ACRL Seeks Executive Director

At a dynamic time in the trajectory of American higher education, the American Library Association (ALA) seeks an Executive Director to lead its Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) division, the leading and largest organization representing academic and research libraries, librarians, and library workers.

ACRL is an international convener for the academic and research library sector and, in support of its wide-ranging constituency, develops programs, products, and services to help members and stakeholders learn, innovate, and lead within the academic library and research communities. With more than 10,000 members—representing all types of academic and research libraries supporting 160 communities of practice, committees, and chapters—ACRL elevates the position, recognition, and impact of all academic and research libraries and librarians as catalysts for exceptional research and learning. Signature programs, services, and products include the division’s biennial conference, Choice and College & Research Libraries publications, the ALA JobLIST job board, and a range of other revenue-generating areas.

Significant focus areas for ACRL’s work include promoting the value of academic libraries, supporting student learning and information literacy, taking an advocacy role in the research and scholarly environment, and exploring new roles and changing landscapes for academic librarianship. In 2018 the ACRL Board of Directors announced a new Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which expresses ACRL’s dedication to creating diverse and inclusive communities, acknowledging and addressing historical racial inequities, challenging oppressive systems within academic libraries, and working to eliminate barriers to equitable services, spaces, resources, and scholarship. The new ACRL Executive Director will have an extraordinary opportunity to move each of these areas forward.

The ACRL Executive Director will serve as an international spokesperson and thought leader who can advocate for academic and research libraries and for ALA’s broader priorities. This position also works closely with and reports to the ALA Executive Director as well as the elected ACRL Board of Directors. As a result, there is an extremely high premium placed on creativity, high energy, and the ability to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, effectively manage time and deadlines, as well as balance demands and priorities. In addition to division oversight, the ACRL Executive Director is expected to serve as a strategic and collaborative leader as part of the ALA senior management team.

ACRL’s offices are located at ALA’s headquarters in Chicago, a city known for its world-class arts, culture, and civic engagement opportunities, as well as its diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, celebrated cuisine, and genuine hospitality. A successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop their voice as a national library leader within an organization that offers and encourages work-life balance.


  • Providing vision and leadership for advancing ACRL’s core purpose, commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, goals, and strategic objectives defined by the ACRL Board of Directors in its strategic plan, the Plan for Excellence.
  • Representing the interests of ACRL and academic and research librarians to the library and higher-education communities.
  • Forging partnerships/alliances as appropriate to increase ACRL’s visibility and impact.
  • Providing long-range strategic and operational planning.
  • Managing the resources of the division effectively, including the hiring, supervision, and retention of strong team members.
  • Overseeing and growing ACRL’s $8 million budget.
  • Facilitating the delivery of programs, services, research, and meetings (including a biennial conference) that advance the work of academic and research librarians.
  • Providing oversight, review, and direction for ACRL’s publishing and licensing activities, including its CHOICE publishing program and operation.
  • Representing ACRL’s work and leadership globally within the International Federation of Library Associations and other organizations.
  • Serving as a member of ALA’s senior management team.


  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Relevant cumulative professional accomplishments and experience demonstrating managerial and leadership skills, as well as strategic decision-making, collaboration, and service-orientation.
  • Awareness of “big picture” values, trends, and issues in higher education and academic/research libraries strongly preferred.
  • Ability to balance competing demands and priorities in a challenging and complex organizational environment.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and a commitment to learning and continuous improvement.
  • Ability to effectively manage resources including time, money, labor, and attention, in a fiscally challenging environment.
  • Entrepreneurial aptitude and ability to generate earned as well as contributed income.
  • Ability to simultaneously develop and maintain effective working relationships with the elected Board of Directors, ACRL members and volunteers, staff and colleagues, funders, vendors, and liaison organizations within the higher education community.
  • Outstanding communication skills.
  • Ability to assess opportunities and take calculated risks based on the opportunity for reward.
  • A four-year college or university degree.


  • An MLIS or other graduate-level degree with relevance to the position.
  • Minimum of seven years of management experience in an association or other member- or customer-driven environment is strongly preferred.
  • Experience effectively managing and working with complex budgets and multiple revenue streams.
  • Experience with grant, sponsorship, and individual donor cultivation.
  • Experience supervising and managing strong staff teams.


Starting Salary: Negotiable from 120K, based on relevant experience.

Benefits: ALA offers a comprehensive and valuable benefits package that includes generous paid vacation and matching retirement annuity.


In addition to your resume, please provide a cover letter reflecting upon past successes and experience outlining the key skills and values that you will bring to ALA and the ACRL division.

Resumes and cover letters will be accepted on a rolling basis. For full consideration please submit by October 28, 2020.

Apply online including cover letter and resume.


Send your cover letter and resume to:

Mary Pullen
Sr. Human Resources Manager
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601
Ref: execdirACRL

Fax: (312) 280 5270