Kate Rattenborg Scott, the owner of Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa, announced Saturday that the indie she founded in 2011 has established the Oneota Valley Literary Foundation. The announcement was made in front of 130 people during an event the store hosted for William Kent Krueger, who is touring the region promoting his latest release, Fox Creek.

The foundation’s purpose is trifold: it will support author visits to the Oneota River Valley area in northeastern Iowa, including appearances at schools, senior citizen centers, libraries, and other venues; it will purchase books for distribution to classrooms, schools, and daycare centers, as well as other nonprofit organizations that work with youth; and it will establish a writer’s retreat in an apartment above the bookstore, for which the details are still being worked out.

Noting that she has sat on a number of nonprofit boards over the years, “and I have seen the benefits nonprofit status provides,” in terms of making organizations eligible for grants and private and corporate donations, Rattenborg Scott said that she became “intrigued with considering nonprofit status” after participating in April 2021 in an American Booksellers Association webinar on nonprofit business models for booksellers.

“Looking into this alternate business model more, I became aware of ‘hybrid model bookstores,’” she said. “Bookstores that still operate as for-profit businesses yet have created nonprofits with which they work collaboratively.” Two examples of stores in the region already operating under such a business model, she said, are Left Bank Books in St. Louis and Neighborhood Reads in Washington, Mo.

The Oneota Valley Literary Foundation, Rattenborg explained, shifts Dragonfly Books’ “community-centered, mission driven work to the nonprofit [to] better leverage community support through sponsorships, grants, and private donations. Many facets of what we have traditionally done at Dragonfly Books are not profitable, although extremely important for our community.”