ALA Emerging Leaders Program

Emerging Leaders 2019 Class Photo

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.



Class of 2020 Emerging Leaders Announced

2020 Emerging Leaders

Accepting Applications for the 2020 Class of Emerging Leaders

Meet the 2019 Class of Emerging Leaders at ALA Annual Conference

Class of 2019 Emerging Leaders Announced

2019 Emerging Leaders

Accepting Applications for the 2019 Class of Emerging Leaders

Meet the 2018 Class of Emerging Leaders at the Poster Session

Class of 2018 Emerging Leaders Announced

2018 Emerging Leaders

Accepting Applications for the 2018 Class of Emerging Leaders

Class of 2017 Emerging Leaders Announced

2017 Emerging Leaders


Selection Criteria

The selection committee seeks diversity based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to 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/support staff level in a library; If you worked in a library and subsequently earned your MLS, we will not count the time worked prior to receiving your MLS towards the total number of years worked.
  2. Be able to attend both ALA conferences and work virtually in between the two conferences
  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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not have a new class of Emerging Leaders for the 2021 year. We made this decision with the intent to allow the current class (2020) of Emerging Leaders to complete their projects and hopefully enjoy the full experience of the program. We will open the application process for a new class in June of 2021.

We will adjust the selection criteria for the upcoming year. Any applicant who would have met the 5-years or less experience criteria this year, will be considered for the program if application is made next year. Applicants will not be penalized because application to the program could not be made this year.

Applications must be submitted online.  Deadline for submission of the application and all references is August 30 each yearThe application process is currently closed. 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 30.  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.  A list of sponsoring organizations is included on the application. 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 will include travel and hotel to attend both ALA Conferences.

Applications for the next class will open in June 2021.


Roles and Responsibilities

There are a variety of roles that are important for the success of the Emerging Leaders program. View the roles and responsibilities page for descriptions of each role. We include information for sponsors, project hosts, member guides, participants, project teams, and staff liaisons.


Project Proposal Process

If you are interested in submitting a project, you should review the project proposal process.

The deadline for all project proposal submissions is October 1, 2019. Complete the online Project Proposal Form.


Over-sight Committee

The Emerging Leaders Working Group has over-sight of the Emerging Leaders Program.


Project Manager

Beatrice Calvin, MA, Counseling, CDF; Manager of Professional Development, HRDR & ALA-APA
If you have questions, or need more information, contact Beatrice Calvin at 800/545-2433 ext. 4280.