The office of president is a key part of PLA’s stewardship team. The work of the Association is guided by a combination of the President, Board, committees, and staff all working together to implement the PLA strategic plan. This memo provides information about the role and responsibilities of the office of the PLA President.
The office of president carries a three-year term of service commitment:
- 1st year: President-Elect
- 2nd year: President
- 3rd year: Past-President
Upon election, the three-year term on the PLA Board of Directors begins as President-Elect, after the election year's ALA Annual Conference. There are no official responsibilities at the election year's Annual Conference.
During the three-year term, attendance is required at the following meetings:
At ALA conferences
PLA Board Meetings: Please note that though we do not anticipate changes, the schedule is subject to change. There is typically one board meeting at Midwinter and one at Annual; both on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1:30 PM and ending at approximately 4:30 PM. The Board uses a consent agenda and is actively engaged in knowledge-based decision making as a fundamental organizational protocol. The Board meetings are scheduled so that they do not conflict with the ALA Council meetings.
President’s Breakfast: Typically, all of the division Presidents, Presidents-Elect and Past-Presidents have breakfast on Sunday morning at both Midwinter and Annual Conference.
PLA President’s Program and Awards Ceremony at ALA Annual Conference: The President’s Program is scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 PM. The time is predicated by the time-slots ALA makes available for scheduling meetings. The PLA President presides at this event.
President’s Luncheon: Typically, the ALA President and President-Elect host luncheons for their division counterparts. These luncheons are held on Saturdays at Midwinter and Annual Conference.
All-Committee Meeting: PLA encourages all committees and working groups to meet during the all-committee meeting time, Saturday morning at Annual and Midwinter. Typically, Board members will serve on one or more of these committees as a member or as liaison. During the PLA presidential year, the President may have a speaking role to kick off the all committee meeting.
Specific to PLA President-Elect: ALA convenes an inaugural event for each incoming presidential class at the Annual Conference. Tentatively, it is scheduled for Tuesday morning for the PLA President-Elect.
Specific to the PLA Past-President: PLA hosts a past-president breakfast at Annual and Midwinter, usually at 8:00 AM on Monday.
Fall PLA Board of Directors Meeting: Generally scheduled to coincide with the ALA Executive Board meeting in Chicago, the PLA Board meets on Friday morning; a concurrent session is held at this meeting where all of the divisions Executive Committees meet with the ALA Executive Board on Friday afternoon. Assuming the agenda requires it, the PLA Board meeting resumes on Saturday morning and finishes by noon.
Specific to PLA President-Elect: ALA convenes a leadership development activity for all division president-elects, typically held in the fall, in Chicago, prior to the Fall Board of Directors meeting.
Spring PLA Board of Directors Meeting: This meeting is usually held via conference call; budget permitting and depending upon the agenda, an in-person meeting may be scheduled. Once again, the Board uses a consent agenda and is actively engaged in knowledge-based decision making as a fundamental organizational protocol. It is very important that Board members read the Board documents prior to the Board meetings so that the Board can spend their time together as productively as possible.
PLA Conference: The PLA President presides during this conference (held biennially in even years) and will share conference responsibilities with the PLA President-Elect. The specifics will be determined closer to the conference in consultation with the President, President-Elect, and staff.
I Love my Librarian Award: The PLA President, along with ALA, ACRL, and AASL representatives, serves on a jury to select the winner of this award, which is sponsored by the New York Times/Carnegie Foundation. The award is contingent on that support; assuming it continues, the PLA president will serve on the jury, which will do its work in the Fall. The PLA President is invited to attend the award event in New York in early December, date TBD.
Invitations to other meetings: The PLA President may be invited to attend and/or speak at conferences and events; these vary each year. In general, the organization issuing the invitation will support travel. If the President is unable to attend, another Board member may attend at the discretion of the President.
NOTE: PLA pays for housing and travel expenses for attendance at the fall/spring meetings. PLA does not pay travel expenses for attendance at ALA Annual Conference, ALA Midwinter Meeting, or PLA Conference.
The PLA President is responsible for writing six columns that will appear in Public Libraries, the journal of the Public Library Association. The editor of the journal will contact the President with information about column length, style, and deadlines.
The office of the president makes the appointments to most PLA committees and appoints liaisons to a selected group of ALA committees. Additionally, the president-elect is responsible for making appointments to a few committees. PLA staff will notify each regarding appointments soon after the announcement of the election results.
The PLA President routinely receives many calls from the press. Most calls are routed to the President through the ALA Public Information Office. PIO and PLA will provide the President with talking points and background information as needed; the PLA President-elect will receive media training during the president-elect orientation in the fall.
The PLA President typically introduces the PLA webinars, usually held once a month. PLA staff will script the introductions and will provide an orientation to the webinar platform.
ALA policy prohibits service on more than three committees. If elected, you may have to limit your other association activities during your three-year term of service, as PLA Board meetings take precedence over other association activities.
Information and resources
The PLA website is an excellent source of information about PLA. You will note there that PLA maintains Facebook and Twitter sites. In addition, PLA members and staff are on the ALA member network, ALA Connect, see: https://connect.ala.org/pla.
If you would like to review board meeting agendas or documents for the past few years’ meetings, please contact Julianna Kloeppel (email@example.com).
A handy calendar of ALA planned dates can be found on the ALA website.
Future ALA conferences dates and locations may also be found on the ALA website.
PLA is a strong and vibrant organization as a result of the wonderful member leaders who contribute their time and talents to the organization. Thank you for your support of PLA and for agreeing to run for this vital leadership position. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-545-2433 ext. 5028.