ALA Emerging Leaders Program

The American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations.

The  EL program kicks off with a day-long session during the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Afterward, it grows and develops in an online learning and networking environment for six months.  The program culminates with a poster session presentation to display the results of the project planning work of each group at the ALA Annual Conference.

Participants commit to participating in all aspects of the program.  Participants may be offered an opportunity to serve on  an ALA, division, chapter, or round table committee, task force or workgroup as well as other library-related groups upon completion of program.  However, appointments are not guaranteed.

The program is limited to no more than 50 participants each year.

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 class of Emerging Leaders.




Class of 2017 Emerging Leaders Announced

2017 Emerging Leaders

Accepting Applications for the 2017 Class of Emerging Leaders


Meet the 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders at a Poster Session during the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando


Class of 2016 Emerging Leaders Announced


Meet the 2015 class of Emerging Leaders at a poster session during ALA Annual Conference


Class of 2015 Emerging Leaders announced


Emerging Leaders in the News

Meet the Library World's Rising Stars
- American Libraries Magazine article on EL Class of 2015

My Time as an Emerging Leader
- American Libraries article by Alexia Hudson-Ward


Selection Criteria

The selection committee seeks diversity based on geography, gender, ethnicity and type of library. Particular attention is given to candidates' personal statements as well as those of their references. No more than one person from any institution can be selected for participation in the program per year.  Preference will be given to those who do not have experience working on ALA committees, task forces, etc.and to those who meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a new library professional of any age with fewer than 5 years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level in a library and
  2. Be able to attend both ALA conferences and work virtually in between the two conferences and
  3. Be prepared to commit to serve on an ALA, Division, Chapter, or Round Table committee, task force or workgroup, or your state or local library organization upon completion of program, and
  4. Be an ALA member, and if sponsored by an organization, a member of that organization. 

Applying to the Program

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 class of Emerging Leaders. Applications for the 2017 class of Emerging Leaders are now closed.   We will begin accepting new applications for the next class in May.  Applications me must be submitted online.  Deadline for submission of the application and all references is August 1.  Once an application has been submitted, persons listed as references in the application will receive automated notices with appropriate links to complete statements of reference.  All reference letters, letters of support, etc. should be submitted online by the same deadline, August 1.  Note: The program is limited to approximately 50 participants each year.  About two-thirds of selected participants will be sponsored.  As part of the application, you may select various organizations that you would like to consider you for sponsorship.  However, sponsorship is not required to participate in the program.  If you are not sponsored, you will be expected to pay all of your own expenses which may include travel and hotel to attend both ALA Conferences.

The Application for the 2018 class of Emerging Leaders will be available in June 2017.


Roles and Responsibilities

ALA Emerging Leaders Roles and Responsibilities

Emerging Leader Sponsor

Provides financial support of at least $1,000 ($500 per conference) for each Emerging Leader chosen as your individual participant. Sponsors can be any unit of ALA, including Divisions, Round Tables, Chapters, Affiliates, or any Individual. Please note that ALA does not provide additional funds. Complete Intent to Sponsor form  (online form).

Project Host

Submits a project to be worked on by an EL project Team. The unit will come up with a project topic and assign a staff liaison and member mentor. In order for any entity to host a project, the group must have an ALA staff liaison and an ALA member mentor.

Review the Project Proposal Submission Guidelines

Member Guide

Serves as a source of support. Acts as a resource person for the project team. Monitors the teams progress. Maintains regular communication with the designated liaison from the team. Attends a working session at the Midwinter Meeting in order to explain the goals of the project.

Project Team (EL Participants)

Ensures that the project meets the stated objectives. Decides how to communicate and carry out the work. Completes the project on time.

Team Member (EL Participants)

Makes a firm commitment to contribute his or her personal best. Ensures that his or her work satisfies the needs of the project and is completed on time.

ALA Staff Liaison

Ensures that the project has clear direction and support. Makes sure the project team understands the project requirements. Serves as the primary resource on content and ALA policy questions. Provides resources

Program Facilitator

Maureen Sullivan, Organizational Development Consultant

Project Manager

Beatrice Calvin
If you have questions, or need more information, contact Beatrice Calvin at 800/545-2433 ext. 4280.