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 hopes to serve until 2024.
This effort will build on Janet’s first decade as director, during which day-to-day she managed a capital campaign that produced a brand-new $2.8 million facility built under budget and mortgage-free.
Keith left his 29-year corporate career 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. Currently, 16 are available on Amazon.
Their project’s title is THIS IS RED, which the Eldreds attribute to several sources:
RED = Reading Every Day, a library essential
RED is the color of passion, including for books
RED is a color of Christmas, a theme uniting the 20 books
RED is within “Eldred”
RED is also the title of the longest of the books—the novel Rubrum (Latin for “Red”) will was released on September 22, 2020, the Eldreds’ 30th wedding anniversary. The Red Button, a novel about Ebenezer Scrooge’s broken engagement, will release one month later. Keith hopes it will create a new tradition among actors playing Scrooge: A red button in one pocket.
Their social media (everywhere @thisisdotred) includes The Daily RED, an image captioned with an acronym spelling RED. To date, there are over 380 images. Their web address is literally THIS IS RED: www.thisis.red (not .com), where an email signup offers four of the twenty titles free.
“Janet’s initial diagnosis was in 2012, so the slow progress is fortunate,” 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 must often navigate not recalling events or visitors, and she takes careful notes of plans and decisions.
When not aiding Janet, Keith works on completing the remaining books and promoting THIS IS RED.
All project profits go to the library, with no income to the Eldreds. Their target for raising the million is 12/22/21, a symmetrical and challenging date. The total to date 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. My writing is motivated by love for her and our esteem for libraries.”
“We’re doing everything we can to leave the library as sound as possible,” Janet says.
“These are good days, if not easy,” Keith adds. “When you ache to make progress before it’s too late, everything you do matters. Our life is full of meaning.”
Keith and Janet Eldred of THIS IS RED
Previous and current library buildings
Novel released on the Eldred’s 30th wedding anniversary
Examples of The Daily RED