ALA Student Chapters

Purpose of This Page

This page is designed to assist already established ALA Student Chapters. If you are interested in starting an ALA Student Chapter, visit How to Start an ALA Student Chapter.

What You Need to Know About . . .

| Business E-list and the Directory of Student Chapters | Chapter and Student Chapter Resources | Establishing a Relationship with Your State Library Association | Jobs | Leadering Your Chapter | Membership | Mentoring | Other Student Groups | Public Awareness Campaign | Scholarships | Social Media | Student-to-Staff Program | Volunteering at Conference | When Was First ALA Student Chapter Started? | ALA Student Member Blog | ALA Member Blog |

Business E-list and the Directory of Student Chapters

  • Student Chapter Directory. Contact information for Student Chapter leaders, including presidents, faculty advisors, and directors, and more.
  • Student Chapter presidents and faculty advisors are subscribed to the Student Chapter e-list (stuchapt@lists.ala.org). The ALA Chapter Relations Office—liaison to the ALA Student Chapters—communicates to the ALA Student Chapters via this business e-list.
  • Please send any comments, questions, or changes to Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office.

Chapter and Student Chapter Resources

ALA Student Chapter Answers and Resources
Answers and resources for Student Chapters. Have questions about resources available from ALA to your Student Chapter? Go here first!

ALA Student Chapter Projects 
Information on projects accomplished by ALA Student Chapers (created prior to the ALA Student Member Blog. Several articles discuss projects).

Chapter Answers
Answers to frequently asked questions about ALA and Chapters

Overview of ALA Resources for Chapters
Links to key action areas, resources by subject, and more

See also Leading Your Chapter.

Establishing a Relationship with Your State Library Association

Whenever possible, make a connection with the state library association in addition to ALA. In fact, it would be good to join your state association as well as ALA. Many library school students are more oriented towards their state than they are to the national scene and plan to remain in the state after graduation. Student chapter connection with the state association allows students to learn the workings of a smaller association, to make contacts with professionals in their area, and to attend local conferences and workshops. Many individuals begin their association "careers" in state associations.

Contact the president of the state library association or the executive director if there is one. Ask to be put on their mailing list to receive publicity for their programs. A list of state associations and their presidents and/or executive directors will be found on the online directory maintained by the Chapter Relations Office.

Jobs

Links to information about ALA Conference Placement Service, JobList, scholarships, and more, can be found at the ALA Office for Human Resource Development & Recruitment.

Want a great resume? Go to the NMRT Resume Review Service!

Leading Your Chapter

Membership

Do I have to be an ALA member to belong to an ALA Student Chapter?

No, not as far as participating in Student Chapter events and activities. Anyone and everyone should be allowed to participate. Indeed, participation should be encouraged and ALA membership should be encouraged, as well.

That said, if you want to run for a Student Chapter office, successful candidates should be ALA members. As for being an ALA member during election, in theory, all candidates should be current ALA members. If not, it seems to suggest that unless elected, candidates don’t want to join the organization they want to lead. However, in practice, flexibility can rule. If your Chapter decides to allow nonmembers to run, however, it must require them to join immediately upon election (and I stress immediately). Who in your Chapter will be assigned the task to oversee that they do join? Perhaps this should be a Bylaws change to make it official? Again, in theory, officers should be elected only by other ALA members. In practice, however, again, flexibility must rule. Indeed, most Chapters’ bylaws indicate ALA membership is only encouraged and not mandatory. This being so, then, anyone should be allowed to vote.

Like Student Chapters, Chapters (state library associations) are affiliated with ALA. Article V. Chapters, Section 2, of the ALA Bylaws states, “A chapter may admit members who are not members of the American Library Association.” Similarly, Student Chapters may also admit members who are not ALA members. However, unlike Chapters, Student Chapters are granted Charter Memberships as Student Chapter Groups of the American Library Association. Therefore, ALA can and does require Student Chapter officers to be ALA members. Both Chapter and Student Chapter officers encourage their members to join ALA. In addition, Student Chapter members appointed to ALA committees or selected to participate in ALA-related activities, such as the Student-to-Staff program, are required to be ALA members.

ALA doesn’t require Student Chapter events and activities to be strictly for Student Chapter members to encourage participation as learning experiences and opportunities to provide assistance to local communities. That is, ALA encourages volunteerism. Events and activities organized by Student Chapters include book drives and reading to children and seniors, as well as social get-togethers, which can include Student Chapter membership drives.

See also How to Start an ALA Student Chapter and Participate in Your Student Chapter! If Your Campus Doesn't Have One, Start One!

Membership Drives for Your Student Chapter

Arrange an informational and organizational meeting at the school for all interested students. The officers of existing groups can serve as a steering committee and can be of great assistance in helping to promote the chapter group. Students who have already joined ALA as student members should be identified and included in the chapter group. At the informational meeting, distribute ALA student membership forms and sign up students. (See Joint Student Membership Program.) Once a nucleus of members is established, a constitution should be drafted. Sample constitutions are available online from the ALA Chapter Relations Office. A nominating committee should be appointed and a meeting held to elect officers and approve the constitution. A chapter group program committee should be appointed to work with the officers to develop program ideas. A faculty advisor should be designated to work with the organizers on chapter formation.

Membership and Elections

Successful candidates for Student Chapter leadership positions (named in your constitution and bylaws) should be ALA members. As for being an ALA member during election, in theory, all candidates should be current ALA members. If not, it seems to suggest that unless elected, candidates don’t want to join the organization they want to lead. However, in practice, flexibility can rule. If your Chapter decides to allow nonmembers to run, however, it must require them to join immediately upon election (and I stress immediately). Who in your Chapter will be assigned the task to oversee that they do join? Perhaps this should be a Bylaws change to make it official? Again, in theory, officers should be elected only by other ALA members. In practice, however, again, flexibility must rule. Indeed, most Chapters’ bylaws indicate ALA membership is only encouraged and not mandatory. This being so, then, anyone should be allowed to vote. As far as participating in events and activities of the Student Chapter, anyone and everyone should be allowed to participate. Indeed, participation should be encouraged and ALA membership should be encouraged, as well. (All leaders, election rules, and governance procedures should be spelled out in your constitution and bylaws.)

Mentoring

MentorConnect is an informal mentoring network implemented within ALA Connect that allows all ALA members to participate and only requires that you actively choose to join the network in order to begin serving as a mentor or seeking a mentor.

Mentoring others is one of the most powerful ways you can give back to the profession, but it's not a relationship to be entered into lightly. If you join MC, you're making a commitment to help someone else. A strong mentoring relationship requires consistent contact between the mentor and mentee so think carefully about making this commitment before offering your services as a mentor.

Having effective mentors is important for your professional and personal growth. Asking someone to take the time to mentor you is a serious commitment . When someone agrees to mentor you, they're making an investment in your future. Plan on spending time with your mentor via MentorConnect in order to get the most from this important relationship.

Other Student Groups

There are often several student groups on the library school campus to handle student problems and concerns. The student chapter is concerned with external relations with ALA as a professional organization. All groups can exist side-by-side without any role conflict. In fact, if time constraints or other considerations seem to dictate it, groups can be combined, sharing officers and activities.

Public Awareness Campaign

  • Libraries Transform. Designed to increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals, the Libraries Transform campaign will ensure there is one clear, energetic voice for our profession. Showcasing the transformative nature of today’s libraries and elevating the critical role libraries play in the digital age.

Scholarships

Through its ALA Scholarship Program, the American Library Association (ALA) is committed to promoting and advancing the librarian profession. To demonstrate this commitment, the ALA and its units provide more than $300,000 annually for study in a master's degree in library and information studies from an ALA accredited program, or for a master's degree in school library media program that meets the ALA curriculum guidelines for a National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredited unit. See ALA-accredited programs of library and information services and NCATE/AASL-accredited program.

If you are considering a degree in library and information science, or if you know a student, library worker, or college graduate from an underrepresented group who might help shape the future of library services, the time is now to learn more about the American Library Association's Spectrum Scholarships.

Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program is ALA's national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.

Social Media

Student-to-Staff Program

Student-to-Staff Program
Students from 40 Student Chapters work with ALA staff during Annual Conference. In exchange for their working four hours a day for a total of 16 hours, these students receive free conference registration, housing, and a per diem for meal expenses. During free time, they may attend programs and participate in other conference activities.

Volunteering at Conference

Thanks for your interest in volunteering!

As of now, there is only one permanently established, formal program for volunteering at an ALA conference and that is the ALA Student to Staff Program, which is only held at Annual Conference. There are no volunteer opportunities offered during ALA Midwinter Meetings.

ALA Student to Staff Program

The Student to Staff Program is only offered during ALA Annual Conference. There are no volunteer opportunities offered during ALA Midwinter Meetings.

The Student to Staff program is only offered to ALA Student Chapters, which nominate 40 library students to assist ALA staff during ALA Annual Conference. If these students meet the criteria established under the program, in exchange for their working four hours a day for a total of 16 hours, these students receive free conference registration, housing, and a per diem for meal expenses. During free time, they may attend programs and participate in other conference activities.

When Was First ALA Student Chapter Started?

The first ALA Student Chapter was created in 1980 at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Each Student Chapter has its own character and purpose. ALA Student Chapters enhance students' ALA membership by providing leadership and programming opportunities on the campuses.

See also ALA Student Chapter Answers and Resources

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