The American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations.
The EL program will kick off with a day-long session during the LibLearnX event. Selected participants are encouraged to attend the full LibLearnX event for professional development opportunities. After the full-day face-to-face session, the program grows and develops in an online learning and networking environment for six months. The program culminates with a poster session presentation to display the results of the project planning work of each group at the ALA Annual Conference.
Participants commit to participating in all aspects of the program. Participants may be offered an opportunity to serve on an ALA, division, chapter, or round table committee, task force or workgroup as well as other library-related groups upon completion of program. However, appointments are not guaranteed.
The program is limited to no more than 50 participants each year.
The selection committee seeks diversity based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to geography, gender, ethnicity and type of library. Particular attention is given to candidates' personal statements as well as those of their references. No more than one person from any institution can be selected for participation in the program per year. Preference will be given to those who do not have experience working on ALA committees, task forces, etc. and to those who meet the following criteria:
- Selected participants must be a new library professional of any age with fewer than 5 years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional/support staff level in a library; If you worked in a library and subsequently earned your MLS, we will not count the time worked prior to receiving your MLS towards the total number of years worked.
- Selected participants must be willing and able to attend both ALA conferences and work virtually in between the two conferences. Attendance at both conferences is a REQUIREMENT.
- Selected participants must not be currently enrolled in, or applying to a program that requires participation during the Emerging Leaders' full-day events scheduled at both the ALA LibLearnX event or the ALA Annual Conference during the year of program participation.
Conference Dates & Locations for 2024
- LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience (LLX), Baltimore, MD, January 19-22, 2024
- Annual Conference & Exhibition, San Diego, CA, June 27 - July 2, 2024
- Be prepared to commit to serve on an ALA, Division, Chapter, or Round Table committee, task force or workgroup, or your state or local library organization upon completion of program, and
- Be an ALA member, and if sponsored by an organization, a member of that organization.
Applying to the Program
The application for the next cohort is now closed. The deadline to apply and submit all materials (including references) was September 9, 2023.
Applications must be submitted online. Deadline for submission of the application and all references is September 9, 2023 for the current round of applications. Once an application has been submitted, persons listed as references in the application will receive automated notices with appropriate links to complete statements of reference. All reference letters, letters of support, etc. should be submitted online by the same deadline. Note: The program is limited to approximately 50 participants each year. About two-thirds of selected participants will be sponsored. As part of the application, you may select various organizations that you would like to consider you for sponsorship. A list of sponsoring organizations is included on the application. However, sponsorship is not required to participate in the program. If you are not sponsored, you will be expected to pay all of your own expenses which will include travel and hotel to attend both ALA Conferences.
The application for the next cohort will be open in mid-June 2024.
Roles and Responsibilities
There are a variety of roles that are important for the success of the Emerging Leaders program. View the roles and responsibilities page for descriptions of each role. We include information for sponsors, project hosts, member guides, participants, project teams, and staff liaisons.
- Currently accepting sponsors for the new class of ELs. Sponsors provide financial support of at least $1,000 ($500 per conference) for each Emerging Leader chosen as your individual participant. Sponsors can be any unit of ALA, including Divisions, Round Tables, Chapters, Affiliates, or any individual. Any group interested in sponsoring an Emerging Leader should complete the form when it is available.
Project Proposal Process
If you are interested in submitting a project, you should review the project proposal process.
The project proposal process is will open soon for the next cohort of participants. The form is usually available early August of each year. The deadline for all project proposal submissions is October 1, of each year. Complete the online Project Proposal Form when we begin accepting forms.
The Emerging Leaders Working Group has over-sight of the Emerging Leaders Program.
Christina Fuller-Gregory, Assistant Director of Libraries, SC Governors School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC; Emerging Leader 2017 Cohort
Libby Holtmann, Director, Plano Public Library, Plano, TX
Beatrice Calvin, M.A., Counseling, CWWS, CDF; Manager of Professional Development, HRDR & ALA-APA
If you have questions, or need more information, contact Beatrice Calvin at 800/545-2433 ext. 4280.