Candidate for PLA President (2015–2016)

James Cooper

Candidate for PLA President (2015–2016) James Cooper


James (Jim) Cooper has had the privilege of serving as the director of Salt Lake County (Utah) Library Services for the past 12 years. The system serves more than 800,000 residents with 22 libraries, 580 staff and circulation surpassing 16 million in 2013.

During Jim’s tenure the library has pioneered library services inside jails and health clinics as well as expanded services for refugees, at-risk youth and special needs populations. He has overseen planning and construction of 11 libraries including six new LEED-certified buildings. In 2012 the library’s new 25,000 square-foot Viridian Event Center and amphitheater opened and has quickly become a popular new library-centered meeting and program venue for the community.

Jim’s responsibilities revolve around extensive promotion of library services, strategic planning and resource utilization. Like other public libraries, Salt Lake County Library is expected to anticipate and respond to community needs—provide excellent collections, maintain comfortable facilities and deliver outstanding customer service.

Jim served on the 2006 and 2007 PLA Gordon M. Conable Award jury and the PLA 2010 National Conference program subcommittee. He currently serves on the PLA 2014 National Conference Committee and chairs the PLA E-Books Working Group.

Prior to becoming a Director Jim served as a Library Board Trustee and chair from 1994 to 2001. In his previous career managing public lands and natural resources, he represented Utah in negotiations with the U.S. Department of the Interior resulting in the creation of the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Jim is an environmental science graduate of Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado and a lifelong activist for equality in civil and human rights.

Personal Statement

“Most of the public libraries I know are running at warp speed to keep up with shifting landscapes on limited budgets, often without acknowledgment let alone accolades. Our association opens doors for the exchange of ideas and advice to help us adapt to the rapid pace of change.

I believe that PLA delivers value to its membership with peer networking, leadership development, continuing education, assistance with local library issues and with a top-notch PLA conference experience.

The 2012 PLA membership survey asked PLA to take a proactive leadership role with resources, education and public awareness about the value of libraries. We are in a crucial time to use every available opportunity to promote our successes and broaden our base and I will work with our membership towards that goal.

Thank you for considering my candidacy.”