Meet Your Free Library Boards: Barbara Sutherland

By Kate C. RSS Tue, March 10, 2020

By now, you may have seen our ongoing blog series spotlighting the hardworking staff here at the Free Library. Today, we begin a new series where we'll get to know some of the individuals who sit on the Free Library boards, both the Foundation Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees. Let's start with Barbara Sutherland, chair of the Board of Directors.

In my day job I... have been serving in volunteer positions since I left a job in corporate finance to stay home to raise my two boys. I have been involved with various organizations such as the local school district, the Wayne Art Center, and in leadership positions at St. David’s Church and Duke University.

I’m involved with the Free Library because... I believe strongly in the importance of a literate society and the key role that the Free Library plays in making this a reality.

The Free Library program/service/resource I most enjoy using is... enrichment programming and online services.

I would tell someone unfamiliar with the library that... the Free Library has the ability to reach the broadest range of the population through its neighborhood libraries in a way unlike any other civil service organization in the city. It also provides essential services in the areas of literacy improvement, health information, and workforce training, to name just a few.

My Free Library location is... Parkway Central Library.

I am currently reading, watching, or listening to... I always have a book on hand and an audiobook available. I love both fiction and biographies.


The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation Board of Directors works toward the Foundation mission to develop resources in order to expand, enhance, and support the services, collections, building programs, and other activities of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Check back here on the blog soon for the next staff profile and board member spotlight!


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Ms. Sutherland, I realize there are multiple safety and policy concerns at present which have delayed library openings. But I have found that the Washington DC, Newark, Baltimore City, NYC, and Delaware County libraries all offer curbside service, and some have sites open to the public. I am highly disappointed that the Free Library of Philadelphia is so far behind these other systems, and do hope that it can at least offer curbside services in a safe fashion soon. I belong to three Friends groups, and over time I have visited ALL brick & mortar branches of the Free Library and know how vital it is. Thank you.
Freedman, Joseph - Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ms. Sutherland, I wrote you yesterday about my desire to see the libraries open in a safe manner and my disappointment we were lagging behind other systems. I realize there are many issues, as the Inquirer featured today. I have seen the letter from the concerned Black staff and wish to add, although I am not knowledgeable enough to evaluate their points re: the library system, I am quite concerned they are bringing up issues regarding the community whom they do not represent. Thank you.
Joseph Freedman - Philadelphia
Thursday, July 23, 2020