The American Library Association has affiliate relationships with state library associations (Chapters) in all fifty States, the District of Columbia,Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and regional library associations in the Mountain Plains, New England, Pacific Northwest, and Southeastern regions. Chapters promote general library service and librarianship within its geographic area, provide geographic representation to the Council of the American Library Association, and cooperate in the promotion of general and joint enterprises with the American Library Association and other library groups.
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- Chapter leaders are subscribed to CRO business e-lists:
- Chapter Presidents, Presidents-elect, and Councilors are subscribed to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chapter Engage contacts are subscribed to email@example.com
- Chapter Councilors are subscribed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Chapter Councilors and Chapter Relations Committee members have their own ALA Connect Community
- The Chapter Relations Committee members are subscribed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- The Chapters Executive Directors are subscribed to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chapter Councilors represent state chapters on the ALA Council. There is no current regional chapter representation.
- Find more social networking resources for Chapters
- ALA and Chapters and ALA Conferences and Meetings (explains the special business relationship between the ALA Chapters and ALA)
- ALA Connect is a centralized space where official ALA groups can work together online.
- Chapter Answers leads to explanations on how the ALA and ALA Chapters partnership works and provides easy access to ALA resources for Chapters. See also Overview of ALA Select Resources for Chapters.
- Chapter Issues are where Chapters share with each other how they address issues.
- Chapter Leaders Forum, presented by the ALA Chapter Relations Committee at each ALA Midwinter and Annual, provides a great opportunity for Chapter Leaders (especially incoming leaders) to meet together and prepares them to lead their associations (see also The ALA and Chapters Partnership, descriptions about how the ALA and ALA Chapters partnership works and Chapter Answers).
- ALA's Affiliates Conference & Event Planning Calendar is now online as Affiliate and Chapter Planning Calendar. To include your ALA Chapter, ALA Affiliates, and Division Conferences, Institutes, or Workshops in this calendar, please contact Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office, with names, titles, URLs, dates, and locations. Report additions or errors to Don Wood. It is highly appreciated when the subject line contains the word calendar.
- Helping United States Libraries After Disasters provides informaiton on how to help states after disasters.
- Joint Student Membership Program provides information on joint memberships with the American Library Association. See also Joint Student Membership Partnership between ALA and Chapters: How Does It Work?
- The Select ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference Schedule for Chapters lists CRO and CRC meetings, events, and programs during these annual conferences.
- State of the Chapter Annual Report are snapshot reports (All State of the Chapter Reports) that help Chapters and ALA assess the health and vitality of state and regional library associations (see also The ALA and Chapters Partnership).
| What Is a Chapter? | Chapter Membership and ALA Membership | Chapters Are Special | Chapters Share with Each Other How They Address Issues | The Chapter's Role Within ALA | ALA Chapter Councilors | Chapters Social Networking | Chapter Leaders Forum | E-Lists | Change of Address Form for State and Regional Chapters Directory | Summary | Comments/Questions |
A chapter is “any legally constituted state, provincial, regional or territorial library association” ( ALA Constitution, Article X, section 3; Bylaws Article V. Each state library association is a Chapter of the American Library Association (ALA). Chapters are established by ALA’s governing body, the ALA Council. See also Chapter Answers. There are currently 57 chapters, representing the following geographic areas, but only 53, the non-regional Chapters, are represented on the ALA Council:
- Fifty state library associations, councils, or federations
- District of Columbia
- The territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Four regional associations, including the Mountain Plains Library Association, New England Library Association, Pacific Northwest Library Association, and the Southeastern Library Association.
Each Chapter and regional Chapter has a president and president-elect. Only non-regional Chapters have a Chapter Councilor serving on the ALA Council. Established by the ALA Council upon recommendation of the ALA Executive Board on January 11, 1967, the Chapter Relations Committee (CRC) develops and recognizes Chapters as integral components of ALA. The ALA liaison to the Chapters is the ALA Chapter Relations Office (see also What ALA Does for Chapters).
The purpose of a chapters, as defined by the ALA Bylaws, is as follows:
- to promote general library service and librarianship within its geographic area,
- to provide geographic representation to the Council of the American Library Association, and
- to cooperate in the promotion of general and joint enterprises with the American Library Association and other library groups.
It is estmated that 50 percent of ALA members also belong to their state chapters, and 50 percent of chapter members also belong to ALA. No state chapter memberships automatically include ALA membership or vice versa.
There are many other affiliates and networks that represent geographic entities within ALA, such as:
- state associations for school librarians and media specialists
- state academic and research library associations
- intellectual freedom network
- legislative networks
- other professional and interest groupings.
None of these groups are afforded the rank of “Chapter” within the ALA governance and organizational structure.
Chapters share with each other how they address issues. Each discussion is sorted alphabetically by state library association (Chapter). See also What Chapters Are, What ALA Does for Chapters (including links to resources), and The ALA and Chapters Partnership, which are pages of answers and explanations about how the ALA and ALA Chapters partnership works.
Chapter status is voluntary. It is requested by an eligible library association and established by ALA Council action. A chapter may vote to withdraw from the arrangement, or Council can dissolve a chapter for inactivity or failure to comply with ALA Bylaws. A chapter's degree of activity in ALA depends on how active a chapter wants to be. There are few requirements of chapters and only a few actions are prohibited. Basic requirements are limited to the following:
Dues and Constitution and Bylaws
- Chapters dues, currently $150 annually, must be paid by March 1, which means renewal notices are sent in January.
- Copies of chapter constitutions and bylaws, plus subsequent amendments, must be filed with ALA headquarters.
What Chapters Can Do
However, there are a number of areas of ALA policy and practice where chapters are given a wide range of control. For example:
- Chapters have the final authority within ALA for all programs and policies that concern only the area for which the chapter is responsible, provided no action or policy is inconsistent with programs and policies established by Council.
- Chapters may establish committees or boards to maintain liaison with similar committees within the ALA. This procedure has been particularly effective in the areas of legislation and intellectual freedom.
- Chapters are to be consulted about any ALA divisional conferences to be held in the chapter's geographic region prior to the division presenting its request for a national conference to the ALA Executive Board.
- Chapters can contribute to ALA dues income by encouraging ALA membership among the members of the state or regional association. Providing ALA membership information at the local level encourages membership in the national organization.
- Financial assistance from the chapters also can be provided to the ALA Washington Office to aid in legislative activities. The chapter's role in the political arena involves both financial support and personal lobbying. A national organization is not as influential with individual lawmakers as a senator's or representative's own constituency. Presenting local library needs to elected officials is a vital chapter activity.
The reason a national organization has chapters is to provide a wide geographic viewpoint on library-related issues. To help ensure that such input is available, each chapter is allowed a chapter representative on the ALA Council.
Helping ALA Help Chapters
To help both ALA and Chapters get a better picture of the library associations across the country, each Chapter provides ALA with a "State of the Chapter Annual Report."
The Council is the governing body of ALA. It delegates to the divisions of the Association authority to plan and carry out programs and activities with policy established by Council. Only personal members of the Association may serve on Council. (See Bylaw Article IV.)
Council meets at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and at the ALA Annual Conference. Chapter Councilors are subscribed to two CRO business e-lists, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, and to one ALA business e-list, email@example.com. They have their own community on ALA Connect.
There are 53 Chapter Councilors, representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Regional associations are not allowed a designated representative to the ALA Council). Chapter Councilors make up approximately 29 percent of the 187-member Council.
The following rules govern the actions of the chapter councilor:
- Chapter councilors serve a three-year term (same as all other councilors).
- No person may serve simultaneously as a councilor elected at-large and elected by a chapter.
- The person elected must be a personal ALA member.
- All chapter members may vote in the election of a chapter councilor, even though chapters may admit members who are not ALA members.
- An interim councilor may be appointed by a chapter to fill a vacancy; the appointment, however, lasts only until the next regular election or a maximum of one year.
- All chapter councilors, whether elected or appointed, must be accredited by the chapter to the Secretary of the Council prior to the first ALA Council meeting following their selection.
The Chapter Leaders Forum, presented by the ALA Chapter Relations Committee at each ALA Midwinter and Annual, provides a great opportunity for Chapter Leaders (especially incoming leaders) to meet together and prepares them to lead their association. The program presents topics of interest to chapter leaders, including association management, advocacy, conference planning, social media, and membership development and retention.
To subscribe to the Chapter Relations business e-list, ALACRO-L, please contact a staff member listed below. To subscribe to other ALA e-lists, or visit the e-list archives, visit the ALA Mailing Lists Service (SYMPA).
- A Chapter promotes general library service and librarianship within its geographic area, provides geographic representation to the ALA Council, and cooperates in the promotion of general and joint enterprises with ALA and other library groups.
- Chapter Councilors have specific duties:
- helping complete the State of the Chapter Annual Report;
- promoting ALA at their associations' annual conferences (e.g., ordering ALA materials to display at the conference (Word)).
- For other duties, see Chapter Checklist to Provide Information to the ALA Chapter Relations Office (Word).
- Perhaps the best way to find out what Chapters do is to explore their websites, in particular their advocacy efforts on behalf of the libraries within their states and their annual conferences.
- Another way to find out how Chapters function is by studying their self-reported activities, either in their newsletters, on their websites (including blogs), or in the annual survey they submit to ALA. This survey is called the State of the Chapter Annual Report.
- These snapshot reports (All State of the Chapter Reports) help Chapters and ALA assess the health and vitality of state and regional library associations. These reports help highlight notable activities and achievements that can be modeled, and identify challenges and needs that may be addressed collectively.
If you have comments and questions regarding the ALA Chapters website, please contact Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office.
The Chapter Relations Office supports ALA's library advocacy efforts by tracking state and federal legislation affecting libraries, assists Chapters in using their Capwiz sites, and by working with the Office for Library Advocacy, the ALA Washington Office, I Love Libraries, other ALA units, and other groups. For links to resources and other information, visit CRO's Legislation and Advocacy page.
Certified Public Library Administrator program
This is a voluntary post-MLS certification program for public librarians with three years or more of supervisory experience. For more information, visit the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.
Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference Schedules
The Select ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference Schedule for Chapters lists CRO and CRC meetings, events, and programs during these annual conferences.
ALA Conference Planning Calendar
ALA’s Conference Planning Calendar includes chapter conferences. To have your ALA Chapter, ALA Affiliates, and Division Conferences, Institutes, or Workshops included in this calendar, please contact Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office, with the dates and location.