About ALA & Our Mission

The ALA Mission: To provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and to ensure access to information for all.
ALA mission graphic

Our Strategic Priorities

ALA and its members work with libraries, the broader library community and members of the public to advocate for the value of libraries and for public support for libraries of all types.

The American Library Association's Public Policy and Advocacy office represents libraries on Capitol Hill. The team is charged with following and influencing legislation, policy, and regulatory issues of importance to the library field.

ALA provides resources to support all aspects and all stages of your library career: School, jobs, continuing education and professional growth.

ALA recognizes that equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) impacts all aspects of work among members of the Association, within the field of librarianship, and within the communities served by libraries.

Our Core Values

What We Do

The association works to increase public awareness of the value of libraries and librarians, to promote state and national legislation beneficial to libraries and library users, and to supply resources and support to local library advocates.

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Diversity is reflected in the association's commitment to recruiting people of color and people with disabilities to the profession, and to the promotion and development of library collections and services for all people.

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The association provides opportunities for the professional development and education of all library staff members and trustees. It promotes continuous, lifelong learning for all people through library and information services of every type.

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The Association advocates for funding and policies that support libraries as great democratic institutions, providing the full range of information resources to people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability.

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Intellectual freedom is a basic right in a democratic society and a core value of the library profession. The ALA actively defends the right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

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The ALA assists and promotes libraries in helping children and adults develop the ability to read and utilize information resources -understanding that literacy is essential in a global information society.

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The association is inclusive, effective, and responsive to the needs of ALA members.

ALA provides leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasingly global digital information environment.

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How You Can Help

ALA membership is open to individuals, organizations, non-profits, and businesses interested in working together to change the world for the better through libraries and librarians.

Find out how you can join ALA’s work to positively impact libraries.

Your contribution supports new librarian development, cultural programming, advocacy efforts, and more.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness, and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide.

Drive for books for fighters. Photo shows a number of girls each with a pile of books wending her way into the Public Library Building, New York, where they left books to be sent to camps. This campaign for books was started by the American Library Association. March 18, 1918

ALA History

During the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, 103 librarians (90 men and 13 women) responded to a call for a "Convention of Librarians" to be held October 4-6 at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The aim of the Association, in that resolution, was "to enable librarians to do their present work more easily and at less expense." Attendees came from as far west as Chicago and from England.

According to Ed Holley in his essay "ALA at 100," at the end of the meeting "the register was passed around for all to sign who wished to become charter members," making October 6, 1876 the birthday of the American Library Association.

Among those in attendance at the meeting were Justin Winsor (Boston Public, Harvard), William Frederick Poole (Chicago Public, Newberry), Charles Ammi Cutter (Boston Athenaeum), Melvil Dewey (Amherst), and Richard Rogers Bowker (Publisher's Weekly).

(Image: American Library Association Campaigns - Drive for books for WWI fighters. March 18, 1918 . Photo shows a number of girls each with a pile of books wending her way into the Public Library Building, New York, where they left books to be sent to camps. This campaign for books was started by the American Library Association. [National Archives and Records])