Contributed by Mara Houdyshell
“Last night, I think I may have dreamed about dragons and polar bears draping themselves over books.” These are the words of Patricia Fogarty as she recalled her recent visit to the Sharon Fogarty Young Readers’ Collection at the Oviatt Library. This valuable collection was made possible by her family’s endowment, established in memory of her sister, Sharon. Through the generosity of the Fogarty family, their endowment ensures that Sharon’s love of books and reading will inspire a similar appreciation in others. This is just one example of the type of generosity which ensures that funds will always be available for the purchase of books and materials.
Sharon loved children’s literature and understood that some of the best stories lay hidden between a book’s covers, and with those stories, come opportunities – opportunities to explore, believe, imagine, and learn. They allow the reader to become a part of the words and illustrations as they dance across the page. Sharon is remembered, not only for her passion for children’s literature and its illustrations, but also for her love of sharing them with others, particularly with her nieces and nephews, David, Erin, Eileen, and Erik, as they grew. Every Christmas, each received three books with inscriptions from their Aunt Sharon. So great was the anticipation of these books that, over the years, it became a family tradition to open Sharon’s gifts first. Those children, now adults, hold cherished memories of their Aunt “Do” (their nickname for Sharon, pronounced “Doe”). Few things gave Sharon more pleasure than to see the excitement in the eyes of her nieces and nephews as they opened their new books.
Sharon’s love of children’s literature was further made clear by the discovery of numerous children’s books found in her home following her death. This discovery evidenced Sharon’s intent to gift the books to the great nieces and nephews in the years that lay ahead. Sharon’s tradition of book giving to young Fogarty family members was carried on by her sister, Kathleen Edquist, who gave out the books to her great nieces and nephews. In each book, Kathleen included the inscription, “From the Library of Great Aunt Do.”
A longtime member of The Friends of the Oviatt Library, Sharon demonstrated her commitment to the library through a future planned gift in support of the library’s collection. No finer choice was that than of her family’s establishment of the Sharon Fogarty Young Readers’ Collection. The books are a valuable asset to the CSUN campus and are also of benefit to its surrounding community and honors her memory by the inclusion of a Sharon Fogarty Young Readers’ Collection bookplate placed in each and every book funded by the endowment.
The Sharon Fogarty endowment assures that the Young Readers’ Collection remains a vibrant and valuable library within the Oviatt and continues to provide ongoing funding for books that benefit both young readers, as well as future educators. Nothing exemplifies the collection’s significance more than its use by students enrolled in CSUN’s teaching credential programs. These students find the collection to be an outstanding resource for use in their own coursework and when student teaching. The endowment of the Sharon Fogarty Young Readers’ Collection is most definitely a gift which continues to give. All of these books, as they were with her young family members, are gifts to all of us from “Aunt Do.”