The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA offers professional development and networking, transformative 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.
Download the PLA fact sheet (PDF, 2 pgs.) to learn more.
Public Library Association
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5PLA (5752)
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.
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.
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.
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 News, American 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.
I'd like to grow and develop as a public library professional. What learning opportunities does PLA offer?
The biennial PLA Conference has 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.
The PLA Leadership Academy is designed to empower participants with the knowledge necessary to be innovative and successful leaders of change in public 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.
The PLA 2020 Conference will be held February 25–29, 2020, in Nashville, TN. The most recent conference, PLA 2018 Conference, was held March 20–24, 2018, in Philadelphia, PA.
Contact PLA’s Exhibit Managers:
Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions
100 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-545-2433, ext. 5024.
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 email@example.com 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.
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: 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.
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 LibGuides and fact sheets, as follows:
- ALA LibGuide: Marketing to Libraries
Tips for authors, small publishers, and others who wish to reach the library market.
- ALA LibGuide: Lists of Libraries
A selection of library directories and mailing lists.
- ALA 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 information about how to donate books to needy libraries, please see the ALA Library's LibGuide, Book Donation Programs.
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)
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)