Go to:
Online Doc
Meeting Request
Jean Doolittle's picture

Next Executive Director: RMRT Member thoughts

From the President:  This was a hot topic on the RMRT listserv a couple of weeks ago and I thought it merited a place on ALA Connect.  Please add any more thoughts you have on the topic and consider starting more discussion here on topics that matter to you.  I don't know about you, but I find it hard sometimes to follow discussion threads on email and I'm generally overwhelmed by the volume of email I get.  I will move other email discussions over here on occasion.  Let me know if you approve.  I'm trying to find additional effective ways to communicate.



Jean Doolittle's picture

Is anyone following the comments by ALA members on ALA Connect about the draft Council resolution about a preferred MLS vs a required MLS for the next ALA Executive Director?   Is the RMRT Board or membership considering weighing in on this matter?  At least two divisions and one round table have adopted official positions on this draft resolution.  

I had several questions and a few comments on this issue:

How many highly qualified applicants might be considered for a first interview under either requirement?  Would the "MLS required" result in too small of a pool of highly qualified candidates?  Or would the "MLS preferred" result in a much larger pool of highly qualified candidates?  How might the selection committee make an intial determination of whether those applicants without a MLS degree possessed an adequate knowledge of complex library-related issues and a strong commitment to our organizational values?  

 It's interesting that none of the current executive directors of three other nationwide library associations - AALL, MLA or SLA - have an MLS degree, according to a scan of their biographies. SLA did not require a MLS degree of their applicants in their 2015-2016 search for an ED, and, according to their press release below, received 79 initial applicants for their ED position before choosing a candidate with a background in association management:


 What education requirement might best result in hiring an ED would would understand the organizational complexity and organizational culture of ALA; collaborate with Council, divisions, round tables, committees, chapter, affiliates and member leaders to strengthen and transform ALA; and grow our revenue streams as publishing and meeting revenues stagnate?  And, if the MLS degree is simply "preferred", what IS the minimum education requirement of applicants for the ED position.

Joseph Eagan


Jean Doolittle's picture

On December 20, 2016

I have been following this closely on the Council listserv and Facebook. Here  is my Facebook comment:

I do not support this change. The Executive Director not only manages ALA, he/she basically represents American Librarianship to the world. As a past ALA President i can tell you that it is the ED who builds the long-term relationships. The Presidency is only a year. What makes us believe that we cannot find an outstanding and credentialed librarian? There is no evidence that we have ever had a problem recruiting a librarian as Executive Director.


Jean Doolittle's picture

I agree with Pat on this and also with the comments made earlier about the role of ALA as an accrediting association and, as such, it would seem appropriate for the Executive Director to have the MLS degree 


Jean Doolittle's picture

On Thu, Dec 22, 2016:

I feel strongly that librarians should recruit and vote for fully credentialed leaders. If we cannot support the importance of our MLS degree, how can we expect library and school boards across the country to value the library science degree?

Jean Doolittle's picture


I do so agree with you.  Librarians should be credentialed.  I remember when I first began my career in libraries, my mother an intelligent woman, avid reader and library user, didn't understand why I was so tired when I came home.  She thought all I did all day was check out books, how wrong she was.  

If we do not have a professional persona with credentials and continuing PD for librarians we are not doing our profession justice.  We should be be encouraging those without to seek appropriate credentials, and working with institutions to make it easy to do.


Jean Doolittle's picture

I agree with the way this discussion is going.   Here are my preferences in order:

1.       Someone with both an MLS and also certification from American Society of Association Executives.  That would be someone who considerable experience in association management as well as our own profession.

2.       Someone with an MLS and broad multi-type library and management  and advocacy experience.  Keith was a state librarian.  Someone who has managed a state library association (think Pat Smith) or national library association or national office that focuses on libraries would be great.

3.       MLS strongly preferred and ASAE certified.


I supposed my #2 preference above is probably the most realistic.  To me, if we don’t require an MLS then we are no better than school superintendents who are firing their professional librarians.  It would show we do not respect our own profession.  I can think of three,  no four names right now of people who would do an excellent job.

As for level of education?   MLS should be fine.  I don’t think a PhD is necessary or even preferred.

Jean Doolittle's picture


#2 ranks as #1 for me.

(To which Nancy replies, "Close enough."