up additional chairs. This is people bringing baked goods. This is conversations and people waving, and leaning over each other to be heard, and it just warms my heart.”

Ultimately, Bjorkman credits the cooperation of the City of Marine, Washington County, and the Washington County Library system for the successful transition of the Jordan Bequest. SCVF will now handle all administrative duties associated with the fund, which Bjorkman hopes could include future donations.

“I believe that by having an endowment that allows people to give a considerable gift where we can be drawing income and keep earning on that gift is compelling,” said Bjorkman, “and it allows us to think about the library as having a long-term lifetime. It’s going to go on and on.”

St. Croix Valley Foundation President and CEO Heather Logelin agrees.

“We are so grateful to Marine Community Library for trusting us to steward the Jordan Bequest,” said Logelin. “We take donors’ wishes to heart and we will make sure that Elizabeth Jordan’s vision for her gift to the library is fully realized. Her legacy will support Marine Community Library forever.”


Library volunteers are currently deep into planning for summer events, including an art and science camp for kids, musical programming for families, author talks, and more.


“Now that the Jordan Bequest is saved in a formal endowment fund, other people can leave gifts and their legacy gifts are going to matter,” said Bjorkman. “As they plan to support the library in the future, they really are being a part of that ongoing story.”


What a perfectly fitting way for Elizabeth Jordan’s legacy to live on.


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