Champion of Literacy, Mary Lamo-Putnam
Mary Lamo-Putnam frequented Long Beach Public Libraries all her life. During her childhood in Long Beach, she and her friends would ride their bikes to Los Altos Library. Little did Mary know, she would go on to make an incredible impact on the City’s libraries.
Mary was first introduced to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation through its signature fundraising event, Grape Expectations. Kim Neipling, then a Board member, invited Mary and her late husband, Russ, to enjoy the event and learn more about the Library Foundation. From there, her involvement with the Library Foundation grew and Kim nominated her to join the Board in 2012.
In 2013, Mary joined the Grape Expectations planning committee, which she would go onto Chair or Co-chair five times. Thanks to the dedication of the Committee and Library Foundation staff, the Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser has grown into a premier gala that hundreds of literacy supporters look forward to every year. Mary’s IT project management background is of great value to the event planning process. Most notably, she developed a detailed project plan, which is still used today to keep the event on track. Since she joined the committee, the event has raised more than $1.4 million.
Mary also played an instrumental role in campaigns for two new libraries. In 2016, the Library Foundation raised over $1 million for the newly opened Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, and a couple of years later, the New Main Campaign raised more than $3.3 million for the Billie Jean King Main Library which opened in 2019. In addition to advising staff on the campaign and helping to raise funds in the community, Mary made a generous donation in honor of her late husband Russell Putnam. A plaque dedicated to them both can be found in the photography section of the Main Library.
Mary is always thinking about the future of the Long Beach Public Library. Perhaps the strongest example of this is her membership of the Carnegie 49 Society, a group of supporters who have included the Library Foundation in their estate plan. She also co-chaired the Library of the Future Committee in 2014 and 2015 alongside J.P. Shotwell. The Committee was inspired by the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries which sought to identify emerging trends relevant to libraries, librarians, and the communities they serve. Working to answer the question, “What will the Library be in 2025?” Mary and her fellow committee members traveled to new libraries in San Diego, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Cerritos to tour the modern buildings and observe innovative service delivery models. Having previously worked in information technology, Mary understood the great value of increasing digital resources in libraries.
Mary has dedicated countless hours of volunteer time to literacy in Long Beach. In addition to her roles on the Library Foundation’s Grape Expectations Committee and Library of the Future Committee, Mary served as VP of Programs, Liaison to the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library, and joined the Grand Literacy Committee and Librarian Appreciation Committee. She was always one of the first board members to volunteer at community outreach invents such as Dictionary Days and the ACO7 Literacy Fair.
While she will no longer serve on the board as a director, we will continue to benefit from her expertise as a member of the Grape Expectations planning committee. We are excited to toast to her success at next year’s gala, and we will likely run into her among the bookstacks of the Los Altos Neighborhood Library.