Chicago library exec, now head of American Library Association, on TIME's 100 most influential list

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Chicago library executive makes TIME 100 most influential list
Tracie Hall, who has been based in Chicago for 20 years and is the first Black woman to head the American Library Association, has been named one of Time's 100 most influential peo

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A love of books and a passion for advocating for people's rights led Tracie Hall to lead the American Library Association. She is the first African American woman to do so.

"It's really humbling," she said.

Hall is now featured as one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of the year. She took her role during the pandemic and has been based in Chicago for 20 years.

At a time some books and libraries are being targeted by parents and legislatures, Hall advocates for access.

"I think we are seeing it again, any time power is being contested or people don't want to share power they clamp down on the right to read, so history is repeating itself," she said. "Censorship seeks to encumber or control our imaginations and our imaginations must be free."

A Chicago woman is making Chicago Proud as she receives a huge honor for her service to the American literary community.

Hall is keeping watch as libraries continue to evolve, offering programs and services. Currently she said libraries are the largest provider of digital access across the country. Hall recalls her first library card as a child was from the Watts library in Los Angeles.

"There are so many places I have been through a book that I have never visited," Hall said. "I want children, especially, to dream big no matter what their circumstances are, and to understand what my third grade teacher used to tell me: no matter where you are, you can travel with a book."

Hall expects robust conversations about the next steps for public libraries during National Library Week (April 23-29) and when the ALA hosts it annual convention in Chicago this summer.