PLA Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is PLA?

How do I contact PLA staff or members?

Who can join PLA? What does it cost? And what are the benefits?

How can I become a public librarian?

Where do I find listings for jobs in public libraries?

I'd like to grow and develop as a public library professional. What learning opportunities does PLA offer?

When and where is the next PLA Conference?

How do I exhibit at a PLA Conference?

I'd like to share my ideas and experience with other public library professionals. What opportunities does PLA offer for presenting or publishing?

How can I become a sponsor or contribute financially to PLA?

Does PLA have an awards program for members?

What is PLA’s governance structure?

I have written a book. How can I market it to public libraries?

I have some books I no longer want. How can I donate them to public libraries?

How many public libraries are there in the United States?

Who uses the public library?

What is PLA?    

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.

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How do I contact PLA staff or members?    

Public Library Association
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5PLA (5752)
Fax: 312-280-5029
Email: pla@ala.org

Find the most appropriate person to help you in the PLA staff directory.

You can connect with PLA members via social media and Connect @ PLA.

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Who can join PLA? What does it cost? And what are the benefits?    

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. You can join online, print and fill out a membership form and fax or mail it in, or call the ALA Member and Customer Service Center at 1-800-545-2433 and press 5.

PLA members receive the periodical publication Public Libraries, preferred rates on PLA continuing education events, and on PLA publications. Only personal members of PLA have the right to vote in PLA elections, serve on PLA committees, and hold PLA office. PLA membership also includes ALA member benefits such as the monthly American Libraries magazine, discounts on ALA conference fees and ALA books and products. View a complete list of benefits.

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How can I become a public librarian?    

There are many fulfilling careers in public librarianship. 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.

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Where do I find listings for jobs in public libraries?    

For listings of jobs check:

  • ALA JobLIST
    Your #1 source for careers in Library & Information Science and Technology.  Online job ads and more from C&RL NewsAmerican Libraries, and ALA's Human Resources Development and Recruitment.
     
  • Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) Job Site
    Jobs in Library Information & Technology.
     
  • ALA JobLIST Placement Center
    Operates in conjunction with the ALA Midwinter Meetings, ALA Annual Conferences, and National Conferences of ALA units/groups. Employers conduct on-site interviews and career guidance workshops along with resume review services are provided for jobseekers.

Also, check with your state library association for jobs in your area.

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I'd like to grow and develop as a public library professional. What learning opportunities does PLA offer?

The biennial PLA Conference hss 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.

PLA also offers preconferences and educational programs at ALA Annual Conference and ALA Midwinter Meeting; robust in-person and blended learning events; and convenient online learning programs.

The PLA Leadership Academy is designed to empower participants with the knowledge necessary to be innovative and successful leaders of change in pujblic libraries. The PLA Dynamic Planning Institute delivers best practices in strategic planning for libraries with a unique focus on simple, low-cost planning.

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 Every Child Ready to Read materials.

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When and where is the next PLA Conference?    

The PLA 2018 Conference will be held March 20–24, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pa.

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How do I exhibit at a PLA Conference?    

Contact PLA’s Exhibit Managers:

Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions
100 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-541-0567
Fax: 312-541-0573
Email: carly@corcexpo.com

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I'd like to share my ideas and experience with other public library professionals. What opportunities does PLA offer for presenting or publishing?    

PLA accepts proposals for educational programs and preconferences at its biennial PLA Conference and at ALA Annual Conference. Proposal periods typically close 10-12 months prior to each conference. Visit PLA's Conferences and Preconferences page to learn more about current events and opportunities.

If you have an idea for a webinar you'd like PLA to present, please submit a proposal.

Contact Angela Maycock, Manager, Continuing Education, at amaycock@ala.org or 800-545-2433, ext. 5024, with any questions about PLA educational programming.

PLA offers a number of publishing opportunities. If you have an idea for an article or other publication you'd like PLA to publish, please contact Kathleen Hughes, Manager, Publications, at khughes@ala.org or 800-545-2433, ext. 5024.

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How can I become a sponsor or contribute financially to PLA?    

For corporate and foundation supporters, there are many opportunities to support public libraries through contributions and donations to PLA. For more information, contact Scott Allen, Deputy Director, at sallen@ala.org or 800-545-2433 ext. 5858. Individuals can support PLA's efforts to strengthen public libraries and the communities they serve by becoming a Friend of PLA.

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Does PLA have an awards program for members?    

Yes. PLA confers many different types of awards each year. More information is available on our Awards page.

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What is PLA’s governance structure?    

PLA is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors. PLA members elect these voting members of the Board: President, President-Elect, Past-President, six Directors-at-Large, and the ALA 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.

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I have written a book. How can I market it to public libraries?    

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:

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I have some books I no longer want. How can I donate them to public libraries?    

Neither PLA nor ALA coordinate programs for book donations. For general information, please see the ALA library's LibGuide, Book Donation Programs.

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How many public libraries are there in the United States?    

The United States has 8,895 public library administrative units plus 7,641 branches and bookmobiles, for a total of 16,536 library locations. (Source: American Library Association, State of America's Libraries Report 2017)

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Who uses the public library?    

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)

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