Meet the PLA Board

Meet Richard Kong, Director-at-Large

I’m currently the Deputy Director of Skokie (Ill.) Public Library. The Chicago area has been home to me for most of my life, but I also spent about a decade living in various cities across the country and a year in Seoul, South Korea. I have degrees from Oberlin College (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), and University of Michigan’s School of Information (MSI). Initially I thought I would become an academic librarian, but working at a public library during grad school changed everything. I saw first-hand how a vibrant public library can strengthen its community and make a real difference in people’s lives. It was then that I realized I was meant to work in public libraries, and I have yet to regret that decision! You can find me on Twitter @kongtemplation or learn more about my work at

Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board

I wanted to serve on the PLA Board because the association played a critical role in helping me develop as a librarian early on in my career, and it continues to do so now. Being a member of PLA informs how I think about libraries, helps me keep up-to-date on what’s happening in the field, gives me the tools to become a more effective leader, and connects me with leaders in the field. Through its conferences, publications, and initiatives, I’ve seen what a huge impact PLA has on its members and the communities we serve. By serving on the PLA Board, I hope to help the association remain a positive force for libraries, librarians, and the communities we serve.

My vision for the future of public libraries

One of my core beliefs is that public libraries have the potential to change lives and communities for the better. In the near and distant future, I see libraries continuing to be trusted, positive presences at the center of local communities. Our field is certainly ripe with possibilities for growth and innovation, and I believe we can make a difference by creating libraries that are welcoming, collaborative, and completely engaged with their communities. We can stand with others in our community to pursue equity and access, cultivate learning and literacy, and create more connected communities.

My favorite book

One of my recent favorites is Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. After seeing him speak so powerfully at the PLA 2014 Conference, I was excited to read more about his life, work, and worldview. People like Stevenson inspire me to make a difference in this world through serving others.

Somewhere I love to frequent in my community

I love the local parks in my community. Contrary to what we’ve all been taught on the hit television show, Parks and Recreation, librarians can and should enjoy parks!