Q & A with Outgoing Library Foundation Board Chair, Lori Kilberg

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

I have always been a lover of public libraries as free, safe, and wondrous spaces to explore and learn. I was first introduced to the concept of a library foundation, a philanthropic foundation dedicated to supporting the public library system when I joined the Board of the Seattle Library Foundation during my 4-year residence in Seattle. The Seattle library system and its foundation worked together to foster one of the most honored and effective library systems in the country. When I moved back to Atlanta in 2020, I wanted to find a way to make a difference in the community by advocating and fundraising for the Fulton County Library System. 

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

I believe that libraries are an essential community service, like roads, schools, and security. Libraries are an integral part of our social infrastructure by offering free public space for communities to convene, learn and explore. They are available to all, from the youngest to the oldest of us, wherever we live in the County. We are so fortunate to have 34 state-of-the-art, newly built, or renovated library branches serving Fulton County. No one is more than 3 ½ miles away from their local branch and the free programs and services it provides.

What has been your favorite part of leading the foundation board of such a large public library system?  Most challenging?

It has been incredibly rewarding to recruit and work with board members who share a vision of making Fulton County’s library system the broad-based, equity-focused, community space for lifelong learning that our County deserves.  The most challenging work of the Foundation has been to raise public awareness of the library services and programs that are strategically designed and delivered to meet expressed individual community needs. The library of today (and tomorrow) is so much more than a repository of books. We are supporting the library of the future with a strategic focus on early learning, economic development, and digital access and literacy.

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

There are so many, that’s not a fair question! I’m a huge fan of digital ebooks and audiobooks and whenever someone recommends a book I head straight to the Library’s “Libby” App to borrow or place a hold. More importantly, though, I love to share information about the incredible programs the library is currently offering and planning, such as The Children’s Book Festival in late Spring and the community-wide One Book/One Read in the Fall. These programs bring families into our libraries and give us an opportunity to engage in community-wide discussions around issues that affect all of us.

Why should someone reading this support the foundation?

Public funding covers the basic operations of the Library System. It is private funding that supports County-wide programming like the Children’s Book Festival, the Summer Learning Program (for children and adults), and the book club discussions spurred by the One Book/One Read program. The Foundation supports the library‘s strategic planning and training to better address the needs of all Fulton County residents. We are so proud of all the Library does to provide access to Fulton County residents to best-in-class resources and programs, fostering a vibrant, educated, and engaged community.