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Cobb County Public Library is the State's 2023 Library of the Year

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January 24, 2024

Georgia Public Library Service is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Georgia Public Library Awards, which honor public libraries and their champions who have made a profound difference in their communities.

“Strong public libraries are essential to a prosperous state, and this year’s honorees showcase the vital role that public libraries play in post-pandemic recovery, competitiveness, and resilience throughout Georgia,” said Vice Chancellor for Archives and Libraries and State Librarian Julie Walker. “Our public libraries are a model of collaboration, innovation, and excellence.”

Award winners are selected from nominations submitted by library patrons, trustees, Friends of Libraries groups, and staff, showcasing the best and brightest who serve in public libraries throughout the state.

Cobb County Public Library has been awarded Library of the Year; Alan Harkness of Chattahoochee Valley Libraries is Director of the Year; Lydia Hahne, business manager at Hall County Library System, is Library Employee of the Year; Michael L. Thurmond, chief executive officer of DeKalb County, is Library Champion of the Year; and Kathryn Ames, former director of Athens Regional Library System, has posthumously received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

"These award winners, along with so many others who received nominations, exemplify creativity, vision, and flexibility in adapting to the needs of a rapidly-changing world,” said Walker. “They continue to shine as community anchors across the state.”

Honorees will be celebrated at local ceremonies in early 2024. Contact each library for further information.

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Mark and Corey, CCPL's GIS analysts, stand in a dark room in front of a display monitor. The monitor illuminates their faces and displays a GIS map.


Cobb County Public Library (CCPL) has been recognized as Library of the Year for its commitment to serving its community by partnering with numerous organizations within its county and statewide, and for efforts to expand access to materials and essential services to its community. 

The library serves a population of over 750,000 across 15 branches and is dedicated to being a resource center in the community by providing equal access to information, materials, and services. 

“The Cobb County Public Library prides itself with providing excellent, responsive service to enrich people's lives, support lifelong learning, build and enhance our communities,” said Georgia State Senator Michael Rhett. “The library meets the needs of patrons across school systems, the county, and beyond by providing high quality services for early and adult learning literacy, hotspot and internet access, digital skills training, continuing education, health and wellness offerings, and cultural awareness in 15 branch locations.”

Cobb County Public Library received nomination letters from local elected officials, partnering organizations, school systems, and patrons who highlighted the library’s efforts across the community.

“This library has always been a safe haven and refuge from some of the confusing things about growing up,” said Jesse Quinton, Cobb County Public Library patron of over 15 years. “The library, staff, and other patrons have always been very respectful and helpful of my desire to learn, and I’ve grown here in ways that I might not have been able to if I wasn’t provided this resource.”

“We have a diverse, creative, knowledgeable, innovative, and experienced team that goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve,” said Helen Poyer, director of Cobb County Public Library. “Staff are resilient and adapt well to the changing technologies, information needs, and community dynamics. They are public servants who are committed to and passionate about the role they play in promoting literacy at all levels and to all people. It is a joy, a privilege, and an honor to work with such an amazing team.”

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Two young Black girls picking cherry tomatoes off a plant in North Cobb Library's community garden. It looks like a beautiful, sunny day.

The Cobb County Public Library has developed programs and services that enhance its role as a community hub and resource center, partnering with organizations that contribute to its goals.

A few of the library’s many unique local initiatives include:

Books By Mail: A free service that provides library materials to Cobb County residents who are unable to visit the library because of a physical disability, long-term illness, or lack of transportation. Items are delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, and the library provides pre-paid return postage at no cost to patrons.

“Books By Mail is a critical solution for not only our elderly patrons, but also chronically ill and physically challenged residents,” said Rachel Gray, Cobb County Public Library board trustee. “Cobb Library, in so many ways, can truly say it serves all residents, and that is possible because of our talented staff and their dedication to services like this.” 

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved the service in February 2023, and the program is supported by the county’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund. 

Falls Prevention Awareness Initiative: The library partners with a wide range of organizations to provide senior wellness programs, health screenings, and education for the community about the effects of injuries caused by falls. 

Cobb County Public Library launched the Falls Prevention Awareness Initiative in 2015. A few of the library’s earliest collaborators include the Georgia Department of Public Health Injury Prevention Program, Cobb Senior Services, and the Shepherd Center, one of the country’s top hospitals for rehabilitation.

Staff have been trained to offer evidence-based fall prevention programs that bring people together while learning how to prevent injuries and illnesses. Year-round senior class offerings include tai chi, yoga, chair yoga, and hula hoop.

“Our falls prevention programming shows how libraries are effective in intervening to address significant community issues,” said Poyer. “These classes are about increasing knowledge and confidence and improving quality of life. The library is a place for lifelong learning; we can help you learn what you need, when you need it.”

For the initiative, Cobb County Public Library received the Award for Outstanding Service presented by the Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory (IPRCE) in 2023.

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A young man in a white shirt and glasses stands with his hands behind his back. He is smiling.
An all ages yoga class at the library. Folks stand tall with their feet slightly apart and their arms stretched over their heads.

Vision To Learn Partnership: The library’s partnership with the nonprofit organization Vision To Learn has provided more than 2,100 eye exams and 1,400 pairs of glasses to Cobb County children for free through on-site mobile vision clinics at library branches. 

This partnership helps children who have uncorrected vision needs, which means they are more likely to struggle in learning how to read. Vision To Learn visits are part of the library’s collaboration with Learn4Life, Metro Atlanta Regional Education Partnership.

“Although we have provided service at libraries across the country, Cobb County Public Library was a pioneering partner and has continued to set the standard for using libraries as a critical resource in the community, not just for literacy, but for health and wellness,” said Peter Silberman, chief growth officer at Vision To Learn.

Accessibility Services: Cobb County Public Library has made meeting the needs of the underserved in their community a priority. The library offers patrons a place to use assistive technology such as screen readers and magnifiers, listen to talking books, or find disability resources.

Cobb County Public Library began its focus on special needs populations in 2014, when the Windy Hill Therapeutic Center Library opened within the Cobb County PARKS Therapeutic Center. The center provides adult day care for those 18 and over who have a disability and need recreational, social, and skill-building activities. In 2019, the library expanded its programs to also serve the general public.

“We recognized that accessibility needed to become a priority for our library. Disability doesn’t have an age limit,” said Renaté Elliott, accessibility services supervisor at Cobb County Public Library. “We needed to provide services beyond those who attend adult day care. We also needed to include kids, as well as young adults who graduated from high school but are not quite ready for college or a job. We wanted to prioritize inclusion across the board.”

Angela, dressed in traditional African clothes, sits in front of a large audience. She is reading a book to them.

Public Library Access for Student Success: Students who attend a Marietta City School or a Cobb County Public School can use their student ID number, commonly referred to as a lunch number, to check out library materials and access digital resources. 

The library is also known for providing career advancement opportunities through educational programming, workshops, partnerships, and more.

“The Cobb County Public Library has been instrumental in organizing educational workshops, offering technological access, and hosting a wide range of programs that cater to people of all ages,” said Sonya Grant, president and chief executive officer of CobbWorks. “Their unwavering commitment to serving the community is apparent in the resources and support they provide, enabling individuals to enhance their skill sets and improve their employment prospects.”

The library also partnered with Georgia Educational Resources, Inc., a sponsor of Georgia's Summer Food Service Program, to provide over 141,500 meals to more than 11,000 children at branches in response to the pandemic’s impact on families’ ability to afford food, and the program has continued since. 

“The dedication and hard work that Cobb County Public Library has invested in supporting the Summer Food Service Program over the past four years are nothing short of outstanding,” said Tammie Johnson, director at Georgia Educational Resources, Inc. “Because of the library, many children received nutritious meals who may not have otherwise.”

For details about a local celebration, contact Cobb County Public Library at (770) 528-2326 or

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