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Meet the Candidates: ALA Presidential Election 2016-2017

The library world is already buzzing about the 2016-2017 American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Elections, and we couldn't be more excited. As the oldest and largest library association in the world, the president's leadership impacts librarianship everywhere, and that’s a cause we care about. We’re shining a spotlight on the four awesome candidates to highlight who they are and what they stand for. Ballot voting for ALA members begins March 24, 2015 and closes on May 1, 2015. Now’s the time to study up on the ALA’s four presidential candidates and start deciding who will win your vote this election. Without further ado, let’s meet the candidates.


Joseph Janes

After 30 years in the library field, Joseph Janes aims to leave his profession better than he found it. As an educator, a writer, a thinker, and a speaker, he is eager to increase the presence of libraries in the public sphere. As a storyteller, he aspires to tell “how we improve every aspect of the knowledge ecosystem.”

Janes is an associate professor and chair of the MLIS program at the University of Washington Information School in Seattle, Washington. He has been an active member of ALA since 1982. Janes was the founding director of the Internet Public Library (1995-1998), and he received the Isadore Gilbert Mudge award in 2006 from the Reference & Servers Usage Association (RUSA) for distinguished contributions to reference work. Janes is a visible presence at local, national, and international library conferences, presenting at ALA, the Canadian Library Association, and the Library of Congress, as well as in Europe, the UK, and Japan. Janes has authored several books and articles, including “Library 2020” and “Introduction to Reference Work in the Digital Age.” He is also the creator of the podcast series “Documents that Changed the World,” available on iTunes.

Janes mission is two-fold: He hopes to tell the story of libraries as a “critical infrastructure” in the world of information, as well as explore the new way forward for libraries and librarianship. Janes states, “I firmly believe that the best way forward for each institution and professional is based on finding the right mix of tradition and innovation for their own setting, experimenting with new ideas, building on familiar ones, and seeing what works best.” Learn more about Janes’ aims as a presidential candidate on his site and in this interview with the University of Washington.

James LaRue

As a long-time lover of and advocate for libraries, James LaRue is determined to take the library message out into the community. Concerned with public funding and public support for libraries, LaRue aims to spread awareness by encouraging greater engagement with the community and increased library visibility. He believes that “this is the most exciting time in the history of our profession” and that libraries are an essential tool for building a great community and addressing an array of social issues.

LaRue is the CEO of LaRue & Associates in Castle Rock, Colorado. He recently retired from the Douglas County Libraries and has served on numerous committees of the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Library Association, including a year as its president (1998-1999). He has been an active ALA member since 1994 and served as a member of the ALA Digital Content Working Group from 2010-2014. LaRue has been the recipient of several honors and awards and was named the Colorado Librarian of the Year in 1998. After he retired in January 2014, the Board of Trustees of the Douglas County Libraries renamed the former Highlands Ranch Library to the James H. LaRue Library. To read more about LaRue’s career and accomplishments, check out his biography here.

LaRue’s campaign is centered around three key messages: cultivating and distributing digital content, cataloging and engaging with communities, and improving children’s services to promote literacy. Check out LaRue’s blog and website for more information on his candidacy.

JP Porcaro

JP Porcaro was named by FlavorWire as one of “the coolest librarians alive”, and as such, he’s focused on bringing great librarians and great libraries into the spotlight. He is the first millennial to run for ALA President and sees himself as an influential leader in the next generation of librarianship. Porcaro aspires to promote acceptance and inclusion in ALA and to shift attitudes toward diversity, community, and accessibility. He aims to utilize technology to get the word out about libraries and build strong, healthy communities around them.

As the Librarian for Acquisitions and Technological Discovery at the New Jersey City University Guarini Library in Jersey City, Porcaro has been an active member of ALA since 2004 as well as the organizer and founding president of the ALA Games & Gaming Round Table (2010-2012). Porcaro was named an ALA Emerging Leader in 2010 and a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2012. He is a founding member of the ALA Think Tank, the largest collaborative space for librarians in social media, and he is an administrator for the Librarian Wardrobe Blog. He is also the senior advisor to the EveryLibrary Political Action Committee and the Urban Librarians Unite Social Conference Organizer. Read more about Porcaro’s career and accomplishments on his website.

Porcaro’s candidacy is defined by a positivity and genuine excitement about libraries and librarianship, and, if elected, he hopes to energize ALA and its members. In his own words, "Through their service — and with a spirit of empathy, enthusiasm, and joy — librarians make the world a better place. Bringing that message and energy to the highest level of the American Library Association will inspire positive change in libraries everywhere." Learn more about Porcaro’s goals and ambitions on his website and his Reddit AMA session.

Julie Todaro

Julie Todaro is the Dean of Library Services at Austin Community College in Texas. Todaro has been an ALA member since 1972 and an active advocate for all types of libraries through her involvement in a number of local, state, and national organizations and initiatives. Todaro was the recipient of the Texas Library Association’s 1996 Librarian of the Year Award, the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, and she received the 2005 Austin Business Journal Profiles in Power Award. Todaro is also the author of several books, including her most recent book, “Library Management for the Digital Age: A New Paradigm”. Read more about Todaro’s career and accomplishments here.

Todaro is committed to communicating the values and mission of libraries not only to communities, but also to key “decision makers and funders”. If elected, she would work to illustrate the value and worth of libraries to stakeholders in order to ensure libraries are sufficiently funded and supported. Todaro believes that, in this day and age, libraries and librarians hold a particularly crucial role in the organization and distribution of information to the public. As a leader in library management in the digital age, Todaro hopes to increase constituent success by improving access to information, resources, and education programs. Read more about Todaro’s beliefs and goals on her website, coming soon.


Want to hear more from the ALA Presidential candidates? Library Technology Consultant Carson Block conducted in-depth interviews with each candidate, where they discuss technology, leadership, and other issues urgent to the librarianship. Listen to the interviews for a closer look at each candidate’s platform. Those headed to the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago can also catch the candidates at a forum from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 31. We wish the candidates the best of luck in the elections, and we’re excited to see who will lead ALA in 2016!


Source: American Library Association

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Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts - in Spanish and in English!

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