Barbara Macikas announces retirement as PLA executive director

For Immediate Release
Fri, 07/31/2020


Scott Allen

Deputy Director

Public Library Association

American Library Association

CHICAGO -- Barbara Macikas, executive director of the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has announced her retirement effective Aug. 31, 2020. 

Since 2009, Macikas has led the division and inspired innovative programs and initiatives that have empowered public library staff and strengthened their contributions to their communities. Through her leadership and in partnership with the PLA Board of Directors, members and staff, she has helped transform the association and the field. She notes PLA’s focus on equity, diversity and inclusion; leadership development; and performance measurement as notable achievements during a long tenure.

“It has been an honor, a privilege, and a joy to serve libraries through my various roles at PLA and ALA,” Macikas reflected. “I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish working together with passionate members, a dedicated staff, and generous and committed funders and stakeholders.” 

Colleagues and member leaders note that Macikas created a culture of trust and collaboration. With the PLA team, she aligned governance and member engagement to the strategic plan and greatly expanded the range of services and opportunities available to public library staff. Through her leadership, PLA sought and received more than $15 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Microsoft, and other major funders. These grants expand PLA’s ability to help libraries positively impact their communities through a range of new training opportunities and resources. They also help PLA accelerate efforts related to digital and health literacy, family engagement, and advocacy.

The PLA Conference grew into an ever more dynamic experience under Macikas’ leadership, with the addition of daily Big Ideas sessions, micro-volunteering and increased networking opportunities. During Macikas’ tenure, PLA introduced multiple streams of online learning, from webinars to full courses, to continually meet member needs.

In addition, Macikas focused on building and stabilizing PLA’s finances to ensure its sustainability. She carefully stewarded PLA’s resources so the association could invest in programs and services along with increasing the PLA endowment. She grew the PLA operating fund balance from $150,000 in 2009 to almost $4 million in 2019 and increased the PLA endowment to $1.5 million

“Through Barb’s leadership, PLA is recognized both in and out of the library world as a forward thinking, innovative organization,” said PLA President Michelle Jeske. “Barb’s strong strategic thinking and planning allowed for important PLA projects such as Every Child Ready to Read, the PLA Leadership Academy, and to be sustained beyond their initial grant periods. She has ensured PLA both meets emergent library needs and plans for sustainability, rigorously stewarding the association’s resources. On behalf of the PLA Board and members, I wish to thank and congratulate Barb on a job well done and wish her all the best.”

ALA Executive Director Tracie Hall said, "Barb’s tenure at PLA has not only moved the work of that division and public libraries nationally forward, it has also contributed significantly to the larger Association. Just before announcing her retirement, Barb played a key supporting role working alongside Conference Services to help bring ALA’s first ever 2020 Virtual Event to fruition -- and to great success. That kind of dedication and willingness to roll up her sleeves sets a standard for the role Barb leaves behind."

Mary Hirsh, PLA Deputy Director, will serve as association interim executive director. Details about the search for a new executive director will be announced this fall. 


About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to 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 strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or