Sara Dallas

Southern Adirondack Library System, Director

PLA Member for 25 plus years

I owe my career to PLA. When I was an outreach consultant in a public library system in upstate New York, I applied to the Train-the-Trainer program using the PLA Results Series books. In 2001, approximately one month after 9/11 in Coronado, California, I met Sandra Nelson and June Garcia. They have become friends and mentors and helped me as I moved up the administrative ladder, and the colleagues I met through the program became life-long friends.

During the first training, we examined the content in the “New Planning for Results” and learned how to present the content to adult learners, something completely new to me. The knowledge and skills acquired during the workshops have served me throughout my career. I still use the PLA Results Series books, especially Managing for Results, Strategic Planning for Results, and From Chaos to Clarity, Policies for Results. The books are dog-eared and almost memorized, continuously informing my work. Some specific quotes that continue to inspire include:
- “Excellence must be defined locally. It is a result of providing library services that match community needs, interests and priorities.”
- “Excellence does not require unlimited resources. It occurs when available resources are allocated in ways that support library priorities.”
- “Excellence is a moving target. The best decision-making model is to estimate, implement, check and adjust – and then to estimate, implement, plan and adjust again.”

After gaining so much from this amazing opportunity, I began volunteering for committee work to give back to PLA. I was fortunate to have served on the PLA National Conference program subcommittee three times and we were able were able to present three outstanding conferences. A perk was meeting Eli Wiesel and Betty White! Another highlight was being the PLA liaison to the Freedom to Read Foundation and the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics. I was later named, Chair of the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics.

I continue to learn so much from the amazing PLA staff and my PLA colleagues. Over my thirty-something years as a member of PLA, I have served on the PLA Board of Directors, the Charlie Robinson Award Jury, Demco New Leaders Travel Grant Jury, EBSCO Excellence in Rural Library Services Award Jury and the Gordon M. Conable Award Jury.