$3 Million and a New Name for Downtown Library
“It’s a really exciting day for the library and the community,” said John Savage, president of the Aurora Public Library Board of Directors.
Savage announced today that the Richard and Gina Santori Charitable Foundation is making a donation of $3 million to the Aurora Public Library Foundation to establish a technology endowment.
Savage said the donation goes along with the library’s two main commitments for the new library: providing an amazing, flexible space that can adapt and change, and offering state-of-the-art technology.
He added that the endowment will “ensure that our residents today and in the future have the most cutting edge technology.”
Gina Santori, of Lisle, listened as Savage spoke about the Santori’s many accomplishments. Her late husband, Richard, owned several auto dealerships in and around Aurora. Gina is a physician and surgeon on staff at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora; she practices only on a pro bono basis caring for diabetic and renal patients.
Due to the large nature of the donation, the library is being renamed to the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora. The new name was depicted on a rendering projected on an antiquated screen propped behind the speakers on a plastic folding table.
“It’s an amazing thing to see this community grow and evolve and become better,” said Mayor Tom Weisner. He added that the gift will “enable our young people to be at the forefront and to succeed in life.”
“It’s a gift to the future. It will pay dividends for generations to come. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Christmas came a little early,” Weisner said.
On behalf of the teen advisory board, T’Prinn Ingram, a student at West Aurora High School, spoke about once being homeless and seeking refuge in the library.
“We came here. It was this magical place as a kid,” Ingram said of the access to books and other educational materials at the Main Library. “(The new library) is going to be reaching everyone. I just know that this new library is going to be amazing,” she said.
Before introducing Gina, a longtime friend of the couple’s, Dick Hawks, spoke of Richard’s and Gina’s commitment to those that are less fortunate. “(Richard) was always the kindest, gentlest, and most philanthropic person you’ll ever meet,” he said.
Gina is a proven renaissance woman with successes in Karate, ice skating, ballroom dancing, and flying. She established the charitable foundation in memory and honor of her late husband to support educational opportunities at The Santori School in Prey Veng, Cambodia, and for scholarships for college and university candidates in the United States in the field of aviation, medicine, and science.
“Dr. Santori is truly one of the most kind and inspiring people I have ever met, said Eva Luckinbill, executive director of the Aurora Public Library.
Gina said that she and her late husband always valued education. “It’s the little things we take for granted,” she said. Santori, quoting Richard, added, “You can go to this place and get an education for no money.”
“This new library will help so many with this new LIFE (Learning in an Informal and Fun Environment) Center. I think it is going to be transforming and turn Aurora around,” she said.
According to a library press release, the endowment will ensure that the downtown library and its branches will have the financial ability to provide the latest technology into the future. Services throughout the library system will be enhanced, including the new library’s Teen Center, which will be able to provide tablets, educational software, music and broadcasting equipment and other emerging devices that will inspire creativity and give teens the tools they need to be successful in school and life.
The LIFE (Learning in an Informal and Fun Environment) Development Center will be able to provide technology tools to partner with educational institutions to teach about careers in science, math and more in an interactive way.
Every service area within the new library will be improved and patrons at each library location will benefit from laptops, research databases and other modern and advanced technologies.
After receiving a round of applause from city and library officials, Santori took to the microphone again and added, “I will continue to support the library generously.”