The AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (ALA) is a nonprofit organization
based in the
United States that promotes libraries and library
education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library
association in the world, with more than 62,000 members.
* 1 History
* 2 Membership
* 3 Governing structure
* 3.1 Activities
* 3.1.1 Divisions
* 3.1.2 Notable offices
* 3.1.3 Notable sub-organizations
* 3.2 Affiliates
* 3.3 National outreach
* 3.3.1 Awards
* 3.3.2 Conferences
* 4 Political positions
* 4.2 Privacy
* 4.2.1 1970s
* 4.2.2 1980s
USA PATRIOT Act
* 5 ALA-Accredited Programs in
Library and Information Studies
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Justin Winsor ,
Charles Ammi Cutter , Samuel S. Green ,
James L. Whitney,
Melvil Dewey (Melvil Dui), Fred B. Perkins, Charles
Evans , and
Thomas W. Bicknell in 1876 in
Philadelphia and chartered
in 1879 in
Massachusetts , its head office is now in
Centennial Exposition in
Philadelphia in 1876, 103
librarians, 90 men and 13 women, responded to a call for a "Convention
of Librarians" to be held October 4–6 at the Historical Society of
Pennsylvania. At the end of the meeting, according to Ed Holley in his
essay "ALA at 100," "the register was passed around for all to sign
who wished to become charter members," making October 6, 1876, to be
ALA's birthday. In attendance were 90 men and 13 women, among them
Justin Winsor (Boston Public, Harvard), William Frederick Poole
Chicago Public, Newberry),
Charles Ammi Cutter (Boston Athenaeum),
Melvil Dewey, and Richard Rogers Bowker. Attendees came from as far
Chicago and from England. The aim of the association, in that
resolution, was "to enable librarians to do their present work more
easily and at less expense." The association has worked throughout
its history to define, extend, protect and advocate for equity of
access to information.
Library activists in the 1930s pressured the American Library
Association to be more responsive to issues put forth by young members
involved with issues such as peace, segregation, library unions and
intellectual freedom. In 1931, the Junior Members Round Table (JMRT)
was formed to provide a voice for the younger members of the ALA, but
much of what they had to say resurfaced in the social responsibility
movement to come years later. During this period, the first Library
Bill of Rights (LBR) was drafted by
Forrest Spaulding to set a
standard against censorship and was adopted by the ALA in 1939. This
has been recognized as the moment defining modern librarianship as a
profession committed to intellectual freedom and the right to read
over government dictates. The ALA formed the Staff Organization's
Round Table in 1936 and the
Library Unions Round Table in 1940.
The ALA appointed a committee to study censorship and recommend
policy after the banning of
The Grapes of Wrath and the implementation
of the LBR. The committee reported in 1940 that intellectual freedom
and professionalism were linked and recommended a permanent committee
– Committee on Intellectual Freedom. The ALA made revisions to
strengthen the LBR in June 1948, approved the Statement on Labeling in
1951 to discourage labeling material as subversive, and adopted the
Freedom to Read Statement and the Overseas
Library Statement in 1953.
In 1961, the ALA took a stand regarding service to African Americans
and others, advocating for equal library service for all. An amendment
was passed to the LBR in 1961 that made clear that an individual's
library use should not be denied or abridged because of race,
religion, national origin, or political views. Some communities
decided to close their doors rather than desegregate. In 1963, the
ALA commissioned a study, Access to Public Libraries, which found
direct and indirect discrimination in American libraries.
In 1967 some librarians protested against a pro-
Vietnam War speech
given by General
Maxwell D. Taylor at the annual ALA conference in San
Francisco; the former president of
Sarah Lawrence College , Harold
Taylor, spoke to the Middle-Atlantic Regional
Library Conference about
socially responsible professionalism; and less than one year later a
group of librarians proposed that the ALA schedule a new round table
program discussion on the social responsibilities of librarians at its
next annual conference in Kansas City . This group called themselves
the Organizing Committee for the ALA Round Table on Social
Responsibilities of Libraries. This group drew in many other
under-represented groups in the ALA who lacked power, including the
Congress for Change in 1969. This formation of the committee was
approved in 1969 and would change its name to the SOCIAL
RESPONSIBILITIES ROUND TABLE (SRRT) in 1971). After its inception, the
Round Table of Social Responsibilities began to press ALA leadership
to address issues such as library unions, working conditions, wages,
and intellectual freedom. The
Freedom to Read Foundation was created
by ALA's Executive Board in 1969. The Black Caucus of the ALA and the
Office for Literacy and Outreach were set up in 1970.
In June 1990, the ALA approved “Policy on
Library Services to the
Poor” and in 1996 the Task Force on Hunger Homelessness, and Poverty
was formed to resurrect and promote the ALA guidelines on library
services to the poor.
In 2014 Courtney Young, the president of the association, commented
on the background and implications of a racist joke author Daniel
Handler made as African-American writer
Jacqueline Woodson received a
National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming. "His comments were
inappropriate and fell far short of the association's commitment to
diversity," said Young. "Handler's remarks come at a time when the
publishing world has little diversity. Works from authors and
illustrators of color make up less than 8 percent of children’s
titles produced in 2013. The ALA hopes this regrettable incident will
be used to open a dialogue on the need for diversity in the publishing
industry, particularly in regards to books for young people."
The ALA Archives, including historical documents, non-current
records, and digital records, are currently held at the University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign archives. American Library
Association conference, New Monterey Hotel,
Asbury Park, New Jersey ,
June 25, 1919 (
Library of Congress )
ALA membership is open to any person or organization, though most of
its members are libraries or librarians. Most members live and work in
the United States, with international members comprising 3.5% of total
Camila Alire , 2009–10
President of the ALA
The ALA is governed by an elected council and an executive board.
Keith Michael Fiels has been the ALA executive director
(CEO). Policies and programs are administered by various committees
and round tables. One of the organization's most visible tasks is
overseen by the Office for Accreditation, which formally reviews and
authorizes American and Canadian academic institutions that offer
degree programs in library and information science . The ALA's current
President is Julie B. Todaro (2016-2017). Notable past presidents of
the ALA include
Theresa Elmendorf , its first female president
Clara Stanton Jones , its first African-American
president (she served as acting president from April 11 to July 22 in
1976 and then president from July 22, 1976 to 1977 ),
Loriene Roy ,
its first Native American president (2007–2008), Michael Gorman
(2005-2007), and Roberta A. Stevens. (See List of presidents of the
Library Association .)
The official purpose of the association is "to promote library
service and librarianship." Members may join one or more of eleven
membership divisions that deal with specialized topics such as
academic, school, or public libraries, technical or reference
services, and library administration. Members may also join any of
seventeen round tables that are grouped around more specific interests
and issues than the broader set of ALA divisions.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
* Association for
Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS)
* Association for
Library Service to Children (ALSC)
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
* Association of Specialized and Cooperative
Library Information Technology Association (LITA)
Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA)
Library Association (PLA)
Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)
* United for Libraries (United)
* Young Adult
Library Services Association (YALSA)
* Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF)
* Office for Accreditation (OA)
* Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS)
* Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)
* ALA Editions (book publishing)
In 1970, the ALA founded the first lesbian , gay , bisexual and
transgender professional organization, called the "Task Force on Gay
Liberation", now known as the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender
Round Table or GLBT Round Table.
Barbara Gittings became its
coordinator in 1971. In the early 1970s, the Task Force on Gay
Liberation campaigned to have books about the gay liberation movement
Library of Congress reclassified from HQ 71–471 (“Abnormal
Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes”). In 1972, after
receiving a letter requesting the reclassification, the
Congress agreed to make the shift, reclassifying those books into a
newly created category, HQ 76.5 (“Homosexuality, Lesbianism—Gay
Liberation Movement, Homophile Movement”). In 1971 the GLBTRT
created the first award for GLBT books, the Stonewall Book Award,
which celebrates books of exceptional merit that relate to LGBT
Patience and Sarah by
Alma Routsong (pen name Isabel Miller)
was the first winner. In 1992,
American Libraries published a photo of
the GLBTRT (then called the
Lesbian Task Force) on the cover
of its July/August issue, drawing both criticism and praise from the
library world. Some commenters called the cover “in poor taste”
American Libraries of “glorifying homosexuality,”
while others were supportive of the move. Christine Williams, who
wrote an essay about the controversy surrounding the cover, concluded
that in the mid-90s, the library world was “not an especially
welcoming place to gays and lesbians." In 2010, the GLBTRT announced a
new committee, the Over the Rainbow Committee. This committee annually
compiles a bibliography of books that show the GLBT community in a
favorable light and reflects the interests of adults. The
bibliographies provide guidance to libraries in the selection of
positive GLBT materials.
On July 23, 1976, the Committee on the Status of Women in
Librarianship was established as a Council Committee of the ALA on
recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee with the same name (which had
been appointed by the
President of the ALA in December 1975) and of
the Committee on Organization. The Committee on the Status of Women in
Librarianship works to "officially represent the diversity of women's
interest within ALA and to ensure that the Association considers the
rights of the majority (women) in the library field; to promote and
initiate the collection, analysis, dissemination, and coordination of
information on the status of women in librarianship; to coordinate the
activities of ALA units which consider questions of special relevance
for women; to identify lags, gaps, and possible discrimination in
resources and programs relating to women; in cooperation with other
ALA units, to help develop and evaluate tools, guidelines, and
programs designed to enhance the opportunities and the image of women
in the library profession, thus raising the level of consciousness
concerning women; to establish contacts with committees on women
within other professional groups and to officially represent ALA
concerns at interdisciplinary meetings on women's equality; and to
provide Council and Membership with reports needed for establishment
of policies and actions related to the status of women in
librarianship; and to monitor ALA units to ensure consideration of the
rights of women." In 1979 the Committee on the Status of Women in
Librarianship received the Bailey K. Howard - World Book Encyclopedia
- ALA Goal Award to develop a profile of ALA personal members, known
as the COSWL Study. In 1980 the Committee on the Status of Women in
Librarianship was awarded the J. Morris Jones - World Book
Encyclopedia - ALA Goals Award with the OLPR Advisory Committee to
undertake a special project on equal pay for work of equal value.
* The Black Caucus of the American
Library Association was formed in
1970. “The Black Caucus of the American
Library Association serves
as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of
library services and resources to the nation's African American
community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and
professional development of African American librarians.”
REFORMA is the National Association to Promote
Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking.
The ALA is affiliated with regional, state, and student chapters
(SCALA) across the country. It organizes conferences, participates in
library standards development, and publishes a number of books and
periodicals. The ALA publishes the magazines
American Libraries and
Booklist . Along with other organizations, it sponsors the annual
Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week the last week of September. Young Adult Library
Services Association (YALSA) also sponsors Teen Read Week , the third
week of each October, and
Teen Tech Week , the second week of each
March. In addition, the ALA helps to promote diversity in the library
profession with various outreach activities, including the Spectrum
Scholarship program, which awards academic scholarships to minority
library students each year. National
Library Week, the second week of
each April, is a national observance sponsored by the ALA since 1958.
Libraries across the country celebrate library resources, library
champions and promote public outreach.
List of ALA awards
The ALA annually confers numerous book and media awards, primarily
through its children's and young adult divisions (others are the
Dartmouth Medal , Coretta Scott King Awards , Schneider Book Awards,
Stonewall Book Award ).
The children's division ALSC administers the
Caldecott Medal ,
Newbery Medal , Batchelder Award , Belpré Awards ,
Geisel Award , and
Sibert Medal , all annual book awards; the
Odyssey Award for best
audiobook (joint with YALSA), and the (U.S.) Carnegie Medal and for
best video. There are also two ALSC lifetime recognitions, the Wilder
Medal and the Arbuthnot Lecture .
The young-adult division YALSA administers the Margaret Edwards Award
for significant and lasting contribution to YA literature, a lifetime
recognition of one author annually, and some annual awards that
recognize particular works: the
Michael L. Printz Award for a YA book
judged on literary merit alone, the
William C. Morris Award for an
author's first YA book, the new "YALSA Award for Excellence in
Nonfiction for Young Adults", and the "
Alex Award " list of ten adult
books having special appeal for teens. Jointly with the children's
division ALSC there is the
Odyssey Award for excellence in audiobook
The award for YA nonfiction was inaugurated in 2012, defined by ages
12 to 18 and publication year November 2010 to October 2011. The first
winner was The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure,
Heroism "> ALA Seal
See also: Librarianship and human rights in the
The ALA advocates positions on
United States political issues that it
believes are related to libraries and librarianship. For court cases
that touch on issues about which the organization holds positions, the
ALA often files amici curiae briefs, voluntarily offering information
on some aspect of the case to assist the court in deciding a matter
before it. The ALA has an office in
Washington, D.C. , that lobbies
Congress on issues relating to libraries, information and
communication. It also provides materials to libraries that may
include information on how to apply for grants, how to comply with the
law, and how to oppose a law.
See also: Book censorship in the
The primary documented expressions of the ALA's intellectual freedom
principles are the Freedom to Read Statement and the
Library Bill of
Rights ; the
Library Bill of Rights urges libraries to "challenge
censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide
information and enlightenment." The
ALA Code of Ethics also calls on
librarians to "uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and
resist all efforts to censor library resources."
The ALA maintains an Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) headed by
Barbara M. Jones, former University Librarian for Wesleyan University
and internationally known intellectual freedom advocate and author.
She is the second director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom,
Judith Krug , who headed the office for four decades. OIF
is charged with "implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of
intellectual freedom ," that the ALA defines as "the right of every
individual to both seek and receive information from all points of
view without restriction. It provides for free access to all
expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question,
cause or movement may be explored." Its goal is "to educate
librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of
intellectual freedom in libraries." The OIF compiles lists of
challenged books as reported in the media and submitted to them by
librarians across the country.
In 1950, the Intellectual Freedom Committee, the forerunner of the
OIF, investigated the termination of
Ruth W. Brown as librarian of the
Bartlesville Public Library, a position she held in the
for 30 years. Brown's termination was based on the false allegation
that she was a communist and that she had as part of the library's
serials collection two left wing publications,
The New Republic and
The Nation . The ALA support for her and the subsequent legal case was
the first such investigation undertaken by the ALA or one of its state
In 1999, radio personality
Laura Schlessinger campaigned publicly
against the ALA's intellectual freedom policy, specifically in regard
to the ALA's refusal to remove a link on its web site to a specific
sex-education site for teens. Sharon Priestly said, however, that
Schlessinger "distorted and misrepresented the ALA stand to make it
sound like the ALA was saying porno for 'children' is O.K."
In 2002, the ALA filed suit with library users and the ACLU against
United States Children\'s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which
required libraries receiving federal E-rate discounts for Internet
access to install a "technology protection measure" to prevent
children from accessing "visual depictions that are obscene, child
pornography, or harmful to minors." At trial, the federal district
court struck down the law as unconstitutional. The government
appealed this decision, and on June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court of the
United States upheld the law as constitutional as a condition imposed
on institutions in exchange for government funding. In upholding the
law, the Supreme Court, adopting the interpretation urged by the U.S.
Solicitor General at oral argument, made it clear that the
constitutionality of CIPA would be upheld only "if, as the Government
represents, a librarian will unblock filtered material or disable the
Internet software filter without significant delay on an adult user's
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation attempted to use librarians as
possible informants in the conspiracy case of the
Harrisburg Seven in
1971. The Harrisburg Seven, made up of religious anti-war activists,
were primarily accused of conspiring to kidnap National Security
Henry Kissinger . The supposed leader of the group, Philip
Berrigan , was serving time at the Lewisburg penitentiary. The FBI
sought "to use library surveillance and librarian informants" at
Bucknell University as evidence of the Harrisburg Seven's "characters
and intentions." Boyd Douglas became one such informant for the FBI:
he was a prisoner at the same penitentiary with a work-release
position at the library. Boyd presented himself as an anti-war
activist and offered to smuggle letters he collected while at work to
Philip Berrigan at the prison.
The FBI also attempted to use
Zoia Horn , a librarian at the Bucknell
library, and interviewed other library workers. The FBI met with Horn
in her home to debrief her, but Horn refused to answer their
questions. She refused to testify, even after she was given immunity
from self-incrimination. Horn stated, "To me it stands on: Freedom of
thought" and that the government "spying in homes, in libraries and
universities inhibits and destroys this freedom."
Zoia Horn was
charged with contempt of the court and served 20 days in jail. She was
"the first librarian who spent time in jail for a value of our
profession" according to
Judith Krug of the American Library
Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. Horn continued to
fight for intellectual freedom in libraries and beyond. The
Intellectual Freedom Committee of the California
now awards the
Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award in honor of those
who make contributions to intellectual freedom.
In the 1970s,
United States Department of the Treasury agents also
pressured public libraries across the country to "release circulation
records recording the names and identifying information of people who
checked out books on bomb making." The ALA believed this to be an
"unconscionable and unconstitutional invasion of library patrons'
As a result of these two situations and many others, the ALA affirmed
the confidential status of all records which held patron names in a
Policy on the Confidentiality of
Library Records. The ALA also
released the ALA Statement on Professional Ethics in 1975 which
advocated for the protection of the “confidential relationship"
between a library user and a library.
The FBI tried to use surveillance in library settings as part of its
Library Awareness Program of the 1980s; it aimed to use librarians "as
partners in surveillance." The program was known to the FBI as "The
Development of Counterintelligence Among Librarians," indicating that
the FBI believed that librarians might be supportive in its
counterintelligence investigations. The FBI attempted to profile
"Russian or Slavic-sounding last names" of library patrons to look for
possible "national security threats." The FBI wanted libraries to help
it trace "the reading habits of patrons with those names."
The ALA responded by writing to the FBI director. The Intellectual
Freedom Committee also created "an advisory statement to warn
libraries" of the
Library Awareness Program, including ways to help
librarians "avoid breaking their ethical obligations if faced with FBI
USA PATRIOT Act
In 2003, the ALA passed a resolution opposing the
USA PATRIOT Act ,
which called sections of the law "a present danger to the
constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users". Since
then, the ALA and its members have sought to change the law by working
with members of Congress and educating their communities and the press
about the law's potential to violate the privacy rights of library
users. ALA has also participated as an amicus curiae in lawsuits filed
by individuals challenging the constitutionality of the USA PATRIOT
Act, including a lawsuit filed by four Connecticut librarians after
the library consortium they managed was served with a national
security letter seeking information about library users. After
several months of litigation, the lawsuit was dismissed when the FBI
decided to withdraw the National Security Letter. In 2007 the
"Connecticut Four" were honored by the ALA with the Paul Howard Award
for Courage for their challenge to the National Security Letter and
gag order provision of the USA PATRIOT Act.
In 2006, the ALA sold humorous "radical militant librarian" buttons
for librarians to wear in support of the ALA's stances on intellectual
freedom, privacy, and civil liberties. Inspiration for the button’s
design came from documents obtained from the FBI by the Electronic
Privacy Information Center (EPIC) through a Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) request. The request revealed a series of e-mails in which FBI
agents complained about the "radical, militant librarians" while
criticizing the reluctance of FBI management to use the secret
warrants authorized under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The ALA "supports efforts to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act (DMCA) and urges the courts to restore the balance in copyright
law, ensure fair use and protect and extend the public domain". It
supports changing copyright law to eliminate damages when using orphan
works without permission; is wary of digital rights management ; and,
in ALA v. FCC , successfully sued the Federal Communications
Commission to prevent regulation that would enforce next-generation
digital televisions to contain rights-management hardware. It has
joined the Information Access Alliance to promote open access to
Copyright Advisory Network of the association's Office
for Information Technology Policy provides copyright resources to
libraries and the communities they serve. The ALA is a member of the
Copyright Alliance, along with the Association of Research
Libraries and the Association of College and Research Libraries, which
provides a unified voice for over 300,000 information professionals in
the United States.
ALA-ACCREDITED PROGRAMS IN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES
Main article: List of American
Library Association accredited library
ALA-Accredited programs can be found at schools in the U.S., Puerto
Rico, and Canada. Theses programs offer degrees with names such as
Library Science (MLS), Master of Arts, Master of
Librarianship, Master of
Library and Information Studies (MLIS), and
Master of Science. To be accredited, the program must undergo an
external review and meet the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s
Library and Information Studies. The ALA website provides
a directory directory in database form of ALA-Accredited programs.
There are currently 59 accredited programs, and two that are
candidates seeking accreditation.
* Organizations portal
* Books portal
* Children\'s literature portal
* American Indian
Library Association and American Indian Youth
ANSEL American National Standard for Extended Latin Alphabet Coded
Character Set for Bibliographic Use
* Book censorship in the
Book Links , an ALA magazine that helps teachers, librarians,
school library media specialists, and parents connect children with
Booklist , an ALA publication that provides critical reviews of
books and audiovisual materials, geared toward libraries and
Challenge (literature) , an attempt to have books removed from a
History of public library advocacy
* International Federation of
Library Associations (IFLA)
Library Bill of Rights
Library Hall of Fame
* Librarianship and human rights in the
* List of American
Library Association accredited library schools
* List of presidents of the American
Neal-Schuman Publishers , an imprint of the ALA
Public library advocacy
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