In 1924 James B. Duke, the tobacco and hydroelectric power magnate, established the Duke Endowment as a permanent trust fund with designated beneficiaries. Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University, and Johnson C. Smith University are among the recipients of this generous benefactor.
In 2001 the directors, librarians, and staff of The Duke Endowment Libraries (TDEL) met to discuss issues of mutual concern and opportunities for collaboration. The TDEL meetings thus far have resulted in numerous collaborations and joint professional development opportunities. Examples include: a reciprocal borrowing agreement between the libraries, joint workshops on disaster response, information literacy, and copyright, as well as a pilot program related to the evaluation of Open Educational Resources (OERs).