The network of Chapters and Affiliates for the American Library Association extends the reach and effectiveness of all of our collective advocacy efforts on behalf of libraries and library workers. Currently, there are ALA chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam, plus regional chapters around the United States.
ALA may establish a chapter “…in any state, province, territory, or region in which a majority of ALA members residing within the area involved and voting on the issue favors such action; provided, however, that the total number of persons voting on the issue shall not be less than ten percent of the total number of ALA members residing within the area.” (ALA Bylaws, Article V)
Chapters are represented on the ALA Council. If there are both state and regional organizations, Council representation is through the state chapter, unless chapters in a region choose to take representation through the regional chapter, in which case the regional chapter would elect one representative from each state. All representation is currently through state chapters, not regional organizations. Chapters can and do have members who are not ALA members.
It is important to keep in mind that many states have more than one state association. School library media specialists, for instance, are frequently organized separately within states. There can be only one official ALA chapter in a state, however. Other organizations may affiliate with an ALA division; for instance, separate school library media associations are represented in AASL’s Affiliate Assembly. Other divisions also have affiliate structures. Some round tables have affiliates.
“ALA allows many opportunities for me to get involved and to become more active in the profession,” says Dora Ho, Young Adult Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library's North Hollywood Regional Branch and Past-President of CALA, the Chinese American Librarians Association, one of ALA’s five affiliated Ethnic Caucuses. “I am able to assume many leadership positions and to make a difference in librarianship.”
Affiliates: ALA Council may vote to affiliate with ALA (or with any subdivision of ALA at that subdivision’s request) “…any national or international organization having purposes similar to those of the Association or its subdivision.” (ALA Constitution, Article X, Sec.1) Affiliated organizations must be non-profit, must have constitution & bylaws not in conflict with ALA and its policies, must not discriminate in membership, must have a sufficiently large membership and length of existence to make its continuation likely. (See ALA Policy 9.2 and 9.3) ALA affiliates may – and do – admit members who are not members of ALA. ALA affiliates are not represented on the ALA Council. Not all national library associations are ALA affiliates.
Liaison to affiliate organizations is through the ALA Executive Office. Because of special historical relationships and because of ALA’s focus on recruitment and diversity, there is additional liaison to the ethnic caucuses, provided through the Offices for Literacy and Outreach, and Diversity.