The ALA Council Committee on Legislation (COL) is charged with the responsibility for the association’s legislative agenda. Specifically, to:
- Identify, for the Public Policy & Advocacy Office (formerly known as the Washington Office), the association’s strategic priorities.
- Recommend, annually, based on consultation with the Public Policy & Advocacy Office, a legislative and public policy agenda.
- Review and advise on, any policy statements and/or resolutions that have an impact on federal legislation, policy, or regulations.
- Provide a forum within ALA to share information and legislative analysis of current and impending federal laws and regulations to keep ALA units apprised of current issues affecting libraries.
- Be available to consult, collaborate and offer assistance to state and local library entities when federal legislation has implications at the state and local level.
In addition to attendance at three committee meetings at both the Annual Conference and the Midwinter Meeting, members will be appointed to at least one subcommittee by the COL Chair. Members, including the Chair are appointed by the president-elect for two-year staggered terms. Current members can ask to be re-appointed for a second two-year term. Member can only serve two consecutive terms.
The COL is staffed by the PPA Office who work closely with COL throughout the year on advocacy opportunities and legislative issues.
Members are also encouraged to attend the joint meeting of COL and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee. Attendance at ALA Council and policy update sessions is highly encouraged.
A retreat may be held annually (in DC when budgets allow, or in connection with the Midwinter Meeting).
Members participate in monthly conference calls.
National Library Legislative Day, held in Washington, DC, annually, usually in the first week of May, is another event that COL members are highly encouraged to attend.
Ellen Cooke and James Madison Award
Members of COL serve as jury members or appoint jury members for Cooke and Madison Award.
COL has two subcommittees: Government Information (GIS) and the Copyright Legislation, Education, and Advocacy Networth (CLEAN).
The COL members play a leadership role in library advocacy, by being active year-round advocates for libraries and serving as advocacy mentors to librarians and others.
COL sets the legislative agenda each year that lists priority issues for legislative action at the federal level. The agenda does not focus on issues that are not directly related to the advancement of libraries. The agenda's primary focus is legislation or potential legislation. Other policy matters affecting ALA that involve the executive or judicial branches of the federal government are handled by PPA staff who have the expertise to represent libraries. E-rate, rulemaking proceedings, formal calls for public comment, and friend of the court briefs are some examples.
COL welcomes the opportunity to report on its work or take questions from any division or other ALA unit.
It submits a report to ALA Council at each conference. These reports are available here.
COL also prepares News You Can Use programs for ALA conferences where there is a hot issue important to members, such as the 2020 Census or the Patriot Act.
Resolutions, Honorariums, and Memorials
There are three types of documents that COL refers to ALA Council. They are resolutions, honors (honorariums are amounts of money), and memorials. There are particular rules and guidelines for preparing each type of document.
COL may draft Council resolutions or evaluate resolutions that have a legislative impact. ALA can affect library and information policy in the legislative arena when our message is focused on issues that directly impact libraries such as federal funding, government information, copyright, and equitable access to information. COL cannot support legislation that is outside of the scope of libraries because it not only dilutes our message, it also has no impact or creates a misperception about the mission of the Association. ALA Council occasionally refers legislative matters to COL for clarification and resolution.
COL considers several questions in its discussions - such as:
- If and how does the issue have an impact on libraries and library users?
- How does an issue relate to existing ALA policies or does it require new policy decisions and/or resources?
- What other organizations and coalitions, inside as well as outside of ALA, are concerned about and/or working on the issue?
- What are some of the options for action?
- Take no position
- Take active steps
- Go to the mat (either for or against)
- Wait and see
- What are ALA's capacities and resources to affect the issue? In Congress? In the Executive Branch? Elsewhere?
- What is the time frame for action?
- How will ALA mobilize advocates and grassroots networks, especially relative to the time frame of the political environment?
- What will success look like?
Relationship to other ALA units and associations
The Committee on Library Advocacy (COLA) works closely with COL but focuses on state and local library advocacy.
The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) works with COL when issues intersect with federal legislation, particularly privacy.
COL collaborates with Chapter Relations by providing advocacy support to state library asssociations when needed.
The Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) also partners with COL on issues of mutual interest, primarily federal library appropriations.
COL occasionally participates in events, programs, or advocacy related activities with the Policy Corps. The Chair of COL is asked to review candidates for the Corps when calls for expressions of interest are announced.
Displaying active committee roster as of 12/05/2023. Last retrieved on 12/05/2023. Members can log in and refresh the page to view full contact information for committee members.
Guidelines for Subcommittee Composition and Appointment
The ALA Policy Manual provides:
Subcommittees in the ALA structure may be formed by a parent group to carry out specific duties related to the charge of the parent group. Such subcommittees are appointed by the chair of the parent committee but are not limited to members of the parent committee; they do not have a separate life and must report to the parent committee for action. They can be abolished by the decision of the parent committee. (A.4.3.7)
The Committee on Legislation (COL) from time to time forms subcommittees to support and advise its work. COL establishes the following guidelines as expectations for its subcommittees:
- Number of members: The COL chair will appoint a minimum of 7 members and a maximum of 15 members to each subcommittee.
- Member Terms:
- Generally, each subcommittee member will be appointed to a two-year term on the subcommittee.
- Each subcommittee's members' terms will be staggered so that no more than 50% plus one of its members' terms expire each year.
- In the case of an early vacancy, if the COL chair appoints a new member to fill the vacancy, the new member will be appointed to complete the previous member's term.
- If the COL chair appoints additional members to a subcommittee, the chair will assign new members fo one-year terms as necessary to maintain that no more than 50% plus one of the subcommittee's members' terms expire each year.
- Chairs: Subcommittee members must serve one year on the subcommittee as a member before being eligible for chairperson. Each subcommittee chair or c-chair will be appointed to a one-year term as chair. In the case of an early vacancy, the COL chair will appoint a new subcommittee chair to complete the previous chair's term.
- Timing of appointments: The COL chair will appoint subcommittee members and chairs by July 31 for that ALA year.
- Eligibility for appointment: The COL chair may appoint ALA members who are not COL members to task forces or subcommittees as members or chairs.
- Volunteering for appointment: The COL chair will offer an expression of interest form for ALA members to volunteer for appointment to a subcommittee.
- COL members on subcommittees: The COL chair will appoint a minimum of one COL member to each subcommittee. There is an expectation that all COL members will serve on a subcommittee.
- Reporting to COL: Each subcommittee chair will liaise with COL or designate a liaison. Each subcommittee chair or liaison will report to COL on the subcommittee's activities at each Annual and Midwinter conference or as requested by the COL chair.
Subcommitees and Task Forces
To consist of 15 members having staggered terms. Chairpersons are appointed annually. Each year the president-elect of ALA appoints the chair and new members to fill the staggered terms of about half of the COL membership.