CHICAGO – Today, Molly Raphael, former director of libraries at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Ore. and the District of Columbia Public Library in Washington, D.C., began her term as 2011-2012 president of the American Library Association (ALA).
As ALA president, Raphael is the chief elected officer of the oldest and largest library organization in the world. Established in 1876, the American Library Association has nearly 61,000 members. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.
“Libraries are so essential for learning and for life,” said Raphael. “I am honored to lead ALA as we help libraries address serious economic, social, political and technological challenges. ALA is the only organization that speaks for all types of libraries, and we can all benefit from working together to serve our communities. Libraries will not just survive but will thrive when those who use and value libraries join with those who work in libraries to sustain the critical roles of libraries in our society.”
Raphael retired after six years as director of libraries at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Ore., which serves a population of more than 700,000 with a budget of $60 million and more than 500 employees. During her tenure, she passed a five-year, voter-approved operating levy (more than $176 million for 5 years); implemented many new programs and services; worked with The Library Foundation of Multnomah County to raise more than $12 million. Under her leadership, Multnomah County Library achieved consistently top rankings among urban public libraries and was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2009, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries.
She previously served as director of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) from 1997-2003, after holding various positions at DCPL, beginning in 1970 as an assistant children’s librarian.
While at DCPL, she established and co-chaired the Labor Management Partnership Council; introduced an Enhanced Business Information Center; launched outreach efforts to address early literacy needs for children at-risk and literacy programs for adult new readers; built partnerships with the K-12 schools, academic institutions and many nonprofits; and hosted many visiting foreign diplomats and senior US government officials. During her DCPL tenure, Raphael launched the first public library service in the nation to serve the deaf community in 1975.
Raphael has served in a number of capacities with ALA as early as 1976, when she was co-founder and first chair of the ALA committee and then the ASCLA Section on Library Service to the Deaf. She was president of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) in 2008-09, served on the ALA Executive Board from 2000-03 and has served three terms as ALA Councilor at Large (2003-06, 1998-2002, 1985-89).
She has also been a member and chair of the ALA’s Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC), Committee on Professional Ethics, Nominating Committee (serving as chair, in 1998-99), Equality Award Jury, Intellectual Freedom Committee, and Coordinating Committee on Access to Information. In addition, she has been a member of various committees in PLA, LLAMA, ASCLA, and RUSA.
Raphael was president of the District of Columbia Library Association in 1987-88. She has chaired the National Library Legislative Day Committee, was D.C. vice chair for the Martin Luther King Holiday Commission and served on the Freedom to Read Foundation Board of Directors. She has also been an active member of the Urban Libraries Council, the OCLC Public Library Advisory Committee, the Friends of the Oberlin College Library, and Friends of libraries USA.
Her honors include the Arthur Flemming Civil Rights Award for efforts to increase diversity in library employment, collections and programming at Multnomah County Library. She has also received the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science Alumni Achievement Award, several District of Columbia Labor Management Partnership Council Awards, and an Honorary Life Membership in the District of Columbia Library Association.
Raphael holds an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College (Ohio) and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Simmons College (Mass.).
Maureen Sullivan, an organization development consultant, today also began her term as ALA president-elect. She will assume the ALA presidency in June 2012 at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.