Alive & Unedited: Donna Zuiderweg

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Her book tattoo tells you everything: Donna Zuiderweg lives for libraries. Right now, she's one staff member fighting to maintain the national reputation of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. This summer, the city's 20-branch system was forced to cut hours and services in response to a 31-percent reduction in state funding.

I've been in libraries all my life. I was the geeky kid who spent my Saturdays walking to and from the public library and spending hours at a time there. It was several miles each way. I can't believe my mom let me walk back and forth.

We moved to Columbus from Youngstown when I was 16. My dad had a position with the post office and transferred. It was one of the best things that could've ever happened, at least in my life. I love Columbus.

I thought I hit pay dirt when I discovered the Columbus Metropolitan Library. We had the Austintown library in a suburb of Youngstown. It was very nice, but Columbus has one of the best libraries in the country. It was even true back then.

Part of the reason is because Ohio has strong library funding. We've been fortunate from that perspective. We've been supported by the State of Ohio, so in general Ohio has better libraries than a lot of the country. It's a bit of a shame that some of that state funding is going away right now.

Columbus is a city of readers. They've recognized the value of the library and have used it. For that reason and many more, we have a great library here.

As the development director, I find and connect people who love the library, too. I make it easy for them to support the library through sponsorships, through volunteerism, through gifts. I work with individual donors, and I work with corporate partners to help the programs and services of the library.

We've had to make some changes because of the cuts. We are hopeful that they can be temporary. We're up for a renewal levy in November 2010, and one of our goals with the passage of that levy would be to resume the hours that we lost and more.

For me, reading is escapism. I'm a fiction person. I like stories that allow me to escape. I unfortunately don't spend enough time in the nonfiction section. I like serial killers, travel, adventure, all of that.

The first book I ever really loved is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It's one of the best books ever. It was the first time that I remember crying over a book and being so engaged in the characters that I sobbed.

Other than reading, I love to play soccer. I play in a women's over-30 league. We're fast approaching the women's over-40 league. I played until I was 11, then I played basketball for a long time, then picked soccer up again when I turned 30.

When my boss introduces me, he says, "This is probably the only development director you'll meet for a library who has a book tattooed on her foot."

Three things I can't live without are books, wine and my family, including my dog Harvey.

Know someone doing cool things in Columbus? E-mail John Ross at

Age: 38

Day job: Development director, Columbus Metropolitan Library

Neighborhood: New Albany

Alma mater: Ohio State

Hometown: Youngstown


Playing Favorites

Favorite band: Counting Crows

Favorite movie: Good Hill Hunting

Favorite TV show: The Closer

Favorite book: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite drink: Red wine