The Sadler Early Literacy Endowment

The Virginia Beach Library Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of the Joseph and Virginia Sadler Early Literacy Endowment. This restricted fund will ensure that Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL) has the resources that it needs to help young readers learn the basic skills that they’ll need to become competent readers.

Who were the Sadlers?

Joe and Virginia Sadler were longtime Virginia Beach residents who genuinely believed in the importance of a great library for the community. Virginia’s involvement in VBPL predated the library system itself. In 1957 she served on the Junior Woman’s Club of Princess Anne County’s committee to establish a publicly-funded library in Virginia Beach. The club successfully raised over $40,000 and was instrumental in the establishment of the first Virginia Beach-Princess Anne County Library in May 1959. Virginia remained an enthusiastic library volunteer, serving at various times on the Public Library Board, the Friends of VBPL, and the Virginia Beach Library Foundation Board. Joe also volunteered for the library, helping to move books in and out of storage for the sidewalk book sales that the Friends held at the Convention Center. VBPL meant so much to Joe and Virginia that when they did their estate planning, they arranged to make a gift to the Library Foundation. In considering what purpose these funds would serve for the library, the Sadlers’ children drew upon their parents’ desire to instill in them and their children a love of reading and of the library and decided to target these generous funds to early literacy education.

What is early literacy education?

VBPL’s early literacy education programming is based on the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read 2 initiative. The primary purpose is to build the six early literacy skills that children need to have in place in order to enter school ready to learn to read. Learning early literacy skills is not the same as learning to read. These early literacy skills must be in place before the process of learning to read begins. VBPL’s goal is to teach and model skills like phonological awareness, narrative skills, and vocabulary development through easily replicable activities so that caregivers can incorporate them into their daily routines. Early literacy programming is based on the understanding of developmental stages and the principle that learning begins before birth, and the experiences of the first three years of life are critical to brain development. Once children enter school VBPL provides books, materials, programming, and tutors to support their early literacy development and continued advancement as readers.

How will these funds be spent?

The Library Foundation will maintain and invest the funds, and each year it will spend approximately 5% on early literacy education resources and programs. By limiting the spending like this, the endowment will grow over time and ensure that VBPL has the money it needs to provide high quality early literacy education in perpetuity. We will work closely with VBPL staff to determine what the greatest needs are for early literacy education at the library that year and release the money accordingly. This may include, but is not limited to, refreshing the Burgeon Early Literacy installations in the children’s rooms at the branches, providing books and other early literacy materials for the Summer Reading Challenge, and furnishing the Early Literacy Outreach team with resources to help them perform their outreach.

The Sadler Early Literacy Endowment began with a bequest of $72,000, but that is just the beginning. You can join in their legacy and help make sure that VBPL has the resources it needs to provide our community’s children with the early literacy skills that are critical to social and academic development by making a donation to grow the endowment today.

If you have questions about planned giving or how you can become a partner in the Library Foundation’s mission to provide additional resources for VBPL, please contact Kelly Weber Stefonowich at 757-385-8128 or