Chapter Presidents and Presidents-Elect: Select Information

Select Information for Chapter Leaders

Information on this page addresses the partnership between ALA and Chapters. See either ALA Chapters or ALA Chapter Relations Office for links to resources for advocacy and other assistance for libraries, activities related to ALA and Chapters Partnership, and more.

| What Is a Chapter? | Chapter Membership and ALA Membership | Chapters Are Special | ALA and Chapters Work Together to Strengthen Their Partnership | The Chapter's Role Within ALA | ALA Chapter Councilors | Chapters Social Networking | Chapter Leaders Forum | E-Lists for Chapter Leaders | Updates for State and Regional Chapters Directory | Summary | Comments/Questions |

What Is a Chapter?

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.

State and Regional Chapters Directory
Contact information for Chapter leaders, including presidents, presidents-elect, councilors, and executive directors, and more.

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 The ALA and Chapters Partnership).

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. 

Chapter Membership and ALA Membership

It is estimated 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. 

Joint Student Membership Program
Forty-one Chapters partner with ALA to allow students to join ALA and one Chapter for one membership fee.

ALA Member and Customer Services
MACS is committed to providing the highest and most efficient service to ALA members and customers.

ALA Membership Development
Works to make the process of joining or renewing an ALA membership a simple experience.

Chapters Are Special

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.

ALA and Chapters Work Together to Strengthen Their Partnership

ALA and Chapters Partnership
The ALA and Chapters Partnership explains how the ALA and ALA Chapters partnership works.

The Chapter's Role within ALA

Voluntary Status

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.

ALA and Chapters Partnership
The ALA and Chapters Partnership explains how the ALA and ALA Chapters partnership works.

Helping ALA Help Chapters

State of the Chapter Annual Report
Each year Chapters complete an online survey to provide an overview of their past year's activities.

ALA Chapter Councilors

ALA Chapter Councilors
Provides resources for ALA Chapter Councilors to help them accomplish their duties.

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, alacro-l@ala.org and chapcoun@ala.org, and to one ALA business e-list, alacoun@ala.org. 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.

Chapters Social Networking

Social Networking and ALA Connect
Follow CRO on Facebook and Twitter.

Chapter Leaders Forum

Chapter Leaders Forum
Forum held at ALA Midwinter and Annual Conference provides a full agenda on a variety of topics to help prepare Chapter leaders to lead their association.

E-lists for Chapter Leaders

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).

Chapter leaders are subscribed to these CRO business e-lists:

Updates for State and Regional Chapters Directory

Please send any updates to the State and Regional Chapters Directory to Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office.

Summary

  • 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:
  • 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.

Comments/Questions

If you have comments and questions regarding the ALA Chapters website, please contact Don Wood, Chapter Relations Office.