PLA Frequently Asked Questions
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA offers continuing education opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnership. In collaboration with its parent organization, the American Library Association, PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders
PLA’s priority concerns are:
- Adequate funding for public libraries;
- Improved management of public libraries;
- Recognition of the importance of all library staff members in providing quality public service;
- Recruitment, education, training, and compensation of public librarians;
- Intellectual freedom;
- Improved access to library resources;
- Effective communication with the nonlibrary world.
Public Library Association
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5PLA (5752)
You can connect with PLA members via social media and Connect @ PLA.
Librarians, library workers, library trustees, libraries, library vendors, anyone who supports libraries may join PLA. Dues vary according by type of membership. PLA members must also join our parent organization ALA. Membership forms are also included in the ALA Handbook of Organization; ALA’s Fax on Demand, 1-800-545-2433, press 4; or from Membership Customer Services, 1-800-545-2433, press 5. PLA members receive the periodical publication Public Libraries, preferred rates on PLA continuing education events, and on PLA publications. PLA membership also includes ALA member benefits such as the monthly American Libraries magazine, discounts on ALA conference fees and ALA books and products. Only personal members of PLA have the right to vote in PLA elections, serve on PLA committees, and hold PLA office.
A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is necessary for librarian positions in most public libraries. Employers often prefer graduates of the library and information studies programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
The ALA offers scholarships for continuing library education, including the Spectrum Scholarships for African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan Native students in graduate programs in library and information studies and Century Scholarships for graduate students with disabilities.
For listings of jobs check:
Also, check with your state library association for jobs in your area.
PLA’s publishing program provides top quality books and monographs on a wide range of public library concerns and issues. Notable publications include the popular Results Series of guides to public library management, and the Public Library Data Service (PLDS) Statistical Report.
The PLA 2018 Conference will be held March 20–24, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pa. The biennial PLA Conference holds a reputation for excellence as the largest conference devoted to public library professionals. The multi-day event offers over 100 top-quality education programs, social events that include author luncheons and networking receptions, and a bustling exhibits hall featuring the latest in products and services.
Contact PLA’s Exhibit Managers:
Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions
100 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
Contact Angela Maycock, Manager, Continuing Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-545-2433, ext. 5024.
Yes. For vendors, there are many opportunities to support PLA and libraries through contributions and donations to the PLA Partners program. Individuals can support PLA's efforts to strengthen public libraries and the communities they serve by becoming a Friend of PLA.
Yes. PLA confers many different types of awards each year. More information is available on our Awards page.
PLA is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors. PLA members elect these voting members of the Board: PLA President; PLA President-Elect/Vice-President; PLA Past-President; six Directors At-Large, and the PLA Division Councilor. The PLA Executive Director is an ex-officio and non-voting member of the PLA Board. For more information about PLA’s organizational structure, see the PLA Bylaws.
Individual libraries are responsible for their own collections. There is no one place that distributes books to all libraries. However, some main libraries purchase books for their branches as well as themselves; and some libraries purchase their books through such distributors as Baker & Taylor, Ingram Book Services, Blackwell’s Book Services, and other book suppliers and wholesalers.
For more information on telling libraries about your own book and its availability to them, please review the information in the ALA library’s fact sheets, as follows:
- Fact Sheet 5, Marketing to Libraries
Lists strategies for informing the library community about your product or service (especially books).
- Fact Sheet 3, Lists of Libraries
Lists companies which sell mailing lists and mailing labels of libraries.
- Fact Sheet 9, Library Products and Services
Lists online and print resources which compile names of library vendors (including book distributors) if you wish to contact book distributors directly to see if they would be interested in providing your book to libraries.
Neither PLA nor ALA coordinate programs for book donations. For general information, please see the library fact sheet, Sending Books to Needy Libraries.
There are more than 16,600 library locations (including branches) in the United States. (Source: American Library Association, State of America’s Libraries, April 2009)
More than 25 million Americans used their public library more than 20 times in the past year, an increase of 23 percent from 2006. Close to half (45.6 percent) of all public libraries reported increased use of their electronic resources (which encompass a range of Internet-based services, including jobs databases, online test preparation services, investment tools, reference sources, and downloadable books and audio), and more than one-quarter reported increased use of patron technology training classes. (Source: American Library Association , State of America’s Libraries, April 2009)