Q & A with Incoming Library Foundation Board Chair, DeLano Ford

What moved you to get involved with the Atlanta Fulton Public Library Foundation?

I have lived in Atlanta for over 17 years and in each home, I have lived in I was about 2 blocks from my local library which became an important part of my connection to the community, When I was invited to join the Library Foundation many years ago by Nina Radakovich, I was eager to find a new way to contribute to Atlanta's core. My love for learning, my love for Atlanta, and my love for working on challenging but inspiring work led me to accept the invitation with gratitude and humility.

Why do you feel library services are so important to the communities we serve?

As an adolescent, one of the few places I was permitted to visit without the watchful eye of my parents was my local public library.  It was a place where I felt free and held at the same time.  Held and safe by the librarians and other library patrons and free to learn and explore worlds that lived within millions of pages.  The most vulnerable members of our communities can thrive in society because of the support of the library.  The most curious learners can always be fed because of the support of the library.  I fell in love with reading, I completed my first tax documents and learned how to prepare a meal at my local library.  This and many many more skills are life-long things that have grounded me and my family and certainly meet the needs of communities all over Atlanta.

What are you most excited to do as the leader of the foundation board of such a large public library system?  What do you see as your biggest challenge?

I am humbled and excited by following in the footsteps of amazing board chair folks who have laid an incredible foundation and shown a ton of increased support for the library system. At a time when brevity and sensation are more important to many individuals than gravity and information - the library system and the library foundation can be an institution that is enduring and meet the needs of entire communities.  I am excited by the challenge to mobilize even more supporters and advocates for the library system and the incredible work and commitment of the library staff.

Which library service do you love to share with people when you talk about the library?

The Library is the safest fabric in the social infrastructure of the city.  It is a place where everyone walks in seeking something and not having to give something... individuals are able to seek advice, counsel, knowledge, resources, and community without the expectation that they must give something.  There are very few places in the community where the expectations of what you bring inform your experience.  From technology to meeting space to research materials and finance and accounting documentation; all under the auspices of subject matter experts- librarians - public library services are fundamental to the maintenance of a community.

Why should someone reading this support the foundation?

The Library system is just as integral to the future of our city as schools. Strong education and libraries reduce. Given the widest gaps in modern history that exist between students who are readers and those who are non-readers, I believe we have a ton of work to do to ensure that libraries continue to exist as a part of the solution to close this literacy gap.  Libraries are an important factor in the educational solution of Atlanta.  Often times they have played a soft jazz music role but we should be focused on making it as loud and present as rock and roll.