FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — According to a press release, the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation has received a $1 million gift from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.

The kitchen in FPL’s expansion will be renamed the Walker Family Teaching Kitchen in honor of the family’s new contribution. The library stated that it is a major step toward the completion of the Beyond Words: Finish this Chapter Capital Campaign.

“The Walker Family has played a major role in the evolution of Fayetteville Public Library,” said David Johnson, executive director. “Their gift to the Blair Library capital campaign continues to be honored, as the Walker Community Room is one of the most used spaces in the original library. It was so popular, in fact, that its demand was a catalyst for many of the new meeting and event spaces you see in the expansion.”

“Given that one of the goals of our foundation is to support literary and educational endeavors, we are always proud of partnering with Fayetteville Public Library,” said Mandy Macke, executive director for the Walker Foundation. “We hope that our gift and the Walker Family Teaching Kitchen allow even more of our community members to access the library’s resources.

“The Walker Family Teaching Kitchen is an incredible resource for the community,” said Johnson. “Not only does it give the library new opportunities for public programming, but it also is an excellent tool for workforce development. An example of that is our partnership with Brightwater and Fayetteville Public Schools that allows high school students to graduate with an associate degree in culinary arts.” 

The Walker Family Teaching Kitchen will also host visiting chefs, fundraisers and other nonprofits, and is available to rent for private events.

“The most recent gift from the Walker Family put us close enough to our goal of $23 million that we felt it was time to officially ask the community to help FPL Finish this Chapter,” said Christina Karnatz, director of development and marketing & communications. “With 37% of our final goal remaining, it will take all of us, one gift at a time, to close the gap.”

The expansion opened in January 2021. “It has been wonderful to see how the community is using the new spaces,” said Karnatz. “Visit on any given Saturday and you’ll see the place full of people from all walks of life; we have something for everyone. The goal is to expand programming even further and complete additional projects, but until the campaign is complete, it isn’t possible.”

The Beyond Words campaign began in late 2018 to privately raise the remaining funds needed to complete the $50 million project.  A millage passed by Fayetteville citizens in 2016 provided the additional $27 million.

For more information or to make a pledge or gift, visit faylib.org/foundation.