About ALA


Mission | Divisions | ALA Offices | ALA Officers | Executive Board

The American Library Association was founded in 1876 in Philadelphia and later chartered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; it is the oldest, largest, and most influential library association in the world. The ALA has approximately 63,000 members, including not only librarians but also library trustees, publishers, 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. The Executive Board is the body that manages, within this context, 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. ALA operations are directed by an 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 17 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.

Mission | Divisions | ALA Offices | ALA Officers | Executive Board


The ALA’s member divisions are:

Mission | Divisions | ALA Offices | ALA Officers | Executive Board

ALA Offices    

These units of the Association address 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:

*The OGR and the OITP are housed at the ALA’s Washington Office; the others are in Chicago.

Mission | Divisions | ALA Offices | ALA Officers | Executive Board

ALA Officers 2008–2009    

Camila A. Alire
Professor, Simmons College, Boston
Adjunct Professor, San Jose (Calif.) University

Roberta A. Stevens
Outreach Projects and Partnerships Officer
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Immediate Past-President
Jim Rettig
University Librarian
University of Richmond (Va.)

Rodney M. Hersberger
Dean (Director), University Library
California State University at Bakersfield

Executive Director
Keith Michael Fiels
ALA Headquarters

Mission | Divisions | ALA Offices | ALA Officers | Executive Board

Executive Board    

Diane R. Chen
John F. Kennedy Middle School
Antioch, Tennessee

Joseph M. Eagan
Montgomery County Public Libraries
Olney, Maryland

Patricia M. Hogan
Poplar Creek Public Library District
Streamwood, Illinois

Em Claire Knowles
Simmons College
Boston, Massachusetts

Charles E. Kratz
Weinberg Memorial Library
University of Scranton (Pa.)

Stephen L. Matthews
Foxcroft School
Middleburg, Virginia

Larry Romans
Head, Government Information Services
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

Courtney L. Young
Pennsylvania State University
Monaca, Pennsylvania