Diane Jalfon is the first director of the Memphis Library Foundation, and we are thrilled to welcome this dear friend today as our Face of Memphis.
Where were you born and how did you make it to Memphis?
I grew up in Ohio and moved to Texas after college. A job brought us to Memphis in 1991 and it’s been home ever since.
Best advice you’ve been given?
No one ever listened themselves out of a gift.
What does your ideal Saturday look like?
What Memphis event do you most look forward to?
My husband Daniel and I are big supporters of Memphis in May. It’s a wonderful celebration of music, food and culture that really brings the city together.
What’s your secret to staying healthy and looking so youthful?
At my age, you work hard just to maintain. So I try to keep up a pretty rigorous exercise regimen–cardio and weights several times a week. Plenty of fish and vegetables. Meat and sugar in moderation. And optimism and humor in abundance.
Do you think that women are on an equal playing field with men when it comes to the non-profit sector?
I do. Some of the most effective non-profit leaders I know are women. The wealth of non-profit organizations based in Memphis makes it a discipline with great opportunity for women. I think the non-profit sector here is doing a better job of advancing female leaders than the private sector.
How does the Library Foundation support the public library system?
The Foundation’s role is to enhance the library through private funding. That means funding everything from programs to technology to special projects that can’t be covered through the library’s operating budget. Some of the recent projects we’re most proud of include the JobLINC bus, which travels across the city assisting job seekers, Summer Reading Club, which serves more than 12,000 students city-wide and early literacy programs and technology for our youngest readers. We also purchase a lot of books for the library on an ongoing basis.
What percentage of funding comes from the City of Memphis?
The city of Memphis budget covers facilities and staff only. That means that each program at all of the 18 branches needs private funds to operate. Every Story Time, Small Business Workshop, Computer Class and Teen Tech program is funded through private donations.
What is a common misconception about the library?
That no one comes here. In fact, more people visit the library than attend Grizzlies games, U of M basketball and football games, AutoZone Park, Liberty Bowl and the Southern Heritage Classic combined. I am constantly running into friends here. It’s a very lively place.
What are some fun-for-all-ages events going on this summer at the library?
For children, there are a ton of activities. Kids who sign up for our Summer Reading Club can earn prizes just for reading. There are puppet shows, music, craft making and other activities happening in branches all over the city. For adults, there are free foreign films offered throughout the summer. The Library is participating in The Global Lens film series this year, which screens award-winning films from Iran, China, Serbia, Mexico, India and more.
What book(s) can currently be found on your bedside table or tablet?
I try to rotate between fiction, non-fiction, classic and contemporary works. So right now it’s Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Next up will be The Moviegoer.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can bowl embarrassingly well.
What are your hobbies?
Travel, live music, reading, cooking and collecting art and wine.
Your favorite travel destination(s)?
Napa Valley and Italy.
Favorite local restaurant(s)?
Tsunami, Iris and Andrew Michael.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My incredible children Leah, Michael and Cole.
Summer fashion must-have?
White jeans! I wish I could wear them all year round.
Name 3 things you can’t live without (excluding God, family and friends):
Music, coffee and Burt’s Bee’s rhubarb lip shimmer.
Thanks, Diane! And thanks Cristen Jones for today’s beautiful photographs!