Magazine article American Libraries

Peggy Sullivan Takes Charge

Magazine article American Libraries

Peggy Sullivan Takes Charge

Article excerpt

50 East Huron will be a reflection of ALA's new executive director

ALA's new executive director is so take-charge that after agreeing to an exclusive AL interview, she decided to interview herself; Peggy Sullivan, executive director, interviews Peggy Sullivan, ALA member. As we began lunch in a restaurant near the Northern Illinois University library she has now left for 50 E. Huron, she handed me a sheet of graph paper covered with small, neat handwriting. It contained this short self-interview:

Sullivan: You are a 40-year member of ALA who has been a staff member in three divisions, on the board of two others, member or chair of several major committees, and ALA president. Do you have any advice for me as incoming executive director?

Sullivan: "Sure I do. Perhaps most important is: Be very careful whom you ask for advice--and warn them you may not follow their advice. ALA itself has a number of agendas, and so do its members. Your problem is to sort some of those out, work on the major ones, keep an eye on what's happening with others, and keep in mind where they diverge and where they intersect.

"From time to time, my own interests in ALA have changed and so have the interests of others. There's a lot of central inertial force within ALA, and it's important to keep that and keep it creative; but much of the advice you're likely to get may encourage you to move in specific directions. You need to be sure those fit with the major directions, and then move as you see fit."

Sullivan: What do you see as some of the issues or problems currently facing ALA?

Sullivan: "To some extent, the issues are the same ones facing libraries and librarians and, for the most part, they certainly are not new. Many relate to the social and political issues affecting libraries today.

"It amazes me to realize, however, that even as budgets are greatly reduced and libraries, librarians, and users are negatively affected, ALA's strength grows in many respects. I am constantly impressed by how much trust people have in ALA. I am one of those. I look to ALA to represent me as a member in regard to issues of intellectual freedom and federal relations--and I don't Emit that to lobbying! …

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