September 19, 2017

Round of Elections Means Change at the Top for Major Library Orgs

In elections ending in April, three of the country’s major library organizations—the American Library Association (ALA), Public Library Association (PLA), and Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)—selected new leaders for the coming years.

On May 2, ALA announced that Cuyahoga County executive director Sari Feldman beat out University of Wyoming dean of libraries for the presidency. Feldman will serve as president-elect until stepping in as president for the 2015-2016 term at the close of next year’s ALA conference in San Francisco, which will mark the end of incoming president Courtney Young’s term. When the vote counts were certified, Feldman had 5,185 supporters, about 55.3% of the 9,665 total ballots cast for president in the 2014 election.

“I am deeply honored to be given the opportunity to serve libraries and library professionals as president of the American Library Association,” Feldman said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing the leadership commitment of current president Barbara Stripling and president-elect Courtney Young to support advocacy for all libraries by strengthening our ability to speak with a unified voice”

In total, the 2014 ALA election saw 9,940 ballots returned out of a total of 52,049 distributed to ALA members and potential voters. That response rate of 19.1% is a dip of more than two percent from the last few years of voting and the lowest total since 2011, when just 9,613 ballots were cast from a pool of 52,901 potential voting members—an engagement rate of just 18.2%.

The election also saw ALA voters choose 36 new representatives for the ALA’s councilor at large positions, representing the top 36 choices from a field of 72 candidates for the roles. Of those, the 33 candidates with the highest vote tallies were elected for full three year terms. Of the remaining three, two councilors will serve one year terms, while the third will serve a 13 month term set to begin immediately.

In the PLA election, Multnomah County Public Library executive director Vailey Oehlke defeated Salt Lake County Library director Jim Cooper for the top spot, garnering 1,457 of the 2,038 votes cast in that election. A member of the PLA board from 2011 to 2013 and current member of the executive board of the Urban Libraries Council, Oehlke will serve a three year term, taking over as president elect at the close of this year’s ALA conference before serving as president in 2015 and past president in 2016.

In other PLA elections, Sacramento Public Library director Rivkah Sass was appointed the organization’s ALA Division Councilor, while Richland Library executive director Melanie Huggins and Omaha Public Library assistant director Manya Shorr were chosen to serve as the PLA board’s two new directors-at-large.

At ACRL, Ann Campion Riley, associate director for access, collections and technical services at the University of Missouri libraries and a member of the ACRL Board of Directors from 2009 until 2013, won the presidency with 1,501 votes. 2,362 members cast ballots in the election, which also saw University of Iowa librarian John P. Culshaw and College of Western Idaho director of library services Kim Leeder elected to four year terms as directors-at-large.

Ian Chant About Ian Chant

Ian Chant is a former editor at LJ and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Scientific American and Popular Mechanics and on NPR.

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