Public Programs Office | The American Library Association Archives
The Public Programs Office mission is to foster cultural programming as an integral part of library service in all types of libraries. The unit provides leadership, resources, training, and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural opportunities for adults, young adults, and families. It supports and promotes good practices in programming and exhibitions and develops high-quality national programs designed to encourage dialogue among community members, appeal to and affect diverse audiences, inspire community pride by hosting people and events of national stature, increase library staff knowledge about programming and exhibitions, and link library programming and exhibitions to other library functions.
The Public Programs Office (PPO) of the American Library Association was created in 1990 within the ALA Communications department to manage library humanities programming grant projects. During the 1980s, ALA developed a number of traveling exhibition projects with the support and encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Also in the 1980s, ALA received major NEH grants for Let's Talk About It, the reading and discussion program series. By 1989, Communications/PIO had to major projects funded that required a full-time staff person, so Deborah Robertson, ALA's Public Information Officer, was hired as humanities grants administrator to manage the Voices and Visions and Seeds of Change projects under the direction of the Video and Special Projects Office. In 1990, due to budget cuts, the Office of Video and Special Projects was eliminated. Projects directed by Robertson were managed under the newly created auspices of "Public Programs," with Robertson as director of this office. In the early 1990s, PPO branched out from NEH funding, and developed the initiative "Writers Live at the Library" with support of the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. The office continued to develop traveling exhibition projects, again seeking support beyond NEH with funders Time Warner, Cargill, the National Science Foundation, and others. A radio discussions series, "StoryLines," garnered the additional support of Barnes and Noble.