CHICAGO — Larry Neal, director of the Clinton-Macomb (Mich.) Public Library, has been elected the 2014-2015 president of the Public Library Association (PLA).
Neal acknowledged, “I feel deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve such an outstanding organization that strives to strengthen public libraries and library professionals. I look forward to following the leadership of PLA president Eva Poole and PLA president-elect Carolyn Anthony and to continuing their efforts to enhance our libraries’ contributions to the communities we serve.”
Neal has a prolific and longstanding involvement in PLA, serving on the PLA Board (2006-09) and numerous PLA committees including: PLA Conference Committee (2014 chair) and Program Subcommittee several times; CE Advisory Committee; Institutional Scholarship Task Force; Leadership Development Committee; Monographs Subcommittee; Nominating Committee; Recruitment of Public Librarians Committee; and Technology Committee.
Neal is passionate about cultivating and championing the next generation of library professionals and has been actively involved with ALA Emerging Leaders, PLA Spectrum Scholarships and “Tomorrow’s Professionals” programs at the state level. In 2009 as the newly-minted president of the Michigan Library Association, his first major task was to lead a rally at the state capital in protest of significant proposed cuts to library funding. After spearheading three millage campaigns in three years on his personal time, he finally succeeded in securing library services for his home city of Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) in 2011. He is a 2007 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Larry and his partner have two beautiful, rollicking Irish setters.
Neal will become PLA president-elect at the conclusion of the American Library Association (ALA) 2013 Annual Conference this June and will assume the PLA presidency in June 2014 for one year.
Also on the ballot were two three-year term board vacancies. PLA members elected Melinda Cervantes, executive director, Pima County (Ariz.) Public Library, and Jay Turner, director of continuing education and training, Georgia Public Library Service, to fill these positions. Cervantes’ personal statement emphasizes her belief in the power of PLA to be a vehicle for public library support and advocacy. “At a time when public libraries are treading water due to reduced local, state, and federal funding, we continue to work together on behalf of the public to fight for access to digital content, intellectual freedom, privacy of records, hours of operation, and in some communities the mere existence of public libraries. Our voices are needed now more than ever.” And Turner, having worked in multiple capacities throughout public libraries, brings a unique perspective and insight to the needs of both customers and staff. His personal statement highlights his passion to build “creative partnerships and innovative technological solutions to leverage sometimes limited resources into progressive results for public libraries and their customers.”
PLA thanks all the candidates who stood for election, as well as the PLA Nominating Committee (Chair Audra Caplan, retired director, Harford County (Md.) Public Library) for providing a strong and worthy slate of candidates. Thanks also to the PLA members who voted in the elections. Their efforts to impact and enhance PLA are extremely valuable to the future of the organization.
PLA is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve, and its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.