Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Fugitive Literacies

June 1, 2022

There is a long history of denying reading skills or access to particular groups, including incarcerated people, unpaid and low-wage workers, enslaved and colonized communities, and women. Ken Bigger, a new senior fellow in ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries, connects literacy to civic fluency in his research. Bigger raises this point: The prison … Continue reading Fugitive Literacies


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Literacy as Liberation

May 2, 2022

Opening the program had been a last resort. After learning that many outlets for adult reading instruction had gradually disappeared in the neighborhoods where need was greatest—and that none were in libraries—my colleagues and I took matters into our own hands. We transformed an underused library space into a modest but thriving literacy center that … Continue reading Literacy as Liberation


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

The Table and the Folding Chair

March 1, 2022

In this fourth and final column introducing ALA’s newly implemented five-year strategic plan, I want to mine the connection between creating institutional belonging and facilitating the change management critical to organizational sustainability and impact. The first of these begets the second. In addition to the overarching goals of the new Pivot (or change management) Strategy, … Continue reading The Table and the Folding Chair


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Belonging as Technology

January 3, 2022

This is a critical area of focus for the American Library Association (ALA) and for the LIS community at large. This past year exposed digital access barriers such as expensive and low-quality broadband, the ongoing paucity of technology in the lowest-income households, and the overlap of limited reading skills and limited digital literacy. Left unchecked, … Continue reading Belonging as Technology


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Membership as a Movement

November 1, 2021

Lately, however, we have faced mounting external pressures against those core ideals. To name just a few: barriers placed on equitable access, a persistent lack of diversity and equitable mobility in the US workforce, proliferating attacks against intellectual freedom with increased challenges to LGBTQIA and antiracist content, the pandemic’s disruption to education and employment, and … Continue reading Membership as a Movement


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

The Pivot and the Path

September 1, 2021

I visualize nkyinkyim’s lines moving one direction, then the opposite whenever I hear the word “pivot,” by now one of the most overused (and misused) terms bandied about since the start of the pandemic. For the LIS sector, where our mission is more important than ever despite changes in external conditions and internal resources, business … Continue reading The Pivot and the Path


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

A Little Light to See By

July 8, 2021

I was almost through with a first draft when a nagging truth asserted itself, insisting I speak to it: that the challenges, uncertainties, and indeed, opportunities we have faced during and emerging from the pandemic have taken their toll on us, in the form of worry, fatigue, and stress. And yes, though I firmly and … Continue reading A Little Light to See By



Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

A Hurting Thing

May 3, 2021

Usually the calls were about the kids who frequented the library—which ones had graduated, who was off to college or the military, and sometimes, sadly, who had been shot or killed, or gone to jail. One call still haunts me: A teenage boy I knew well was facing serious time in a juvenile detention center. … Continue reading A Hurting Thing


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Revolutions Where We Stand

March 1, 2021

Those words seem especially prescient now as we look across the country at the libraries that have struggled most during this period of widespread library defunding and service reductions. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, there has long been an unmistakable correlation between communities that navigate high rates of poverty and those that … Continue reading Revolutions Where We Stand


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Defending the Fifth Freedom

January 4, 2021

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. About 698 per 100,000 of the national population are in some form of detention. According to a March 2020 report from the Prison Policy Initiative, the US criminal justice system detains almost 2.3 million people in various facilities in the US and its territories. Chief … Continue reading Defending the Fifth Freedom


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Ending Information Redlining

November 2, 2020

In my most recent column, I called out equitable information access as a matter of social justice and questioned how ALA and its collective constituency might work even more intentionally to eradicate information poverty. I want to pick up this discussion. Let’s look at the pervasive and persistent inequities in information and digital access—and the … Continue reading Ending Information Redlining