For immediate release | February 15, 2022

ALA names Maureen Sullivan Honorary Member

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) Council elected former ALA President Maureen Sullivan to honorary membership in the association, the ALA's highest honor, during the virtual 2022 Library Learning Experience. Honorary membership is conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions of lasting importance to libraries and librarianship.

Sullivan is honored for her lasting contribution to the field of librarianship through her service to the profession and ALA, her work on organizational change, leadership development, and her consulting practice that has reached thousands of librarians.

Sullivan served as ALA president from 2012-2013 and was co-chair of the Emerging Leaders Initiative from 2006-2010 and 2013-18 as well as chair of the Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Board from 1989-1995. She has served as president of both the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL,1998-99) and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA -1988-89). During her term as ACRL president she worked with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to establish the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, offered annually since 1999.

During her ALA presidency, she created the ALA Leadership Institute, an immersive leadership development program for future library leaders that she presented with Kathryn Deiss. It focuses on core competencies of leadership and is held annually in the Chicago area.

Also during her term as ALA president, she formed a partnership with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation; ALA was a signer of the U.S. State Department's Declaration of Learning, a program developed by the Curator of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the State Department to make its collections available through a digital platform, during Secretary Hillary Clinton's term; partnered with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to establish the Library Leadership in a Digital Age program; worked with the Aspen Institute to create and launch its Gates Foundation-funded program, “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Imagining Public Libraries”; led delegations to meet with publishers in New York to address the e-book issue; and started the next ALA Strategic Plan, one focused on a few key areas and using an inclusive process.

Her 2010 book, “Developing Library Leaders: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Coaching, Team Building and Mentoring Library Staff” (with Robert D. Stueart) is widely regarded as the authoritative source on these topics. Maureen has been recognized with a wide range of awards on numerous occasions for her contributions to the library community. They include ALA’s Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change, 1999; ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year, Association of College and Research Libraries, 2010; Emerson Greenway Distinguished Service Award for Librarianship, New England Library Association, 2012; and the Joseph W. Lippincott Award. Honorary membership recognizes the enormous and sustained impact she has had and continues to have on librarians and on virtually every type of library in the area of change management and organizational development. Her life-long work has ultimately led to stronger and more strategic organizations, whether it be individual libraries or professional associations.

In their nomination, Ann K. Symons, ALA Honorary Member, and Robert R. Newlen, executive director, Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, wrote, "Maureen has had many 'jobs' in her career, which spans many decades. Her service in ALA and her consulting practice has impacted thousands of librarians. There is virtually no subject that Maureen hasn’t addressed with her innovative contributions that better librarians and libraries. Her work with organizational development, change management, human resource management and strategic planning have had a pervasive and lasting influence on the profession."

Sullivan is known throughout the library community for her work in helping organizations deal with change effectively. Through her consulting practice and countless hours of volunteer service, she has made libraries stronger organizations and therefore better able to serve their constituents.

After serving as interim state librarian of the Connecticut State Library from May 2020 to January 2021, Governor Lamont appointed her to the State Library Board. In September 2021 she was elected to serve as chair.

Following her graduation with the degree of Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, Maureen became the assistant personnel librarian and then assistant director of libraries for personnel at the University of Maryland.

She honed her skills in organizational training and staff development at the Association of Research Libraries, where she was the management training program specialist, and later as the human resources administrator at the Yale University Library.

By 1991, Maureen was well-prepared to launch her career as organization development consultant, by establishing Maureen Sullivan Associates, a practice that has spanned more than 30 years.

Her work has encompassed a broad range of organizational and human resource development programs, including: planning and managing organizational change; search and recruitment processes; organizational assessment; team building; staff development and learning programs; leadership development programs; management skills development; position classification systems; identification and development of core competencies; board development; organizational restructuring; work redesign and process improvement; innovative approaches to organizational development; and strategic planning.

Through her business practice and volunteer commitments and service, Maureen has reached virtually every type of library and professional library organization. This includes public, academic, and federal libraries and organizations as diverse as the Aspen Institute, American Library Association, law schools, consortia, the Urban Libraries Council, and numerous colleges and universities.

Through nearly 10 years of teaching as a professor of practice in the Ph.D. Program in Managerial Leadership at the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, she has coached and inspired many students.

Newlen said, “As the former deputy librarian of Congress, I called on Maureen numerous times to work with managers on a wide array of organizational issues. In each case, she brought her considerable listening and analytical skills to diagnose issues, work closely with staff and propose solutions. I can honestly say there was no human resource issue to which Maureen did not make substantial contributions and facilitated sustained improvement.”

Symons said, “When I was ALA President, Maureen was President of ACRL. I always thought our roles should have been reversed - even at that time 20 + years ago, she was ready to be ALA president. Our cohort of Division Presidents were diverse, smart, experienced and committed. Whether she knew it or not, Maureen mentored me with her advice, organizational skills and her friendship.”

Sullivan will receive an honorary membership plaque in June during the Opening General Session of the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

American Library Association