Library Announces Biggest Operations Gift Ever

The Westport Library offers many ways for users to explore and grow.

Now it can offer a lot more.

The Nancy J. Beard Foundation has just made a landmark pledge. It’s the largest to support operations in the Library’s 114-year history

The new Nancy J. Beard Lifelong Learning and Education Fund will support educational courses, lectures, special workshops and hands-on training activities. The goal is to sustain, educate and engage the community.

“The Westport Library has a strong historical identity as a center for knowledge and learning, a resource for personal development, and a place to gather for cultural and community engagement,” says executive director Bill Harmer.

“This generous gift will allow us to build on the work we’ve done and expand the reach and the scope of our programming. We are incredibly grateful to Nancy and the entire Beard family for their generosity, support, and belief in us and our mission.”

The fund will help expand Library programing and support assets like mobile technology, the Verso Studios’ video and TV media suite, and the Library’s recording studio and post-production suite.

The Nancy Beard Foundation gift will help support the Westport Library’s Verso studios. (Photo/Brendan Toller for Westport Lifestyle Magazine)

“The Westport Library is a hub for the community, a gathering place, and a place of learning and conversation,” says Beard. “We love that the Library is active in the community, open and accessible to everyone. We hope this gift allows it to stay that way and to expand its great work so it can be a beacon for the community in the years to come.”

Nancy and her husband Gene moved to Westport in 1969, and have been active members of the community.

Nancy and Gene Beard.

The Beards made their first donation to the Library 26 years ago. They’ve given regularly since then, including the 2019 transformation project.

Nancy was involved with Cub Scout, served as a teacher’s aide in elementary and middle schools, and volunteered with the Red Cross and Norwalk Hospital.

In addition to its support of the Library, the Nancy J. Beard Foundation has given to Assumption Church, Yale University, Save the Children, the Mercy Learning Center, Norwalk Hospital, and various food pantries.

Gene Beard established the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics at Duquesne University and was a significant contributor to the Eugene P. Beard Faculty Fellowship in Ethics at the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center.

“Giving back to the community has always been important to us, which is why we wanted to create this endowment fund for the Library,” Nancy Beard says.

“Westport is a special place, as is The Westport Library. We want to do everything we can to grow that sense of community, and we’ve always viewed the Library as central to that role. We’re excited to see this fund make a difference, and we’re thrilled to play even a small role in supporting the Library’s future.”

3 responses to “Library Announces Biggest Operations Gift Ever

  1. Times change. The Westport Public Library celebrated two million-dollar gifts to build/renovate its buildings and structure (Arnold Bernhard in 1986 and Joel Smilow in 1996).
    Now, in 2023, the Westport Library (its new name) can celebrate a substantial gift from Nancy Beard for its programming.
    We are fortunate to have the Library in town and to have motivated donors to support it!

  2. Gratitude for this wonderful contribution!!!

  3. Should solve costs of installation or storage of mural!

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