Mark Cummings, editor and publisher at Choice, a publishing unit of ACRL, has announced his retirement, effective April 2, 2022.
Cummings has led Choice since 2013, coming to ACRL from a long and distinguished career in academic and educational publishing. He began his professional life in the reference and professional books division at Macmillan, with stints at Scribner’s and Oxford University Press. In the early 1990s, he joined Grolier Publishing Company as editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Americana and went on to become vice president and publisher of Grolier’s reference division. He later concentrated on educational technology, first at Scholastic and then at Weekly Reader. Cummings holds a B.A. from Michigan State University along with M.A. and M.Phil. degrees from Yale University in East Asia-related fields.
During his time at Choice, Cummings introduced new and innovative ways of working to the unit, expanding from the traditional magazine and digital reviews into new products including sponsored webinars, podcasts, bibliographic essays, newsletters, and white papers. Cummings boldly led a reexamination of long-held editorial goals, moving the flagship product Choice Reviews away from a singular focus on collection development for undergraduate instruction toward a broader critical assessment of important writing in all fields designed for a broader university audience. He was instrumental in the building of Choice Reviews.org, a database of more than 200,000 reviews, representing more than a quarter-century of scholarship, and Choice360.org a showcase for all the new digital products developed under his leadership.
He worked with the Charleston Company to create ccAdvisor, the only peer-reviewed, continuously updated, fully searchable database dedicated to providing in-depth, critical reviews of digital resources for the academic and library markets. In 2021, Cummings launched the content vertical “Toward Inclusive Excellence,” led by editor Alexia Hudson-Ward, which incorporates weekly blog posts and occasional podcasts and webinars exploring the intricacies of racial identity as they relate to implicit bias, systemic racism, and ableism, and other pertinent topics. With great ingenuity and drive, Cummings approached the challenge of reviving and extending the Choice brand in the face of a changing market. By building these new products, the Choice media portfolio now attracts upwards of 65,000 viewers annually.
Cummings fostered a culture of entrepreneurship, careful fiscal management, and a dedication to excellence among his team. During his tenure, Choice developed a broad audience of librarians, university administration, faculty, scholars, publishers, and the reading public, maintaining and expanding Choice’s well-earned reputation as an authoritative source for the evaluation of scholarly resources and as the publisher of trusted research. Cummings’ multifaceted vision for Choice will inform the work of the unit for years to come. ACRL is grateful for Cummings dedication toward furthering the Association’s mission and advancing the profession of librarianship.
Rachel Hendrick, Choice’s Director of Operations, will serve as interim editor and publisher. Rachel joined ALA in 2014 as the operations manager at Choice and in 2016 became the director of operations. During her tenure she has worked on a number of projects at Choice such as the Choice rebranding effort, the relaunch of Choice Reviews, the Authority File podcast, the Towards Inclusive Excellence content stream, and the redesign of Choice360.org as a showcase for all the great content Choice produces. Rachel was initially attracted to Choice because of its mission to provide reviews to academic libraries but she has found there a community of innovative content creators.
Before coming to Choice, Rachel worked in both print and digital publishing, most recently at Sotheby’s auction house. In 2012, Rachel received a Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Long Island University and worked briefly as a private librarian to a collection of rare books about natural history. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) from Pratt Institute and is currently working on a Master’s in History at the University of Connecticut. When not at Choice, she loves nothing more than to sift through the newspaper collections at the American Antiquarian Society looking for eighteenth-century watermarks.