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 my benefits?

How can I become a public librarian?

Where do I find listings for jobs in public libraries?

What are some of PLA’s publications and continuing education opportunities?

When and where is the next PLA Conference?

How do I exhibit at a PLA Conference?

I have an idea for a program at a PLA event. Who do I contact?

Can I contribute financially to PLA?

Does PLA have an awards program for members?

What is PLA’s governing 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), 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.

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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

PLA Staff and Contact Page

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 my 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. 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.

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How can I become a public librarian?    

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:

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

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What are some of PLA’s publications and continuing education opportunities?    

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.

Information about continuing education opportunities is available on our Conferences and Continuing Education and Online Learning pages.

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When and where is the next PLA Conference?    

The PLA 2014 Conference is March 11–15, 2014 in Indianapolis, Ind. The biennial PLA Conference holds a reputation for excellence as the largest conference devoted to public library professionals. The multi-day event offers nearly 200 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.

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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 have an idea for a program at a PLA event. Who do I contact?    

Contact Linda Bostrom, PLA Manager of Professional Development, at 800-545-2433, ext. 5027, or at lbostrom@ala.org.

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Can I contribute financially to PLA?    

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.

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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 governing structure?    

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.

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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 library fact sheet, Sending Books to Needy Libraries.

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How many public libraries are there in the United States?    

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)

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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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