The Public Library Association (PLA), division of the American
Library Association (ALA) seeks an Executive Director to lead the
association for public librarians and public library staff.
With an eleven-member Board of Directors, thirty committees and
work groups, and fifteen staff members; PLA develops programs,
products, and services to help those working in public libraries
learn, innovate, and lead to better support the communities they
serve. The nearly 7000-member group represents rural, suburban, and
urban public libraries. PLA strives to help its members shape
the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an
indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information
about PLA see: www.pla.org .
The Executive Director will play an important role in
strengthening the future position of the division as a key partner
and collaborator with other divisions and the larger ALA
organization, helping to reimagine and ensure a healthy, vibrant
institution. PLA is dedicated to visionary
leadership; proactive member engagement; integrity and
transparency; equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice; as
well as excellence and innovation. Other significant focus areas
for PLA include: leadership development that
builds and supports leaders who reflect the needs of their
communities and the profession; advocacy, that
helps libraries demonstrate and quantify the value of library
services, increases library funding, and expands partnership
opportunities; positioning public libraries leaders and partners
for national advocacy efforts including closing
the digital divide, e-book lending, and increasing democratic
engagement such as voter and census participation;
promoting equity, diversity, inclusion, and social
justice as core public library values that address
historical racial inequities, challenge oppressive systems, and
eliminate barriers to equitable services; and championing
literacy including family, digital, health, and financial
Reporting to the ALA Executive Director and the PLA Board of
Directors, the position provides vision and leadership for
advancing PLA’s core purpose, goals, and strategic objectives as
defined by the PLA Board of Directors in its strategic plan;
represents the interests of PLA and public libraries to a
range of stakeholders and constituencies, forging partnerships and
alliances as appropriate; provides long-range planning, both
strategic and operational; effectively manages the resources of the
division, including hiring and retaining a strong team; manages and
builds PLA’s fiscal resources, with responsibility for a $4 million
annual operating budget and over $10 million in programmatic
grants; facilitates the delivery of programs, research, and
services (including a biennial conference) that advance the work of
public libraries; provides oversight, review, and direction for all
PLA professional development and product activities; and serves as
a member of ALA’s senior leadership team.
Because of its complexity, this position requires a national
spokesperson and thought leader, an effective team member who can
serve as an advocate for libraries the PLA division and ALA.
As this position works closely with and reports to the
elected PLA Board of Directors, there is a high premium placed on
the ability to work well with PLA leaders and to understand current
association and governance best practices. Additionally, being a
member of the ALA senior management team requires a commitment to
collaboration, excellent listening skills, a spirit of innovation,
effective time and project management, and an ability to balance
risk and reward. The need to balance and assess demands and
priorities—sometimes competing ones—has real urgency in this
The PLA offices are in Chicago, a city bursting with
world-class, big city culture. Despite its size, at its heart,
Chicago is a welcoming Midwestern city known for genuine
hospitality and dynamic cultural offerings set against a backdrop
of expansive lakefront, iconic architecture, over 300 parks and
green spaces, and 77 vibrant, ethnically diverse neighborhoods,
along with one of the nation’s most inclusive LGBTQ+ communities
that together form the heart and soul of this energetic city.
Starting Salary: Negotiable from the low 100s, based on
Benefits: ALA offers a comprehensive and valuable benefits
package that includes generous paid vacation and matching
In addition to your resume, please provide a cover letter
outlining the strategic value that you will bring to PLA, drawing
upon past successes and experience.
Closing Date: Review of candidates will begin
on or around Dec 1, 2020 and continue until the position is
You may apply online including your cover letter and resume.
Send your cover letter and resume to:
Sr. Human Resources Manager
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
Fax: (312) 280 5270
The American Library Association is an equal opportunity
- A strategic and collaborative thinker with a proven success
- Ability to simultaneously develop and maintain effective
working relationships with the elected Board of Directors, members
and volunteers, staff and colleagues, funders, vendors, and other
- History of strong leadership that is inclusive, collaborative,
and service oriented with proven ability to lead through a time of
change and uncertainty.
- Ability to advance the association by exercising strong
managerial skills and leadership including mobilizing and inspiring
individuals and teams to build regional and national networks and
articulate the power of libraries to non-library stakeholders.
- Experience in building and leveraging partnerships with other
civic and community organizations.
- Ability to balance competing demands and priorities in a
complex organizational environment to effectively manage resources
including time, money, and attention, in fiscally challenging
- Entrepreneurial aptitude and ability to think creatively and to
take appropriate and strategic risks.
- Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and
- Outstanding communication skills.
- Flexibility, adaptability, and a commitment to learning and
- A four-year college or university degree.
- Visionary yet pragmatic
- Reflective and resilient
- Comfort with ambiguity and change
- Graduate-level degree with relevance to the position
- ASAE Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential or
commensurate executive management experience
- Seven or more years management experience in an association
environment strongly preferred.
- Other non-profit or library management experience a plus.
- Knowledge of the “big picture” values and issues in public
- Experience supervising staff and working with teams
- Experience leading in an entrepreneurial context.
- Experience working with volunteer boards and managing complex