Founded in 1876 in Philadelphia and later chartered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the American Library Association is the oldest, largest, and most influential library association in the world. The ALA has more than 61,000 members, including librarians, library trustees, and other interested people from every state and many nations. The association serves public, state, school, and academic libraries, as well as special libraries for people working in government, commerce and industry, the arts, and the armed services or in hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.
The ALA’s mission is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”
Headquartered in Chicago, the ALA is governed by an elected Council, its policy-making body, and an Executive Board, which acts for the Council in the administration of established policies and programs. Within this context, the Executive Board is the body that manages the affairs of the Association, delegating management of the day-to-day operation to the Association’s executive director. The ALA also has 37 standing committees, designated as committees of the Association or of the Council. The Association’s operations are directed by the executive director and implemented by staff through a structure of programmatic offices and support units.
The ALA is home to 11 membership divisions, each focused on a type of library or library function, and 18 round tables for members who share interests that do not fall within the scope of any of the divisions. A network of affiliates, chapters, and other organizations enables the ALA to reach a broad audience.
Key action areas include diversity, equitable access to information and library services, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, advocacy for libraries and the profession, literacy, and organizational excellence.The ALA is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization.
The ALA’s member divisions are:
- 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 Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations (ALTAFF)
- Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)
- Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)
- Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA)
- Public Library Association (PLA)
- Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)
- Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
These units of the Association address the broad interests and issues of concern to ALA members; they track issues and provide information, services, and products for members and the general public. Current ALA offices are:
- Chapter Relations Office
- Development Office
- Governance Office
- International Relations Office
- Office for Accreditation (OA)
- Office for Diversity (OFD)
- Office of Government Relations (OGR)*
- Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR)
- Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)*
- Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)
- Office for Library Advocacy (OLA)
- Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS)
- Office for Research and Statistics (ORS)
- Public Information Office (PIO)
- Public Programs Office (PPO)
- Washington Office
*The OGR and the OITP are housed at the ALA’s Washington Office; the others are in Chicago.