ALA Announces Transitions and New Leadership at ACRL

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, announces key leadership changes as it progresses towards the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Current executive director, Robert “Jay” Malone, who came to ACRL in September 2021 after previously helming an academic society for over twenty years, will depart ALA on Friday, June 9. During his time at ACRL, Malone supported the repositioning and improved profitability of Choice, a publishing unit of ACRL and worked with ALA’s Development Office to raise the association’s GuideStar (Candid) nonprofit ranking to “platinum,” the reviewer’s highest level.

“The main attraction of the ACRL directorship was the opportunity to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI),” Malone said of his tenure. “So, it was with great satisfaction that I witnessed the addition of EDI to ACRL’s operating strategy, the Plan for Excellence.”

Of the ACRL staff and membership, Malone acknowledges, “I was lucky to work with an excellent staff whose high quality of work remains the best that I have seen in over 20 years of association management. I thought I knew something about academic and research libraries, having spent countless hours in them, but I was soon disabused of that notion. Never during those prior years was I aware of the sheer volume of time and talent that library workers donate to advancing the profession. The spirit of volunteerism and community in ACRL and ALA is unparalleled, and I will forever remain grateful for the many members who devote themselves to a universe of challenges—your efforts make a difference.”

Malone will be succeeded by interim ACRL executive director Allison Payne, who will step into her new leadership role on Monday, June 11. Payne joined ACRL in 2013 and has since served in governance (among other duties) by supporting the work of the ACRL Board of Directors and ACRL Budget and Finance Committee. Prior to her new appointment, Payne served as ACRL Program Manager for Strategic Initiatives, leading equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and helping shepherd various projects—including the creation of the joint ALA/ACRL/ARL/PLA Cultural Proficiencies for Racial Equity: A Framework and the assessment and redevelopment of the ACRL Diversity Alliance program.

In 2022, Payne was selected as a participant for the Path to Leadership program, a joint effort sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), with the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) and the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA). Before coming to ACRL, she worked at Kraft Foods Global Research and Development Library and the University of Iowa Libraries’ Preservation Department. As an AmeriCorps member, Allison tutored incarcerated youth and supported adult literacy centers in the greater Chicago area. Since 2019, Allison has been a volunteer team captain for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s annual Together in Teal fundraiser. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in Psychology, from the University of Iowa.

On June 16, ACRL will also say goodbye to longtime staff member and current Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives Kara Malenfant. Since joining ACRL staff in September 2005, Malenfant has coordinated the division’s government relations advocacy, scholarly communication activities, and Value of Academic Libraries initiative and co-developed and managed ACRL’s Consulting Services Program. She also served as ACRL’s interim executive director from April 2020 to September 2021. Among her many accomplishments at ACRL, Malenfant facilitated the creation of the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education, several white papers and research agendas, and led the 3-year IMLS-funded program Assessment in Action. She credits talented current and former ACRL colleagues and ALA staff and member volunteers, more broadly, with helping her learn, grow, and accomplish more for the good of the association and profession.

ACRL is grateful to its departing colleagues and looks forward to supporting new leadership in building on their dedicated work.

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