ALA Student Membership: Your Questions Answered

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Who Is Eligible?

Students  enrolled in MLS/MLIS, NCATE, and LTA programs are eligible for ALA's discounted student membership dues and are encouraged to participate in ALA activities, including committee work, conferences, and programs. Get involved with your association and to learn from experienced librarians and to offer your own fresh perspectives and ideas.

What Will I Find Here?

Look here for answers to questions you may have about ALA student membership.  This includes the details about discounted ALA, division and round table dues, joint ALA and state library chapter memberships at special dues rates.  If you're looking for answers to questions about student chapters at your school, you can find them at ALA Student Chapter Answers.

Where Can I Go for More Answers?

In addition, be sure to visit ALA membership pages and the ALA Student Members page for the most current information about all types of ALA membership, as well as the ALA Student Chapter homepage, to learn about benefits such the ALA Student Member blog) and the Student to Staff program. If you have questions about ALA membership, please contact ALA Member and Customer Service. Also visit the ALA Student Support Portal.

Types of ALA Student Memberships

See also Student Members, ALA Personal Membership, and Dues and Member Types.

Dear Joint Student Membership Program, What Are Four Important Quick Facts I Need to Know?

The four important quick facts I need to know about the joint student membership program are:

  • PLEASE NOTE: Joint ALA membership cannot be added to a current Chapter membership. ALA encourages students who joined their Chapter before knowing about the joint student membership program to join ALA as a joint ALA-Chapter member when their Chapter membership comes up for renewal.
  • After joining ALA, current ALA students—within 90 days of joining ALA—may convert their memberships to joint student memberships. Contact ALA Members and Customer Service at 800-545-2433 (press 5).
  • You may join any one of the 39 participating Chapters and ALA through the joint student membership program. For example, if your state library association is not yet a partner in the program, you may join a neighboring state library association that is a partner, or one across the country; but you just can't join more than one partnering Chapter and ALA. Each joint student membership is between one of the partnering Chapters and ALA.
  • If your state library association (chapter) is interested in participating in the joint student membership program, please contact the Chapter Relations Office. See also Joint Student Membership Partnership between ALA and Chapters: How Does It Work?

Joining ALA Divisions and Round Tables

You must be an ALA member to belong to be a member of an ALA division or round table. See Student MembersALA Personal Membership, and Dues and Member Types.

ALA Divisions

Each ALA Division has a student membership category, and usually with reduced dues. The links below take you directly to how to join them.

ALA Round Tables

Round tables have student membership categories, and usually with reduced dues (e.g., the International Relations Round Table is $5 for U.S. students and free for international students). Round tables are a good way to find a "place" in ALA and to make your voice heard on topics of interest to you. 

The New Members Round Table sponsors the NMRT student chapter of the year award. See also Student and Student Chapter Outreach Committee (SASCO), which develops and maintains a network of individuals able to promote ALA and NMRT.

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Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the frequently asked questions. If you have other questions about the ALA Student Chapters, contact Don Wood at the ALA Chapter Relations Office. See also ALA Student Chapter Answers.

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.

See also How to Start a Student Chapter and Where Are Future ALA Leaders? Most Likely in the Fifty-six ALA Student Chapters!,

Do I have to be an ALA member to participate in the ALA Student to Staff program?

Yes. See Student-to-staff Program. See also 40 Student Chapter Members Chosen to Participate in the 2016 Student to Staff Program.

Can I join more than one Chapter (state library association) per year as a joint student?

No. Because it's a discounted membership for two associations, you can join only one Chapter and ALA per year through the ALA joint membership program.

Is it possible to have a student chapter of AASL, for example?  We have an ALA student chapter, but we would be interested in a more specific AASL student chapter if that is possible.

Many Student Chapter members have set up subgroups under their ALA Student Chapter, for example, ACRL subgroups, IRRT subgroups, and AASL subgroups. You might want to send a message to the e-list, stuchapt@lists.ala.org and find out how other ALA Student Chapters have organized them under their bylaws.