ALA Student Chapter Answers
This FAQ helps explain how the ALA and ALA Student Chapters partnership works and provides easy access to ALA resources for Student Chapters. It also shows ways to get involved in ALA Student Chapters.
| What Are ALA Student Chapters? | How Do I Start a Student Chapter, and Why, or The Benefits! | What Can the ALA Student Chapters Do for Themselves and Others? | What Else Does ALA Offer Student Chapters? | Social Networking | Where to Find Additional Resources for ALA Student Chapters | Chapter Answers | ALA Student Membership: Frequently Asked Questions Answered | ALA Student Support Portal | How Can I Join ALA and My State Library Association for One Low Price? | Some Frequently Asked Questions |
- The first ALA Student Chapter was created in 1980 at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The most recent ALA Student Chapter was created in 2011. Now numbering over 60, 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.
- Coordinated by the ALA Chapter Relations Office (see "What is the Chapter Relations Office?" at Chapter Answers and ALA Chapter Relations Office).
- Where Are Future ALA Leaders? Most Likely in the Fifty-six ALA Student Chapters!
- See also Chapter Answers
- Student Chapter leaders are subscribed to a CRO business e-list, firstname.lastname@example.org
Belonging to ALA Student Chapter enhances students’ ALA membership by providing the opportunity to learn and hone leadership skills and to design and accomplish programs, participate in community volunteer work, network with other ALA members and ALA leaders, and more.
ALA student members at the master’s level and beyond are eligible to form official ALA student chapter groups at schools offering ALA-accredited programs of library and information services, or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an NCATE/AASL-accreditted program. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is a national accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. NCATE determines which schools, colleges, and departments of education meet rigorous national standards in preparing teachers and other school specialists for the classroom. The American Library Association and the American Association of School Libraries were pleased at recent interest expressed by students and faculty at a number of schools in forming ALA Student Chapters to foster professional affiliation. As a result ALA has expanded its Student Chapter program so that NCATE-accredited programs can establish ALA Student Chapters.
- Student Chapters pay no fee to ALA;
- Student Chapter leaders pay ALA student dues; individual members of the student chapter group are encouraged to pay ALA student dues, and often do;
- Each ALA student member is entitled to all the regular ALA personal membership benefits at a substantially reduced dues rate; some ALA Chapters partner with ALA to provide joint membership opportunities for students; and
- A plaque will be sent to the Student Chapter by ALA upon receipt of an approved, ratified constitution and bylaws.
Another benefit of being a member of a Student Chapter is the ALA Student to Staff Program. Each year through this program, 40 library students are chosen to assist ALA staff during ALA Annual Conference. In exchange for working four hours a day (or a total of 20 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. Qualifying students must be a current ALA member and a Student Chapter member, and cannot have previously participated in the program. Moreover, the student must remain an ALA member through the ALA Annual Conference that he or she is nominated to participate in.
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.
More . . . .
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.
Getting Started, Elections, and More
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.
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.)
Join ALA and Your State Library Association for One Low Price!
Joint membership program
Students, join ALA and Your State Library Association for one low price. If your state association is interested in participating in a joint membership program, please contact the Chapter Relations Office.
Promote joining your state library association. Here are reasons why! A State Association by Any Other Name is Still a Home to You! Need more!: 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. Interested? 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.
Monetary Support for Your Chapter
Your chapter may support its programs through fundraising activities, dues paid to the student chapter group, or contributions from the school administration.
Brainstorm ideas with other student chapters (an online directory is found on the ALA website).
$100 from ALA
More good news! Your chapter can be reimbursed for up to $100 per fiscal year (ALA’s fiscal year, which would be, for example, Sept. 1, 2016, through August 31, 2017) for programs and events it holds. All you need to do is send your original receipts to the ALA Chapter Relations Office at 50 E. Huron St., Chicago IL 60611, attention, Don Wood., with a letter requesting the reimbursement and to whom it should be sent. We do ask that if possible, receipts are sent together rather than smaller requests throughout the year. Much thanks!
Arrange campus visits from ALA program staff, ALA Officers, ALA Councilors, or ALA committee chairs. Visitors may be invited to visit classes or give a formal presentation, with informal gatherings either preceding or following the presentation. In order to keep costs to the student chapter to a minimum, such a campus visit might be added to a previously planned trip or draw on ALA members in your area. The Staff Liaison can help you to determine which ALA staff or members would be available to visit your school on a certain date.
Student tours of local libraries might be arranged with active ALA members, giving students an opportunity to investigate current library practice from a professional perspective. Brown-bag lunches on campus where local ALA members are invited to share experiences and career development ideas with students in an informal atmosphere.
Attend local events, such as your state library association’s annual conferences and ALA national and division conferences when you can.
Start a website, e-list, blog, Facebook, or other social networking tools for student chapter members, with news from conferences, a calendar of campus events, and interviews (see "Social Networking" below). Include articles on curriculum changes, new faculty members, and fellowships available to students from off-campus sources. Use chapter communication tools for humorous articles and to publicize student chapter programs.
Your chapter can raise funds for library relief, get involved in volunteer work for your community, become active in library advocacy, any project . . . . “Imagination is stronger than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.”—Albert Einstein
First things first. Check out the Student Chapter Resources page for news and events related to the Student Chapter Groups. For more information on any of the topics, please contact the Chapter Relations Office.
Next, and in no particular order . . . .
If you are a Student Chapter leader, faculty advisor, or dean, be sure you are subscribed to the CRO business e-list, email@example.com. The Chapter Relations Office created an e-list to allow students to connect with other chapters and exchange information regarding chapter activities, events, and other ideas. This e-list is the primary means of direct communication from the Chapter Relations Office to the Student Chapters. To be subscribed, please contact Don Wood.
Because this e-list is the primary means of direct communication (and there’s also the phone! . . . 1-800-545-2433, ext. 2429, or 1-312-280-2429), please send all updates to your leadership contacts to Don Wood.
The 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.
Join a Round Table
Links to information about ALA Conference Placement Service, JobList, scholarships, and more, can be found at the ALA Office for Human Resource Development & Recruitment.
The Office for Diversity oversees the ALA Annual Diversity Research Grant, which addresses critical gaps in the knowledge of diversity issues within library and information science, and the Spectrum Scholarship Program, 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.
Awards, Grants, Scholarships
ALA Leaders and Promotional Materials
If you would like an ALA leader to speak at your Student Chapter, or if you would like ALA promotional and informational materials, we will try to arrange this. Contact Don Wood with all the particulars (i.e., who you would like to speak, when, on what topic, if any, etc.; what kinds of materials you would like, for example, membership brochures).
The American Library Association (ALA) is now providing members a common virtual space to engage in ALA business and network with other members around issues and interests relevant to the profession. Every group in ALA Connect will have the ability to use the following tools:
ALA Mentor Connect
ALA has launched MentorConnect in ALA Connect so you can find or become a mentor.
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.
Facebook, Twitter, and more
- ALA Chapters on Facebook
- ALA Chapter Relations Office on Twitter
- ALA Student Chapter fan page
- American Library Association Student to Staff Participants (closed group for participants only)
- ALA Student to Staff fan page
- ALA Student Blog
- American Library Association on Facebook
Michael Dowling, Director
Chapter Relations Office
firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-545-2433, ext. 3200
Don Wood, Program Officer
Chapter Relations Office
email@example.com, 1-800-545-2433, ext. 2429; 1-312-280-2429
Send comments and questions regarding this page to Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611, or call: Toll-free 1-800-545-2433 x2429, in Chicago 1-312-280-2429, or FAX: (312) 280-4392,