Deborah Jakubs, vice provost for library affairs at Duke University, was at a dean’s retreat one Saturday in February when she fell into conversation with the university’s athletic director, Kevin White. The two agreed that they should find a way to connect their worlds.
A few weeks later, Jakubs got a phone call from athletic officials—who had been contemplating where to invest in the academic side of the university—with a proposal. What if the Blue Devils donated $1 from every ticket sold at home sporting events to a special fund for the library system?
“I couldn’t find anything not to like about it,” Jakubs said in an interview on Thursday. “I think it’s a great step forward.”
Other universities have partnerships between sports and library systems. Joe Paterno is a longtime supporter of Penn State’s libraries, one of which bears his name. Ohio State athletics recently helped to pay for a major renovation of the campus’s main library. And the Fighting Irish donate to the library system at Notre Dame (where White was athletic director before coming to Duke in 2008) whenever the football team goes to a bowl game.
But as for the ticket-sales model, Jakubs says she believes Duke is the first. Starting this fall, a dollar from every ticket purchased at home games for baseball and for men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and lacrosse games will go into a fund for the library system. Football tickets will become part of the venture in the fall of 2012.
(Athletic officials declined to give an estimate of how much money this venture could raise, saying only that the amount would be “significant.”)
The fund will be unrestricted. Jakubs says she’ll wait till there’s a critical mass before spending a dime, but that hasn’t stopped her from indulging in a little wishful thinking.
“We have all kinds of things we can use it for,” she says. “We could use it for hosting events, for expanding our digital collections. Maybe special purchases. Maybe for a position in a particular area of priority.”
The possibilities clearly please her. “I can’t think of anything better, except maybe $2″ per ticket, she says with a laugh. “But I don’t want to be greedy.”