Continuing Education and Professional Development

[last update 22 September 2003]


ALA and its divisions provide continuing education in a variety of venues and formats for librarians, library support staff and library trustees.  ALA and its divisions also develop competency statements for various specializations and provide a broad range of publications.

KEY ACTION/PRIORITY AREAS:  Education & Continuous Learning, Personnel Resources
RELATED ISSUES:  Accreditation, Library Personnel


  • ALAction 2005: By 2005, ALA will be a leader in continuing education for librarians and library personnel.
  • Policy 1.3 E: 4) Librarians have a variety of opportunities for professional development and continuing education. 5) Workshops and conferences conducted by ALA are available to librarians, trustees, and others interested in libraries.
  • Policy 56.3: The American Library Association is committed to a national comprehensive long-range plan for continuing education to improve the quality of library service, with appropriate support from ALA funds.  Standards for libraries and library education and guidelines for services developed by any ALA unit should include a significant continuing education component where appropriate.

Current efforts are focused on the following issues:

  • meeting increased resource competition, internally and externally;
  • utilizing new delivery technologies appropriately & effectively;
  • developing a sustainable model for scanning the ce environment;
  • effectively pulling together work in the areas of competencies, sequenced continuing education, and certification; and,
  • developing mechanisms for assessing and evaluating continuing education performance and impact.


  • ALA Divisions
  • ALA Conference Services
  • Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment/ALA Committee on Education/Education Assembly
  • Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange Round Table (CLENERT)


  • ALA-Allied Professional Association (certification)


  • 1965 -- The ALA Office for [Library ]Education was established, to coordinate ALA activities related to library education, including  informal and continuing education.
  • 1967 - Advisory Committee to the Office for Library Education appointed.
  • 1971 - ALA Council approved the ACONDA/ANACONDA recommendation to "combine ALA's existing staff activities relating to (1) library education and training, (2) recruitment, and (3) personnel utilization and concerns...into a new Office for Library Manpower to be responsible for the development of (1) appropriate programs, (2) standards and policies, and (3) procedures for implementation of standards...."
  • 1976 - ALA Council approved a revision of the Library Education and Manpower policy - the Library Education and Personnel Utilization Policy.  It was revised again in 2001 <?> -- <insert new title>.
  • 1977  -- ALA Library Education Division (LED) submitted "ALA's Responsibility for Library Education: A Proposal for Reorganization" to the ALA Council.  The report defined the scope of "library education" broadly:  "It encompasses not only full programs of formal, professional education, accredited and unaccredited, but also pre-professional training, post-master's programs, doctoral study, in-service training, continuing education, international aspects of library education at all these levels, and related topics such as certification, equivalency examinations, and other areas that have relevance to the preparation of personnel to work in libraries." (1976-1977 ALA Council #8.1 - ALA's Responsibility for Library Education: A Proposal for Reorganization, submitted by the Library Education Division, ALA Conference, 1977, Detroit)
  • 1977, pending Council action on the LED proposal, the ALA (Standing) Council Committee on Library Education and the Library Education Assembly were formed. SCOLE's membership was to include both practitioners and educators, with staff support from the ALA Office for Library Personnel Resources (now Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment).
  • 1979 - ALA convened ALA Looks at Continuing Education: A Policy Development Forum
  • June 1979 - ALA Council approved this resolution:  The ALA accepts responsibility for the promotion of continuing education for persons involved in library service...ALA will set standards for continuing education programs for librarianship and will provide for periodic review and updating of these standards.  ALA will work through its chapters to encourage funding for continuing library education at the state and local levels.  ALA will also press, as part of its legislative program, for federal funds that will include continuing education scholarships and for funds for development of model curricula.  ALA will cooperate and coordinate its efforts with other providers of continuing education.  There will be a strong relationship between a ALA's continuing education program and the Association's policies.  As new policies are adopted by the Association, their implications for the continuing education program will be reviewed.
  • 1988 - ALA Council adopted Guidelines for Quality in Continuing Education for Information, Library, and Media Personnel.
  • 1996 - PLA and LAMA proposed a Certified Public Library Administrator program.  ASCLA joined the effort in 1997.
  • 1997 - ALA Committee on Education (previously SCOLE) developed a draft design for a searchable "clearinghouse" database on continuing professional education.
  • 1999 - ALA convened the 1st Congress on Professional Education, focusing on initial preparation for librarianship.  Recommendations included recommendations to develop statements of core competencies, a coordinated approach to post-MLIS education.
  • 2000 --  ALA convened the 2nd Congress on Professional Education, focusing on continuing professional development.
  • 2002 --  ALA established the ALA-Allied Professional Association to promote the "mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers," including certification.
  • 2003 - ALA convened the 3rd Congress on Professional Education, focusing on support staff issues; many recommendations focused on continuing education.


Issue Summaries

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