Librarian’s dementia inspires bucket-list moonshot
Janet Eldred and her husband Keith are responding to her early-stage dementia by aiming to raise $1 million for their public library while she can still enjoy the effort and contribute. Janet became director of Hollidaysburg Area Public Library in Pennsylvania in 2004 and aims to serve until 2024, if she is able.
This effort will build on Janet’s first decade on the job, during which day-to-day she managed a capital campaign that led to a brand-new $2.8 million facility built under budget and mortgage-free.
Keith left his corporate career of 29 years to combine his dream with Janet’s. They want to raise the million by donating all profits from a special line of books that Keith created, combined with direct contributions to the library. All 20 of these books will debut in 2020. As of July 1, fifteen are available on Amazon under Keith’s name.
The title for their project is This is RED, which the Eldreds attribute to several sources:
RED = Reading Every Day, which is core to libraries
RED is the color of passion, including love for books
RED is a color of Christmas, a theme uniting the 20 books
RED is the last half of their last name
RED is also the title of the longest of the books—the novel Rubrum (Latin for “Red”) to be released September 22, 2020, the Eldreds’ 30th wedding anniversary.
RED makes its way into their social media in the form of The Daily RED, an image captioned with an acronym spelling RED. Everywhere, they are @thisisdotred. Their web address is literally THIS IS RED: www.thisis.red (not .com), where an email signup offers four of the THIS IS RED titles free.
“Janet’s initial diagnosis was in 2012, so we feel fortunate that it is progressing slowly,” Keith says. Janet continues to run the Library along with the accommodating staff and Board of Directors … “and lots of sticky note reminders!” she says. She often has to work around failing to recall events or visitors and takes careful notes of plans and decisions.
Keith aids Janet as needed, but he spends most of his time completing the remaining books and promoting THIS IS RED.
All profits from the project go to the library, with no income to the Eldreds. Their target to raise the million is 12/22/21, a symmetrical and challenging date. The total as of July 1, 2020, is $6,329.32.
“Aside from raising our sons,” Keith says, “Janet and I have done nothing more important than THIS IS RED. It’s a shared calling and destiny. I would not be pursuing my passion for writing this vigorously unless motivated by love for her and our mutual esteem for libraries.”
“We’re doing everything we can,” Janet says, “I just want to leave the library as sound as possible.”
“These are good days, if not easy days,” Keith adds. “When you ache to make progress before it’s too late, everything you do matters. Our life could not be more full of meaning.”
Keith and Janet Eldred of THIS IS RED
Previous and current library buildings
Examples of The Daily RED