Friends of the Dallas Public Library have named an award after one of the library’s founders, May Dickson Exall, to honor a person who has gone above and beyond to help the city’s public library system.
Bob Mong, former editor of The Dallas Morning News, is the inaugural winner of the award.
Exall, whose family has roots in the Park Cities, was a civil servant and pioneer among female philanthropists in Dallas. She organized the Dallas Federation of Women’s Clubs, which she had establish a public library.
She raised $10,000 in the community, and she reached out to one of the richest men in the world, Andrew Carnegie, who donated $50,000 to the effort.
Exall is listed as the founder of the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, known as the Dallas Museum of Art today, and she was the founding president of the Dallas Shakespeare Club in 1886. She was one of the first women to attend Vassar College.
“Our city owes a lot to this remarkable woman,” said Kate Park, FODPL executive director. “We think this is a wonderful way to perpetuate her legacy.”
Her grandson, Henry Exall Jr., was 8 years old when she died in 1936. Now 87, the Highland Park resident will attend the awards banquet with his family.
“She was a very active woman,” Henry said. “I’m very proud of her.”
The banquet to honor Mong will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Room on Main. Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, will be the keynote speaker. The proceeds of the event will support the Dallas Public Libraries.
“As a longtime journalist, and now a college president, I have found librarians and archivists not only endlessly helpful, but essential to preserving the free flow of knowledge and information in a democracy,” Mong said.