200: Tracie D. Hall

Steve chats with Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association, about her path to librarianship, her role as ALA’s Executive Director, what ALA has done and can do for library workers, libraries working for social justice, and accepting ourselves as members of the human race.

In February 2020, Tracie D. Hall was appointed the American Library Association’s 10th executive director in its 143-year history. In her new role, Hall oversees the oldest and largest library association in the world, made up of 57,000 members and more than 200 staffers. Hall is the first female African American executive director in ALA’s history.

Upon Hall’s appointment ALA President Wanda K. Brown observed that “Her unique combination of philanthropy and library know-how position her to be the leader ALA needs today. She is optimistic, energizing, and innovative, qualities that will serve the association well as it continues its investments in advocacy, development, and information technology.” Hall is no stranger to libraries, or to ALA. Over the years she has worked at the Seattle Public Library, the New Haven Free Public Library, Hartford Public Library, and Queens Library. In 1998, she was among the first cohort of ALA’s Spectrum Scholars, a grant program to diversify librarianship, and she served as the director of ALA’s Office for Diversity in the early 2000s and has served on advisory councils for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and written for the field’s major publications. She was highlighted as a “Mover and Shaker” in the field by Library Journal  early in her career. Most recently, Hall directed the culture portfolio at the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, developing new grant programs designed to foster greater equity and diversity in arts administration, catalyze and scale neighborhood-based arts venues, cultural programming and creative entrepreneurship. Prior to that she worked as Deputy Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and as community investment strategist in Global Corporate Citizenship at The Boeing Company. A civic leader in Chicago, Hall was appointed to serve on the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council at the beginning of 2020. Hall has also served in multiple roles in academia, including as assistant dean of Dominican’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science in River Forest, IL and as visiting professor at Wesleyan, Southern Connecticut State, and Catholic Universities among others. In addition to her MLIS from the Information School at the University of Washington, Hall holds an MA in International and Area studies with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa from Yale University and dual bachelor’s degrees in Law and Society and Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hall has also studied at the Universities of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in East Africa. Hall was born and raised in Los Angeles.

Today’s show is brought to you by Syndetics Unbound, from ProQuest and LibraryThing. Syndetics Unbound helps public and academic libraries enrich their catalogs and discovery systems with high-interest elements, including cover images, summaries, author profiles, similar books, reviews, and more. Syndetics Unbound encourages serendipitous discovery and higher collection usage, and was recently awarded Platinum distinction in the LibraryWorks 2021 Modern Library Awards. To learn more about Syndetics Unbound, visit Syndetics.com. While there, be sure to visit their “News” tab to check out the Syndetics Unbound Blog for news and analysis, including a break-down of 2020’s most popular titles in public and academic libraries.

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