ALA Student Membership: Your Questions Answered


Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the frequently asked questions. If you have other questions about the ALA Student Chapters, contact Mariel Colbert 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, and find out how other ALA Student Chapters have organized them under their bylaws.