From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

Necessary Trouble

September 1, 2020

Lewis, who served as a US representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district for more than three decades, was a friend to libraries and to ALA, for which he was a frequent speaker. His late wife, Lillian, had been a librarian, and libraries played a major role in Lewis’s early activism. He often spoke about how, … Continue reading Necessary Trouble


From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

Let Our Legacy Be Justice

July 1, 2020

Just as there was an outcry across the field to keep our staff and communities safe and protected from COVID-19, so too are we obligated to decry racism. As library and information workers, our resistance in both fights requires resilience. The future of libraries rests on building institutions and developing leaders who will promote racial … Continue reading Let Our Legacy Be Justice


From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

Front Lines and Fault Lines

June 1, 2020

“Wow,” he exclaimed, asking where I had heard about it. I told him there were regular updates on the internet about supply distribution and, ­perhaps even more important, about the number of confirmed coronavirus cases by zip code. To which he responded earnestly, “But how many people have the internet?” I gestured toward his phone, … Continue reading Front Lines and Fault Lines


From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall

Perfect Storm

May 1, 2020

And all this within the first 30 days of my taking the helm. On day 31, a member wrote to me acknowledging the unforeseen series of events that had played out, and confided, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had buyer’s remorse.” I didn’t, and I don’t. Though I certainly would have wished for other … Continue reading Perfect Storm



Reflecting on Our Mission

January 2, 2020

Like other nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, ALA exists because we seek to accomplish a mission, initially defined in ALA’s Constitution, “to promote library service and librarianship.” That critical social purpose was later more expansively stated in ALA Policy Manual, ­section A.1.2: “The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and … Continue reading Reflecting on Our Mission


Mary Ghikas, ALA executive director

Listening to Your Community

November 1, 2019

At the event, R. David Lankes, now director of University of South Carolina’s iSchool, facilitated discussions on the topic. Participants from all types of libraries were asked to take an imaginary walk around their community: observing, listening, seeking to understand the aspirations of the community for itself. During the discussion that followed, participants talked about how … Continue reading Listening to Your Community


Mary Ghikas, ALA executive director

Future Destinations

September 3, 2019

As in our personal lives, a new year is a time for reflection. We look back at the surprises, successes, and disappointments. We look at how we performed inside the Association—and, even more important, at our impact on libraries, on the people who make both the Association and libraries work, and on all the communities … Continue reading Future Destinations


Mary Ghikas, ALA executive director

At the Core of Our Work

June 3, 2019

In the most basic terms, an association is simply a voluntary organization of persons with common interests and ends, joining formally to achieve things they could not achieve—or could not achieve as well—alone. It’s an observation made in the early 1800s in Democracy in America by French historian Alexis de Tocqueville as he witnessed Americans … Continue reading At the Core of Our Work


Mary Ghikas, ALA executive director

Challenge, Change, Opportunity

November 1, 2018

Over the coming months, our Association will be engaged in difficult but essential work. The task will require that we work together in good faith, trusting one another’s commitment to the important job of library workers and the power of libraries to transform individuals and communities of all types. The American Library Association (ALA) was … Continue reading Challenge, Change, Opportunity


Mary Ghikas, ALA executive director

Modernizing Our Association

June 1, 2018

In the November/December issue of American Libraries, ALA President Jim Neal issued a call to ALA members to consider the 21st-century effectiveness and agility of an organization with governance documents dating back more than 140 years. He called for a review of ALA’s organizational effectiveness with the aim of revitalizing the Association. At the 2018 … Continue reading Modernizing Our Association


Keith Michael Fiels

My ALA Journey

June 1, 2017

Here’s an organization with: 57,000 members, representing an incredibly wide range of backgrounds, communities served, types of libraries, and interests a new president every year an Executive Board a 185-member Council 11 divisions (each with its own board) 20 round tables 56 state and regional chapters membership in 96 countries 1,266 online communities 1,272 discussion … Continue reading My ALA Journey