Founded in 1998, the DeKalb Library Foundation provides support for DeKalb County Public Library beyond public funding and to enrich the lives of DeKalb County citizens through educational, cultural and literary programs and services. Although the library system is primarily funded by tax dollars, philanthropic funding allows the library to have the flexibility to offer special programs or to purchase additional materials. In 2009 the library experienced a significant decrease in public funding going from more than $2,000,000 to $100,000 over the course of a few years. As the library system faced its public funding decrease, the Foundation's role became increasingly important.
In response to this critical deficit, the Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation offered a $125,000 challenge grant to create a literary endowment. Over a two year period, the matching funds were raised and the Darro C. Willey Literacy Program Endowment was established.
The Foundation enjoys significant support from bestselling author Karin Slaughter through her Save the Libraries Fund. From hosting a concert with the Indigo Girls to conducting a Facebook Live fundraising event, Ms. Slaughter serves as an important library advocate.
Funds raised by the Foundation support many important programs such as 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, Take the Internet Home with You and most recently, PRIME TIME Preschool.