The American Library Association (ALA) late last week announced that its executive board has appointed Mary Ghikas as executive director through January 2020, effective immediately.

Ghikas, a highly respected and longtime ALA executive (most recently serving as senior associate executive director of member programs and services) has been serving as interim executive director since August 1, 2017, following the retirement of Keith Fiels.

The move comes after the search process for Fiels's replacement has bogged down over whether or not candidates should be required to hold an MLIS degree. However, in the current climate of political uncertainty, with libraries facing “the challenge of a lifetime,” as Fiels put it last year, it makes sense for ALA to have an experienced leader in place while the search continues.

“Mary provides knowledge, experience, and stability to the association during this important period of transition as she leads critical work in infrastructure, organizational development, and technology for ALA,” said ALA president Jim Neal, in a statement.

The search for a new executive director, ALA officials added, will begin again in spring 2019 after the position description requirements have been finalized.

The plan is for the ALA Executive Board to name a new executive director after the fall board meeting in October 2019, with the new executive director officially starting at Midwinter 2020. Ghikas, who has been with the ALA since 1995, will then stay on board to “support the orientation and transition process through the ALA Annual Conference in June 2020.”