11 Questions with Mary Mackay

An interview with the new associate executive director for ALA Publishing

June 5, 2017

Mary Mackay is the new associate executive director for ALA Publishing.
Mary Mackay is the new associate executive director for ALA Publishing. Photo: Kyle Cassidy

Mary Mackay is no stranger to the American Library Association (ALA). Even though she officially begins her role as the new associate executive director (AED) for ALA Publishing on June 5, Mackay has been with the Association since 2005, serving first as director of marketing and marketing strategy for Publishing until 2011, and then as ALA’s marketing director until today. As AED for Publishing, Mackay will lead the department and its units: Editions/Neal-Schuman, Booklist, American Libraries, eLearning Solutions, Digital Resources (including RDA: Resource Description and Access), and Graphics.

Before coming to ALA, Mackay worked for ProLiteracy’s publishing division, New Readers Press, where she served as associate executive director, marketing director, editorial director, project editor, and managing editor. Mackay has a postgraduate certificate in education and a certificate in teaching English as a second language from the University of York, England. She also holds a degree in French and philosophy with honors from Oxford University, England.

Mackay answered American Libraries’ “11 Questions” to introduce herself to ALA members.

Coffee, tea, other?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, other later.

What’s the first website or app you check in the morning?

Depending on how awake I feel, The Guardian (more awake) or Facebook (less).

Best career advice you’ve ever received?

Stay curious—listen, watch, and learn.

What drew you to librarianship/ALA?

Growing up with an educator father and a social worker mother, both great library advocates. Believing in access to literature and information as critical to democracy, and being a voracious reader unable to fathom a world without libraries open to everyone.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office?


Guilty pleasure?

Um, guilty secret.

First job?

Bob-a-job as a Brownie when I was about 8—odd jobs for which our families and neighbors paid a bob (one shilling) to raise money for charity. (That gives away both my British origins and my age!) First job that netted me an actual salary: teaching English in Japan for two years after university.

What do you hope to bring to ALA and members?

Commitment, passion, energy, success in generating revenue to help us meet ALA’s mission, and on a good day, a friendly face and a sense of humor.

If you had to choose any other profession, what would it be?

Arts administrator or nutritionist. (Or if I’d been born with talent, musician.)

Book you’re reading?

I usually have several on the go at once. I just finished The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (an amazing story, with the unexpected bonus of insights into desert blues music). I’m in the middle of The Nix by Nathan Hill (great social satire) and Viviane Elisabeth Fauville by Julia Deck (for a reading group).

Tool used for keeping your life organized?

Lists: analog, digital, any format.


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