Movement on the MLA Board of Directors

October 28, 2021

It is with regret that MLA has accepted the resignation of Kelly Richards as the MLA Board President. Kelly has accepted the position of Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. While Kelly won’t be leaving Michigan until the middle of January, he let us know that his concentration would need to be focused on closing down his role at the Muskegon Area District Library and putting his full energy into preparing for his new role in Philadelphia. 

Last week, the MLA Board moved quickly to appoint new leadership. With a unanimous vote, the board moved Ryan Wieber immediately from President-Elect to President. Ryan will serve the remainder of Kelly’s term (8 months) and then assume his own duly elected position as President. While this will leave open the President-Elect position, we believe we will be able to work without this position title for the next 8 months as we are in the midst of recruiting for next year’s Board of Directors as we speak. (Nominations are open until November 8)

To round out the remaining 1 year and 8 months left in Kelly’s term, the MLA Board filled the open seat with seasoned MLA veteran, Kristin Shelley, Director of the East Lansing Public Library.  

Kelly’s leadership will be sorely missed and while we are sad to see him leave MLA and Michigan, he has left an indelible and enduring legacy. God Speed Kelly! 

Stepping into my new role as President of the Michigan Library Association just a bit earlier than expected, I want to first thank Kelly Richards for the great work he has accomplished in his time leading MLA, and for his involvement with the organization over the years. Congratulations to him for his new and upcoming opportunity as Executive Director at the Free Library of Philadelphia. His humility, happy outlook, and natural ability to connect with anyone is a tremendous skill and one that I know we all admire and will miss. I mean, really! Who has not enjoyed stopping to chat with Kelly in the halls of MLA conferences over the years? We will miss him dearly, but we are also absolutely thrilled for his new adventure!


I want to assure our membership that we will not pivot from Kelly’s push to strengthen MLA by incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in everything we do as a professional organization. Words ring hollow if there are no actions to back up statements, and we, fortunately, have some pretty good forward movement at the board level, with staff leadership, and with strong voices from our membership to consider everything we do through a DEI lens with thoughtfulness and necessity.

Our Strategic Priorities for 2021-2023 are powerful and are the guiding force for MLA in planning for educational and professional development opportunities, advocating for libraries and the library profession, and keeping the Michigan library community connected to each other. In our State, we are stronger together because of MLA. Together, our voices make a difference with legislators and stakeholders, and through teamwork we all benefit from sharing knowledge, offering mentorships, and contributing toward professional development. As we rebound and recover from the pandemic and provide library services in brand new, exciting and exhilarating ways, I am so thankful for being part of a professional service organization like MLA where we recognize that the collective strength found in each other creates better libraries and library professionals.

I’m proud of MLA and look forward to serving as your President!

Ryan Wieber 
MLA President





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