Recognising a librarian as an international influencer

Librarians around the world rejoiced that a fellow librarian, Tracie D. Hall, was recognised as one of the world's most influential people by Time magazine.

Time magazine named Executive Director of the American Library Association, Tracie D. Hall, as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 in its Apr 24 – May 1, 2023 issue - that’s vol. 201, nos. 15-16 for the serials librarians amongst us. The magazine cited her advocacy for public libraries in the face of increased efforts to censor library materials and celebrated her unyielding approach to the belief that “free people read freely”. The ALA press release about the honour is here.

Hall expanded on her support of libraries, particularly public libraries, in an interview on Chicago television.

The profile in the magazine was written by Min Jin Lee, a writer who serves on the boards of PEN America and the Authors Guild. She concluded her article with this: “Hall’s life’s work teaches each of us that the love of libraries and books can free us from hatred and lies not just for the present generation but for the liberation of all to come”.

Before joining ALA in February 2020 as the first Black woman to hold the post of ALA Executive Director, Hall worked at public libraries in Queens (New York), Seattle (Washington), and Hartford (Connecticut), as well as the Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science. No stranger to ALA, Hall was director of its Office for Diversity from 2003 to 2006. Immediately prior to becoming ALA Executive Director, she was the director of the Joyce Foundation Culture Programs and has served in Chicago city government. She wrote about "Librarianship as Resistance" in the September 2022 issue of American Libraries.

International influence

Hall keynoted Cilip’s virtual conference in 2020, with the topic “Information Redlining: The Urgency to Close the Socioeconomic Divide and the Role of Libraries as Lead Interveners.  The video of the keynote session is here and her talk begins at the 21:50 mark.

Lest you think that book banning and censorship of other library materials is unique to the United States, a recent Guardian article by Sarah Shaffi details the situation in UK libraries and includes information from a Cilip survey. The article states that “Librarians are increasingly being asked to censor or remove books, and have also faced threats in discussions about the removal of books”. This is not just a few librarians. Almost a third have encountered these demands and 82% say they’re concerned that these requests are increasing. Books about empire, race, and LGBTQ issues are the ones most frequently in objectors’ crosshairs.

As a proponent of the freedom to read and a staunch supporter of ALA’s advocacy efforts, Banned & Challenged Books | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues (, Hall is a standard bearer for the library profession, not just in the U.S., but also worldwide. She is not the only librarian deserving of such recognition. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a librarian was included in the Time list, and other lists of influential individuals, every year?