PLA Frequently Asked Questions
The Public Library Association (PLA), with more than 9,000 members, is one of the fastest growing divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. PLA’s purpose is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and services.
Founded in 1944, PLA is a member-driven organization that provides a diverse program of publication, advocacy, continuing education, and programming for its members and others interested in the advancement of public library service.
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)
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 managment, and the Public Library Data Service (PLDS) Statistical Report.
PLA’s website offers instant information about PLA membership, products, and activities.
Conferences and programs include:
- PLA Conferences
Every other year, thousands of public librarians, exhibitors, educators and others interested in public libraries come together at the largest national conference devoted exclusively to public librarianship. PLA Conferences offer top-quality continuing education programs and special events, including preconferences, author programs, and a bustling exhibits hall. The next PLA Conference is March 11–15, 2014 in Indianapolis, Ind.
- PLA Virtual Spring Symposium
This engaging day of premier, online education for public library professionals offers programs, opportunities for interaction, and an inspiring closing keynote. Held in the spring of non-National Conference years, PLA's next Virtual Spring Symposium will be presented March 20, 2013.
- PLA Programs at ALA Annual Conferences
PLA offers several programs and preconference programs during the ALA Annual Conference. In addition, several special PLA member events are held at ALA’s Annual Conference including the President’s Program and Reception.
The PLA 2014 Conference is March 11–15, 2014 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Contact PLA’s Exhibit Managers:
Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expo
100 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
Contact Linda Bostrom, PLA Manager of Professional Development, at 800-545-2433, ext. 5027, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)