A.4. Governing Structure (Old Number 13)

Policy Manual

A.4.1 Executive Board Review (Old Number 13.1)

The Executive Board shall review administrative decisions made in the internal management of Headquarters by the Executive Director.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Policy Monitoring Committee Report, 2016-2017 ALA CD#17, Item #2. Amended June 26, 2017)

A.4.1.1 Executive Director

The Executive Director shall be authorized to carry out the provisions of the budget including hiring and firing of staff without submitting matters previously authorized or individual appointments to the Executive Board except in the form of reports of action. Any action by the Executive Director shall be subject to review by the Executive Board upon request of any member of the Executive Board. An ALA accredited Master’s Degree or a CAEP-accredited Master’s Degree with a specialty in school library media is a strongly preferred qualification for the ALA Executive Director.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Policy Monitoring Committee Report, 2017-2018 ALA CD#17.1, Item #4) (Also, see “Policy Reference File”: Policy Monitoring Committee Report, 2016-2017 ALA CD#17, Item #2)


A.4.2 Council (Old Number 5)


A.4.2.1 Relationships of Executive Board and Council (Old Number 5.1)

The Executive Board shall make available to members of Council copies of the full minutes of all its meetings when requested, together with any explanatory or other statements on matters coming before Council for action. Biennially, the Executive Board/Executive Director shall prepare and submit to Council a progress report on the health of the Association. This report shall bring together the data needed to assess the Association’s progress in accomplishing its objectives.


A.4.2.2 Motions for Council Action (Old Number 5.2)

Any ALA Committee chair reporting recommendations to the Council may move any action items in the report with no second required.

A Council motion or resolution which has fiscal implications must be submitted to the Executive Director and the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) 24 hours before it is to be voted on.* BARC will provide estimated fiscal information, or indicate that there is insufficient time to get such information, or that the motion is not specific enough to enable BARC to estimate the costs involved. If any solution would impose specific assignments on a division, it will be reviewed by BARC with the division board of directors to assess the financial needs in that assignment; BARC will report to Council recommended budgetary adjustments necessary to implement that assignment. BARC’s report on all resolutions with fiscal implications will be given to Council prior to final Council action. BARC will consider all resolutions referred to it and report to Council no later than the last Council session of that meeting whether a determination has been made or when it will be made.

*If there are fewer than 24 hours between the adjournment of Council II and the convening hour of Council III, resolutions may be submitted within 90 minutes following adjournment of Council II.


A.4.2.3 Council Resolutions: Guidelines for Preparation (Old Number 5.3)

The following guidelines are addressed to individuals and units preparing resolutions to come before Council.

Definition: A resolution is a main motion, phrased formally, with (a) whereas clauses, stating the background and reasons for a proposed policy, advocacy position, or action), followed by (b) Resolved clauses in numbered order (stating the proposed policy, advocacy position, or action).


  1. A resolution must be complete so that, upon passage, it becomes a clear and formal expression of the opinion or will of the assembly.

  2. Resolutions, including memorials, tributes, and testimonials, must show the initiating unit, mover, and seconder and provide specific contact information from submitting parties. A resolution without a sponsor will not be presented.

  3. The resolution should address a specific topic or issue, use concise direct language, conform to proper grammar, and present an affirmative identifiable action.

  4. The terms used in a resolution should be readily understandable or have specific definitions.

  5. The intent, objective or goal of the resolution should be clear and purposeful.

  6. Resolutions should clearly support ALA’s Strategic Plan, its mission and/or its core values.

  7. All whereas clauses that relate to an ALA policy, must include a parenthetical notation of the title of the policy and the section where it can be found in the ALA Policy Manual.

  8. If the resolution calls for specific action or program with a timetable, the timetable shall be clear and achievable.

  9. Resolved clauses at the end of a resolution gain in clarity, brevity and are easier to read by following the resolution methodology of Congress and other deliberative bodies. The suggested wording states the resolved phrase only once: “now, therefore, be it; Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:...” or Resolved, by the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members that… after which each separate resolved is stated directly in numbered order without repeating “…be it Resolved by....”.

  10. All “Resolved” clauses within a resolution should use the objective form of the verb (e.g., “Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members: (1) supports...; (2) provides...; and [last resolved] urges...."). Do NOT use the subjunctive form of the verb (e.g., “Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA) on behalf of its members: (1) support...; (2) provide..; and [last resolved]. urge....").

  11. If the resolution is addressed to or refers to a specific group or groups, it shall name in full the group or groups in both the ‘resolved’ and ‘whereas’ clauses followed by the acronym in parenthesis. Thereafter the acronym may be used.

  12. Whereas clauses may not contain active links or URLs to cited information such as articles or webpages. However, a numerical footnote designation may be included in a Whereas clause, and a corresponding References list may be added after the mover and seconder information toward the bottom of the document.


  1. All resolutions submitted by Council members must be sent to the ALA Resolutions Committee for review and must be accompanied by a completed ALA Resolution e-Form.

  2. All resolutions, except memorial resolutions, tributes, and testimonials, must be submitted by either a voting member of Council or an ALA Committee chair; memorial resolutions, tributes, and testimonials are exempted.

  3. All resolutions, including memorials, tributes, and testimonials, must show the initiating unit, mover, and seconder. Cell phone or local telephone numbers must be given for movers and seconders.

  4. A supplement explanation consisting of one or more expository paragraphs should accompany every resolution clearly stating how the resolution supports ALA’s Strategic Plan as well as its mission and/or its core values.

  5. Resolutions must be submitted 24 hours prior to presentation to Council to allow time for reproduction and distribution. If there are fewer than 24 hours between the adjournment of Council II and the convening hour of Council III, resolutions may be submitted within 90 minutes following adjournment of Council II.

    The Resolutions Committee must submit to the Executive Director and the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) all resolutions deemed to have fiscal implications at least 24 hours before they appear on the Council agendas so that BARC can provide fiscal information as required by ALA policy.

a. A resolution which the Resolutions Committee has deemed to have fiscal implications should be moved and

seconded by its proponents.

b. The proponents should open the debate on the resolution they have initiated.

c. Council members should then be invited to briefly debate the resolution.

d. After a brief debate, BARC Chair (or designate) should move to refer the resolution to BARC and should then

explain the potential fiscal implications.

e. Other members should then be invited to debate the motion to refer.

f. The motion to refer to BARC should then be put to a vote.

  1. Memorial resolutions, tributes, and testimonials are submitted to the Resolutions Committee but are not reviewed by the Committee. They will be presented to Council at the beginning of the last session of Council at each Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference, and to the Membership at the beginning of the last Membership Meeting at each Annual Conference:
  1. If copies are to be sent to other parties, the maker of the resolution shall provide names and addresses.
  2. The Presiding officer will read the names of persons/organizations recognized by a formal resolution; the names will be displayed on the screen and copies of each resolution will be available at the information table.
  3. American Libraries will carry an annual "memorial page" listing those members who have died since the preparation of the previous Conference Program.

  1. All members are urged to submit a resolution or resolutions prior to the Annual Conference or Midwinter Council meetings by communicating the resolution to the chair of Resolutions Committee through electronic mail.

  2. The Executive Director shall disseminate all adopted resolutions to identified and pertinent parties. Dissemination should occur as soon as possible, and not to exceed one month without explanation of the Executive Director to Council.

Revised: 1995 MW; 1999 AC; 2000 AC; 2003 AC; 2008 AC; 2011AC; 2013 MW


A.4.2.4 Reporting the Implementation of Council Actions and Resolutions (Old Number 5.4)

At the first Council meeting of each Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting, the ALA Executive Board or its delegate shall report to Council on the status of implementation of motions and resolutions passed by Council during the preceding year. The report shall be entered in the Council minutes.


A.4.2.5 Policies on Council Procedures (Old Number 5.5)


A. Attendance (Old Number 5.5.1)

At each Council meeting, attendance shall be taken through appropriate means, such as checklist, voting cards, etc.


A. Council/Executive Board/Membership Information Session (Old Number 5.5.2)

At each Midwinter Meeting, there shall be at least one session of Council with the Executive Board for information only, to be held prior to other meetings of Council. Any member of the Association may participate in the information session.


A. Advance Distribution of Council Agenda and Other Documents (Old Number 5.5.3)

The Executive Director, as Secretary of the Council, shall distribute the agenda for Council meetings, as well as such documentation as has been provided by members and units, to reach Council members not later than two weeks before such meetings.


A. Reports (Old Number 5.5.4)

Matters and reports of a purely informational nature will be distributed to Council in writing. Oral reports will be confined to matters requiring Council action or which are requested by the Council or by the Executive Board.


A. Reports of Divisions (Old Number 5.5.5)

Annual reports from ALA division presidents shall be submitted to Council in writing for inclusion in the record of Council meetings.


A. Reporting of Council Votes (Old Number 5.5.6)

Results of recorded votes of Council shall be published in a widely available official outlet of the Association. Results of roll call votes shall be published promptly and in detail.


A. Revisions to Council Minutes (Old Number 5.5.7)

Minutes of Council meetings shall be approved for distribution by the Executive Director and distributed to Council promptly. Council members shall be requested to submit additions or corrections promptly after receipt. Cosmetic and editorial corrections will be made as they are received. Substantive corrections received are placed on the agenda of Council’s next official meeting, at which formal approval of the minutes shall take place.


A.4.2.6 Policy Manual/Monitoring Committee (Old Number 5.6)

Policy adopted by ALA Council will be incorporated into a manual in simple, clear language, indexed for easy access, and made available in a format easily reproduced and updated. A Policy Monitoring Committee will have prepared additions or changes in the Manual following each Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting as may be required by motions and resolutions adopted by the Council following the guidelines (A.4.2.3), and will review these additions and changes prior to publication. In instances of long reports and resolutions, it is the responsibility of the issuing committee to include an abstract statement or the exact language for the Policy Manual. The Policy Monitoring Committee will report to Council on the accomplishment of Council directives. The committee will be responsible also for bringing to the attention of Council outdated items to be retired from the Manual, and gaps in the presentation of policies upon which Council may wish to act. The committee will review and advise on all unit organization policies to ensure that they are in compliance with Council-approved Association-wide policies.


A.4.3 Units, Committees, Etc. (Old Number 6 Heading)

A unit is any membership group within the American Library Association which has a distinct organizational entity. Committees and subcommittees which are appointive groups are excluded from this definition of unit.

The ALA is one association, legally responsible for the actions of all its subunits. Divisions, other membership units, and committees are bound by the Association’s Constitution, Bylaws, and Policies. The governing authorities (parent bodies) of Divisions, other membership units, and committees that create subunits or subcommittees are responsible for orientation/training and guidance to ensure that such subunits/subcommittees work within the framework provided by the Constitution, Bylaws, and Policies of the Association.

If Divisions, Round Tables, other ALA membership units, or committees are thought to have violated the ALA Constitution, Bylaws, or Policies, the Council is empowered to take actions to ensure compliance with established ALA policy. The Council, ALA Executive Board, or other designated body may investigate the actions of the unit or committee and recommend a course of action. Actions that may be taken include, but are not limited to, internal sanction, limiting communication and/or spending by the unit or committee, or disestablishment of the unit or committee.

If violations are found to be the result of an individual member presuming to act in the name of the Association without the approval of the parent body, the ALA Executive Board may, under the authority of the Constitution ( Article III, Section I), suspend that individual’s membership in the American Library Association. (OLD NUMBER 6.5 LANGUAGE)


A.4.3.1 Chapters (Old Number 6.1)


A. ALA Responsibilities to Chapters (Old Number 6.1.1)

A statement of summary of conditions governing Chapter affiliations as stated in various ALA policies and the Constitution and Bylaws shall be sent to each Chapter for its acceptance as a certified statement of agreement between the Chapter and ALA.


A. Effect of Unpaid Dues on Chapter Status (Old Number 6.1.2)

A Chapter which has not paid its dues as of March 1 of each year, and which continues such delinquency for one month after notice has been sent, is no longer a member and no longer entitled to have a Councilor, until such time as the Chapter resumes payment of dues.


A. Library Issue Caucuses (Old Number 6.1.3)

Chapter Councilors and Councilors-at-Large should work together to establish library issue caucuses at state and regional library association and type of library association meetings with the goal of identifying, developing information, and communicating recommendations on library issues to ALA Council and/or other appropriate bodies.


A.4.3.2 New Units of ALA (Old Number 6.2)


A. Petitions for Establishment of New Units of ALA (Old Number 6.2.1)

Petitions requesting the establishment of new divisions, round tables, and other units of ALA may be filed in electronic or paper format. Minimum acceptable standards for petitions requesting the establishment of new divisions, round tables, and other units of ALA are:

For electronic petitions the process found on the ALA website shall be used in the petition process. For petitions using paper format,

  1. The purpose of the petition shall be clearly stated on a single sheet attached to each group of signature pages.
  2. Each signature page shall contain this statement: "I favor this petition to..."
  3. Petitioners shall sign and give library affiliation legibly. Failure to do so may result in the invalidation of the petition.
  4. Information about this format and a sample petition will be supplied from ALA headquarters to anyone inquiring.
  5. Petitioners shall be personal members of ALA.


A.4.3.3 Round Tables of ALA: Role and Function (Old Number 6.3)

Round Tables are provided for in the ALA Bylaws, Article VII.

  1. Role of Round Tables in ALA.

    Round Tables may:
    1. conduct continuing educational activities;
    2. study and discuss topics of concern to the Round Table;
    3. work with other ALA units on joint projects;
    4. issue publications with the advice, assistance, and approval of the ALA Publishing Committee;
    5. conduct projects and programs in the areas of the Round Table’s purpose, and
    6. recommend activities and policies to units of the Association, including Council.

  1. Policy Functions.

    As noted in the ALA Constitution, Article VI, and the Bylaws, Article VII, three bodies – Council, the divisions, and the membership – have authority to determine and act for ALA in matters of policy. Recommendations from Round Tables regarding a lack of policy, a new policy, or changes in policy shall be forwarded to the appropriate body for action.

  1. Finances.

    Round Tables shall not incur expenses on behalf of the Association except as authorized. Funds of Round Tables are in the custody of the ALA Executive Board, to be accounted for and disbursed by its designated officer only upon authorization of the Round Table officers. Any formal solicitation of funds by any ALA unit from outside organizations, agencies, groups of individuals, or others must be authorized by the ALA Executive Board or Executive Director. Acceptance of unsolicited funds shall be authorized by the Executive Director to assure that the terms and conditions are consistent with ALA policies. Contracts, grant agreements, project proposals, and similar financial documents shall be signed by the ALA Executive Director for all ALA activities and units.

  1. ALA Services to Round Tables.

    ALA will supply to Round Tables such support services as:
    1. staff liaison and related staff services;
    2. maintenance of Round Table membership and subscription records;
    3. accounting services to include preparation of monthly budget reports and bill payment;
    4. preparing, distributing, and counting ballots for annual election of Round Table officers;
    5. services of the conference Arrangements Office, to include scheduling and announcement of Midwinter and Annual Conference meetings and other special events;
    6. cartage of materials to ALA meetings;
    7. services of the Public Information Office, including preparation and distribution of press releases;
    8. specialized reference services of the ALA Library;
    9. use of the ALA mailroom for routine and special mailings;
    10. storage of supplies, documents, and equipment at the ALA warehouse organization and storage of Round Table documents at ALA Library and archives.

  1. Round Table Services to ALA.

    The ALA Round Tables through their programs and services implement and enhance the overall ALA program, further the Association’s Goals and Priorities, and provide an added dimension to the ALA structure. All Round Tables are membership units which provide an additional avenue for membership discussion, opinion, and response. It is not currently possible for Round Tables to bear a charge which will cover the complete direct and indirect costs of services from ALA. ALA has adopted a schedule of charges based on a Round Table’s total dues income. The assessment of each Round Table shall be based on the best estimate of services performed recently by Headquarters staff.

    Round Tables shall deposit at least two copies of all periodicals and other Round Table publications in the ALA Library. Charges for data processing services, reproduction of materials, mailings, and similar support services will be charged to the Round Table at the same rate as to other units.

    Staff liaison services are made available to Round Tables to aid the officers and members in coordinating projects and programs with other units, in handling financial obligations and records, in orienting new Round Table officers and groups, in determining procedures to expedite or conduct Round Table projects and programs, in administrative or secretarial phases of Round Table activities, and in planning activities.

  2. Membership of Round Tables in ALA (NEW).

    The ALA affirms Round Tables are a vital part of the ALA structure and requires that Round Tables, maintain a minimum of 150 members. A Round Table unable to meet the minimum membership within one year may become an Interest Group, join with another round table or disband; adhere to a common template of core bylaws while maintaining the flexibility of their own operating principles; align with nominal, annual membership dues to be recommended by the Round Table Coordinating Assembly.

    (See "Policy Reference File": Report of the Forward Together Resolutions Working Group ALA CD#46.1, Monday June 18, 2021)


A.4.3.4 Divisions (Old Number 6.4)


A. Policies of the American Library Association in Relation to its Membership Divisions (Old Number 6.4.1)


A. Preamble

The American Library Association (ALA) is unique among American associations in the manner in which it is structured. It is one association, with indivisible assets and a single set of uniform administrative, financial, and personnel policies and procedures. It is governed by one Council, from which its Executive Board is elected, and is managed by an Executive Director who serves at the pleasure of that Board. It is also the home for eleven Divisions, each of which has:

  • a statement of responsibility developed by its members and approved by ALA Council;
  • a set of goals and objectives established by its members, which drive its activities;
  • an Executive Director and other personnel as necessary to carry out its programs;
  • responsibility for generating revenue to support staff and carry out its programs; and,
  • a separate Board of Directors, elected by its members, and responsible to ALA Council.

Divisions and all other units of ALA are inextricably interrelated in structure, personnel, resources, overall mission, and operations. All members of Divisions are first members of ALA. Their voluntary selection of Division membership is an indication of their special interests, in addition to their general concern for libraries and librarianship, and it demands the commitment of the Divisions to serve those special interests.

By this commitment, expressed in publications, conference programming, advisory services, and other educational activities germane to their mission statements, the Divisions serve the American Library Association as a whole. By supporting Division operations through the provision of space and services, ALA gives tangible evidence of its recognition of the importance of Divisions in meeting the needs of its members.

The nature of the relationships among the various ALA units is a dynamic one. Divisions and ALA are committed to maintaining a collaborative style of interaction and to remaining flexible enough to address the ever-changing issues facing libraries and librarians.

This collaborative model implies mutuality in all relationships, the ability of any aggregation of units to work together for the common good, and the coexistence of Division autonomy and ALA unity.

This policy document implies the need for a mutual understanding of the differences between Divisions and other ALA units, differences which are balanced by a similarity of interest and activity. It underscores the Divisions' willingness to support and contribute to ALA as a whole and their recognition of the interdependence of all ALA units.

These policies must be based on an appreciation by the total membership and by other ALA units of the Divisions' contributions to ALA as a whole. An activity carried out by a Division is an ALA activity. Division staff members are ALA staff members and represent ALA as well as their own Divisions in work with members and the general public. Division officers and members must recognize the value to the Division of the services provided by ALA, and ALA members and units must recognize the value to ALA as a whole of the services provided by Divisions.

Divisions are integrally involved in the decision-making process of the Association. They exercise their decision-making prerogatives through the following means:

  • Full authority within those areas of responsibility designated by ALA Council

    (ALA Bylaws, Article VI, Section 2b)
  • Representation on ALA Council to raise issues and to set policy

    (ALA Bylaws, Article IV. Section 2c; ALA Policy A.4.2.3)
  • Representation on the Planning and Budget Assembly

    (ALA Bylaws, Article VIII, Section 2)
  • Negotiation of performance objectives of Division Executive Directors with the Associate Executive Director, Member Programs and Services

    (ALA Bylaws, Article VI; ALA Policy A.
  • Day-to-day involvement of Division staff in the operations and deliberations of the Association Representation on Association-wide bodies including the Legislative Assembly, the Library Education Assembly, and the Membership Promotion Task Force
  • Participation in the planning process.

In sum, this document is designed to continue a cooperative framework in which the inevitable questions of organizational relationships can be addressed and resolved.


A. Current Organizational Values of ALA

This statement reflects the current organizational values of the American Library Association and was developed through reference to existing ALA documents.

A. Unity

ALA is one association. It has a single set of administrative, financial, and personnel policies and procedures, as well as indivisible assets. All members of Divisions are members of ALA. Divisions and all other ALA units are inextricably interrelated in structure, personnel, resources, overall mission, and operations.

B. Diversity

ALA has a stake in the work of each of its Divisions. Division activities and services are of value and importance to the Association. They provide for a rich and diverse program that gives opportunities to all segments of the profession for involvement, leadership, and participation in activities that carry out the mission, goals, and priorities of the Association.

C. Authority

Recognizing the significant contribution, resources, and expertise of its Divisions, ALA delegates the authority and responsibility to represent the Association in designated areas to each Division. Each Division provides unique programs and services to its members, to all members of the Association, to the profession of librarianship, to the broader educational community, and to the public at large.

D. Autonomy

ALA provides leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library service. ALA values the strength and effectiveness of its Divisions. Divisions are best able to carry out their missions when their members have the autonomy, independence, and freedom to pursue goals and objectives of particular concern to them, as well as to participate democratically in the Division's direction, governance, and financial decisions.

E. Collaboration/Cooperation

ALA and its Divisions have opportunities through the Association's unique governance and administrative structure to stimulate and build on one another's strengths and resources to advance shared, as well as diverse, goals.


A. Purpose, Scope, Implementation, Review Process, and Definitions

A. Purpose and Scope

Divisions have a substantial degree of autonomy and responsibility; however, the corporate and legal entity is the American Library Association. Any responsibilities not specifically delegated to Divisions remain within the authority of the Executive Board and ALA Council. The principal intent of this document is to define the policies governing the relationship between ALA and its membership Divisions.

In addition to the ALA Constitution and Bylaws and other ALA Policies, this document provides a framework of guiding principles for that relationship. As a policy document, its adoption and approval of revisions are the responsibility of the ALA Council. ALA has other policies and procedures that govern the relationships with other organizational units.

B. Implementation

Implementation of these policies will be carried out under the direction of the ALA Executive Director, working with the department heads and Division executive directors. Major operational decisions made in that implementation will be codified in documents referred to as "Operational Practices."

C. Review Process

To make this Agreement responsive to the needs of the Association, it shall be reviewed on an annual basis by those responsible for the governance of ALA and its membership Divisions. Changes may be recommended by Division leadership, ALA staff and management, or other interested parties at any time; however, BARC shall initiate the review process annually according to the following schedule:

  • Fall BARC Meeting-At this meeting, BARC develops agenda of major emerging issues and requests input from Divisions. The annual indirect cost study shall be available.
  • Midwinter-Divisions discuss any operating agreement issues identified by BARC and raise other operating agreement issues to be discussed by BARC at its Spring meeting. The Planning and Budget Assembly (PBA) may be used as a forum for PBA participants to identify operating agreement issues of concern.
  • Spring BARC Meeting-Mandated discussion of operating agreement issues raised by Divisions, ALA staff and management, and/or other interested parties. BARC recommends mechanism and time table for cooperative actions with Divisions to address proposed changes.
  • Annual-Operating agreement is a mandated item on PBA agenda. Division Boards review any BARC recommendations and respond to BARC. BARC forwards any necessary recommendations to Executive Board for action by Council. Any changes undertaken in this Operating Agreement shall be implemented consistent with the budget cycle of ALA and its Divisions and shall be done in such a manner as to minimize negative impact on the program of ALA and of the Divisions.

Roles of Key Parties to operating agreement

  • Division Boards: identify problem areas and issues; initiate actions necessary for revisions; work with Division staff and other Divisions as appropriate to explore problems and solutions; make recommendations to BARC to initiate revisions.
  • BARC: identify problem areas and issues; communicate information concerning the operating agreement through PBA to Council and to ALA at large; work with Division leaders and ALA management to recommend solutions and consequent revisions to operating agreement.
  • ALA Management: identify problem areas and issues and work with the Division Executive Directors to explore problems and solutions. Review policies and make recommendations as appropriate to BARC and Executive Board. Division
  • Executive Directors: identify problem areas and issues and review as appropriate with management and Division Boards.

D. Definitions

The following definitions are guidelines for members and staff in the development, review, and implementation of these policies:

  • Policies: Guiding principles that provide the framework for the relationship between ALA and its membership Divisions. Policies reflect the views and thinking of membership, and provide a guide to action to achieve the goals of the American Library Association. Policies are adopted by the Council of the American Library Association.
  • Operational Practices: Definitions of the manner or method of implementing policies. Operational Practices (I) deal with terms under which services will be provided free of charge or at a cost; (2) define roles and responsibilities in policy implementation; and (3) reflect other issues contained in the ''Policies'' document that may require negotiation between departments and membership Divisions.

Operational Practices are developed by the ALA Executive Director with the ALA Department Heads in consultation with the Division executive directors and appropriate personnel in the department responsible for the activity described. Department personnel will provide draft copies of those procedures for review and comment to appropriate ALA staff members whose work will be affected by those procedures. Copies of Operational Practices are supplied to appropriate membership units responsible for the governance of ALA and its membership Divisions.

Detailed information about implementation of the policies outlined throughout this document is found in the Operational Practices for the Implementation of Policies of the American Library Association in Relation to Its Membership Divisions.

  • ALA Basic Services: Those services made available to all ALA members at no additional charge beyond their ALA dues. Dues provide the primary support for basic services. Basic services may be supported by dues or other options as approved by the Executive Board. Basic ALA services include: American Libraries, information/advisory services, support for governance/member groups, public/professional relations, administration of awards and scholarships, membership promotion/retention, executive/ administrative/financial services; offices: research, personnel resources, outreach services, government relations, intellectual freedom, accreditation; Library.
  • Division Basic Services: Those services made available to all Division members at no additional charge beyond their Division dues. Dues provide the primary support for basic services. Basic services may be supported by dues or other options as determined by Division Boards. Basic Division services include: periodical publications designated as perquisites of membership, information/advisory services, support for governance/member groups, public/professional relations, administration of awards and scholarships, membership promotion/retention, executive/administrative/financial services.
  • Overhead
  1. Internal: that overhead rate applied to units of ALA, e.g., the annual overhead rate paid by divisions for revenue-generating activities identified in this policy document.
  2. External: that overhead rate applied for the purposes of external reporting, e.g., grants and taxes.
  • Fund Balance: Accumulated net revenue


A. Use of ALA Services

All ALA Divisions must use exclusively the following services provided by ALA: Human Resources, Membership Services, telephone, insurance, purchasing, Fiscal Services Department, Legal Counsel, and Archives. ALA Divisions must be housed in properties owned or leased by the Association.


A. Financial

Divisions are governed by prevailing ALA fiscal policies and procedures. Divisions shall participate in formulating and revising these policies and procedures.

A. Dues

Divisions have the right to establish their own personal and organizational dues structures and set membership perquisites.

(ALA Bylaws, Article I. Section2; Article VI. Section 6)

Discount and special promotion dues authorized by the ALA Executive Board apply only to that portion of dues applying to ALA membership. Divisions receive proportionate reimbursements for ''free'' Division choices of continuing and life members. (ALA Bylaws, Article I, Section 2.A.7)

B. Council Actions with Fiscal Implications

Council resolutions that would impose specific assignments on a Division shall be reviewed by BARC with the Division Board of Directors to assess any financial implications of that assignment. BARC shall report back to Council with recommendations as to any budgetary adjustments necessary to implement such assignments prior to final Council action on that item. (ALA Policy A.4.2.2)

C. Services and Charges

The fiscal arrangements between ALA and its membership Divisions in regard to charges for services can be categorized in five ways. The five categories are defined below. Specific examples of the services in each category are given.

  1. ALA provides to Divisions at no direct charge the following services of ALA Departments and Offices:

a. Staff Support Services Department

  • Office space and related services
  • Telephone services: switchboard, 800 number, and internal service, as defined in an Operational Practice
  • Distribution services
  • Basic furniture and equipment (as defined in an Operational Practice) for each regular Division staff member
  • Equipment maintenance on equipment supplied by ALA
  • Personnel services
  • Purchasing
  • Data processing (as defined in An Operational Practice)
  • Storage and warehouse space

b. Member Programs and Services and Communications Departments

  • Conference Arrangements, including:
    • Staff travel costs and per diem for Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences
    • Equipment (e.g., AV and computers including the cost of labor), supplies, services, and space for programs, meetings and offices at the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference (as defined in an Operational Practice)
    • Exhibit space at Annual Conference
  • Membership services
  • Public information services, including the preparation and distribution of news releases

c. Fiscal Services Departments

  • Accounting
  • Financial systems
  • Planning and budgeting
  • Business expense (insurance, legal, audit)
  • Credit and collections.

d. Publishing Department

  • Copyright service
  • Rights and permissions

e. Executive Office

f. Washington Office

g. Office for Intellectual Freedom

h. Office for Literacy and Outreach Services

i. Office for Library Personnel Resources

j. Office for Research

k. Library and Research Center

  1. ALA charges Divisions for the actual costs of the following services of ALA departments:

a. Staff Support Services

  • Specialized data processing, as defined in an Operational Practice
  • Equipment maintenance for equipment purchased by the Division over which the Division exercises sole use and control
  • Printing and duplication, as defined in an Operational Practice
  • Telephone services not specific in ALA Policy A., Section C.1.A., as defined in an Operational Practice
  • Postage for special mailings, as defined in an Operational Agreement

b. Fiscal Services

  • Overhead on non-dues revenue-generating activities. The rate will be set annually according to an ALA Operational Practice and will be assessed as explained below on non­dues revenue at a composite rate.
  • Overhead will be assessed at 100% of the ALA composite rate (at the end of a four-year phase-in period, beginning in 1991 and ending in 1994) on revenue from:
  • registration fees
  • exhibit space rental
  • meal functions, except for separately-ticketed events

(The schedule for phase-in of the ALA composite overhead rate on revenues is:

  • 50% of the ALA composite rate in 1991 and 1992
  • 75% of the ALA composite rate in 1993
  • 100% of the ALA composite rate in 1994).
  • Overhead will be assessed at 50% of the ALA composite rate (at the end of a five-year phase-in period, beginning in 1991 and ending in 1995, in equal annual increments) on revenues from:
  • net sales of materials
  • subscriptions
  • advertising except in those publications which are provided to Division members as a perquisite of membership
  • other miscellaneous fees.
  • Overhead will not be assessed on revenues from:
  • dues
  • donations
  • interest income
  • ALA royalties to Divisions
  • travel expense reimbursements from outside organizations
  • separately-ticketed events at conferences (e.g., tours and meal functions)
  • advertising in those publications which are provided to Division members as a perquisite of membership

c. Publishing

  • Subscription and order billing services
  • Central production services marketing services

  1. ALA and the Divisions share the costs of the following:
  • Division Leadership Enhancement Program
  • Awards promotion
  1. Divisions assume total responsibility for the following costs:
  • Division personnel compensation
  • Projects and activities of the Divisions except as specified in this agreement
  • Membership group support (governance- boards, committees, etc.)
  • Furnishings and equipment purchased by Divisions and over which they have sole control and use. Seealso Section IX, Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting.
  1. Divisions may:
  • Purchase services or products from other ALA units and outside agencies, consistent with ALA policy.

D. Fund Balances

  1. ALA Divisions build and maintain fund balances appropriate to their needs. A fund balance is defined as accumulated net revenue.
  2. Divisions will not receive interest on fund balances or deferred revenue.

E. Endowments

Divisions may establish endowments or add to existing Division endowments from any source including existing fund balances once the Division has reached a minimum fund balance as determined by the Division and approved in accordance with the budget review process and approved financial plan. The establishment of Division endowments will follow the guidelines outlined in ALA policy. The use of the interest from these Division endowments will be subject to Division Board approval and applicable ALA policy.

F. Furniture and Equipment

ALA will provide basic furniture and equipment to each regular Division staff member.

Divisions will retain sole control and use of all furniture and equipment purchased with Division funds.

Divisions may acquire additional furniture and equipment in two ways:

  1. Above the capitalization limit:
  1. Divisions have authority to purchase capital equipment outright by paying the full price to ALA, with ALA taking the depreciation.
  2. Divisions can purchase furniture and equipment through ALA budget request process by paying the scheduled depreciation, subject to ALA priorities and approvals.
  1. Below the capitalization level, Divisions have the authority to purchase equipment outright.

G. Division Budget Review

Division Boards have responsibility for developing and approving budgets and multi-year program and financial plans, which are then reviewed by ALA management and BARC. Annual budgets are approved by the ALA Executive Board. Divisions also have the responsibility to alert the Association to any planned activities that could have a potential negative impact upon the fiscal stability of the Association.

H. Divisions with Small Revenue Bases/Number of Members

ALA Council has assigned specific responsibilities to Divisions. To carry out these responsibilities, each Division requires a base of operating revenue. ALA recognizes that each Division must have staff and must provide basic services to its members as defined in Section III. When a Division's current revenue from dues and other sources excluded from overhead is not sufficient, ALA recognizes its obligation to provide supplemental financial support up to a maximum of 500/o of the funding required. This support would be provided only as a result of a well-planned process that is an integral part of the annual budget process that includes review by BARC and approval by the Executive Board. This type of support would not be available to a Division, which, at the end of a fiscal year happened to find itself in a deficit position. Annually BARC and the Executive Board will determine and approve the specific amount of funding required to provide a minimum level of staff and basic services, compare this amount to the Division's estimated revenue, and allocate an appropriate General Fund supplement.

Divisions must generate from dues and other revenue excluded from overhead at least 50% of the funding required to provide basic services. If a Division is unable to meet this 50% level for two consecutive years, its status as a Division must be referred to Council by the Executive Board, with an appropriate recommendation. Money from the General Fund will not be used to offset expenses for non-dues revenue-generating products and services. Divisions may retain the net revenue from these activities to initiate and support other similar activities in the future.

I. Association Finances

The Divisions will be kept informed about the Association's financial health and will be involved in meaningful consultation when there is potential impact on Divisions, collectively or individually.

J. Other

1. Credit and Collections

Management will provide effective credit and collection policies and services to the Divisions. Divisions will be charged for their bad debts in accordance with ALA policy.

2. Unrelated Business Income Taxes (UBIT)

To the extent that Divisions incur unrelated business income, they will assume responsibility for paying the resulting taxes.


A. Publishing Activities

The ALA Publishing Committee has the responsibility for control of the ALA imprint.

A Division may publish materials in three ways: through ALA Publishing Services, on its own, or through an outside publisher. Materials prepared by a Division for other than its own publication must be offered to ALA Publishing Services for first consideration. A Division has the right to accept or reject ALA's offer and pursue other publishing opportunities.

Divisions exercise editorial and managerial control over their periodicals.

The ALA Publishing Committee shall be informed of plans for any new Division periodicals prior to publication.

A Division may purchase production and distribution services from ALA's central production unit. A Division may also purchase marketing services from the Publishing Services Department.

ALA Publishing Services pays royalties to Divisions for Division-generated materials. Divisions may negotiate with ALA Publishing Services on royalties and other variables of publishing. An ''Intra-mural Agreement of Publishing Responsibility'' is signed by the Division Executive Director and the Director of Publishing Services for each publishing project.

ALA has the sole right to record and market tapes of programs at ALA conferences with the advance consent of the units and speakers. Divisions receive royalties from the sale of tapes of a Division's conference programs. Divisions have the right to record and market tapes of Division pre-conferences, programs at ALA Annual Conferences that ALA chooses not to record, Division national conferences and regional institutes.


A. Personnel

All ALA personnel are responsible to the ALA Executive Director and through the Executive Director to the entire membership. Unlike other ALA personnel, Division Executive Directors are also responsible to Division Boards and through those Boards to the memberships of their respective Divisions.

All ALA employees are subject to ALA's personnel policies. Each Division shall be responsible for generating the income required for the salaries, wages, and benefits of Division employees.

Each Division Executive Director serves as an ALA Program Director, a senior professional position, and is responsible for advising on ALA plans and preparing recommendations on priorities and alternatives, especially as they relate to the Division's priorities, goals, and objectives. The Division Executive Director meets regularly with other ALA staff members and communicates, cooperates, and coordinates Division activities with those of other ALA units.

The assignment of the appropriate grade for Division staff is made according to ALA personnel policies. The determination of the appropriate staffing pattern (number and position descriptions) shall be made by the Division Executive Director and the Division Board in consultation with the ALA Executive Director.

The recruitment, appointment, and termination of Division Executive Directors shall be a process involving consultation by the ALA Executive Director with the Division Board of Directors or its designates.

Each Division's Board of Directors shall annually review the performance of the Division's Executive Director based upon a single set of goals and objectives as agreed upon by the Division Board, Associate Executive Director, Member Programs and Services, and Division Executive Director. The Division Board shall convey its recommendation to the Associate Executive Director, Member Programs and Services, to whom the ALA Executive Director has delegated the responsibility for evaluating the performance of Division Executive Directors. The Associate Executive Director, Member Programs and Services, shall discuss the confidential report of the performance review with the Division's President upon request.

Division Executive Directors shall have the authority to select, evaluate, and recommend termination of all Division employees, consistent with ALA personnel policies and procedures. Assignments of Division staff to ALA internal committees are arrived at in the context of Division priorities and are kept at a reasonable level.


A. Division National Conferences, Pre-conferences, and Related Activities

Divisions may conduct pre-conferences, workshops, institutes, seminars, and Division national conferences, in accordance with ALA Policy, at intervals determined by Division program priorities and supported by sound financial management. A Division is responsible for all costs incurred in planning and carrying out such activities. (ALA Policy A.7.2.2)

Division National Conferences shall be defined as "non-business conferences removed in time and place from the American Library Association's Annual Conference" and Midwinter Meeting in order "to view and explore areas of divisional concerns in depth."

Proposals for Division National Conferences should be made to the ALA Executive Board at least two years in advance of the anticipated meeting date following a prescribed proposal outline. ALA state and regional chapters in the geographical area of a proposed conference shall be notified in writing of a desired conference prior to submitting the request to the Executive Board. Such notice shall seek the cooperation of the chapters with respect to scheduling and programming to the extent feasible. The Division shall contact the host Chapter prior to determining date availability with the host city. The Division shall contact the chapters in the geographical area immediately after determining date availability with the host city. In the event of a conflict with the ALA state or regional chapters and the proposed divisional conference, the ALA Executive Board shall make the decision in consultation with the chapters.


A. Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting

ALA provides the support necessary for Divisions to conduct business and plan and present Conference programs. Some Conference program costs may be borne by the Division except financial support for staffing and equipment as described in ALA Policy A., Section C.1.b. Recognizing that conference programming benefits all attendees, financial support in the form of General and Special Allocations from ALA to Divisions and other units for Annual Conference programming shall be provided; this support will be arrived at as the result of an explicit and equitable process in which the Divisions participate. Meal functions and special events must be self-supporting.


A. Special Projects of Divisions

Divisions may seek external (non-ALA) funding to pursue projects to enhance Division program priorities. Division Boards of Directors have the responsibility for assessing programmatic impact and must approve all requests for funding external projects. Additionally, all proposals and contracts for such funds are signed by the Executive Director of ALA in the name of the Association. All special projects are reviewed, approved, and conducted in accordance with established ALA policies and procedures and the conditions of the grant or contract. All costs for projects funded through grants or contracts from outside agencies or organizations should be covered by project funding.


A. Planning

Each Division has autonomy in its own planning processes within its area of responsibility as designated by ALA Council, subject to present and future ALA policies. They have the responsibility to develop and implement a planning process to guide their program and allocate their resources within the areas of responsibility assigned to them by the ALA Council. Since Divisions contribute to the formulation of ALA goals, it may be expected that many of the priorities and activities reflected in the plans will also be a part of Division priorities and activities. Further, each Division has responsibility for providing ALA with a multi-year financial plan consistent with ALA's existing financial policies and resting on multi-year program plans reflecting the priorities of the Division's members. Divisions have a responsibility to assist and inform the ALA Executive Board of their strategic plans on a regular basis, and to inform the ALA Executive Board of their work through timely and comprehensive reporting.


A.4.3.5 Units (Old Number 6.5)


A. Adoption of Standards of ALA Divisions (Old Number 55.1)

The authority of divisions to develop standards is described in the Bylaws, Article VI, Section 3(d).


A. Adoption of Standards of ALA Units (Old Number 55.2)

Standards adopted by ALA units other than divisions and the Committee on Accreditation become ALA Policy only when adopted by Council.


A. Adoption of Guidelines (Old Number 55.3)

All ALA units may develop and adopt guidelines in their area of responsibility or interest.


A.4.3.6 Committees (Old Number 6.6)

Round Tables are provided for in the ALA Bylaws, Article VIII.


A. Types of Committees (Old Number 6.6.1)

  1. Standing. A standing committee is a committee with long-term objectives so closely interwoven with the total program and development of policy of the Association or its subdivisions that it should have a continuing life.

  1. Special. A special committee is a committee established to study various aspects of policy, planning, and administration. It should have a specific assignment and make recommendations based on that assignment. Its life should depend on the need for continued study in its area of assignment, but in accordance with the Bylaws it is normally limited to a two-year existence.

  1. Ad Hoc. An ad hoc committee is a committee appointed to pursue a designated project to a specific goal within a specific time period. The life of the committee ends at the end of that specific time or at the conclusion of the project.


A. Kinds of Committees (Old Number 6.6.2)

The following kinds of committees will be one of the three types defined above: standing, special, or ad hoc, depending on the life and objectives of the committee established

  1. Advisory. An advisory committee evaluates programs, policies, or projects and recommends courses of action. It may function either within the structure of ALA or with an outside organization.

  1. Coordinating. A coordinating committee receives information from two or more sub-units and supervises the integration of the work of those units.

  1. Interdivisional. An interdivisional committee, composed of members from two or more divisions of the Association, promotes projects or programs in which there is over lapping interest.

  1. Joint. A joint committee develops and carries out programs of mutual interest, exchanges information, or discusses matters of mutual concern with an organization or organizations outside ALA.


A. Leadership Development Program for ALA Committees (Old Number 6.6.3)

The Leadership Development Program provides an avenue for interested members who have never held an ALA committee appointment to become involved in ALA committee work by serving as an intern. Interns are appointed for a period of two years by the ALA President-Elect. All ALA committees may have interns.


A.4.3.7 Subcommittees (Old Number 6.7)

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 decision of the parent committee.


A.4.3.8 Commissions (Old Number 6.8)

A commission is a body of persons from ALA members and recognized authorities in other fields who are appointed by the ALA president or president-elect and approved by the Executive Board for the purpose of considering, investigating, or recommending action on certain matters or subjects as assigned. A commission may be created only after existing ALA structures such as special or joint committees are considered, and only when the subject requires such a broad based body. A commission has a limited term of existence, reports regularly to the president and to the Executive Board, and is advisory to the Association. Commission report(s) may be published by ALA but will not be considered ALA policy until officially adopted by Council.


A.4.3.9 Task Forces (Old Number 6.9)

A task force is an action-oriented membership group whose charge is to address specific goals, complete a specific task, or to consider a particular issue. There may be a designated time frame defined by the nature of the task or set forth in the function statement. Functions of a task force may include the following: (1) gathering information and making recommendations; (2) studying an issue and preparing a report; (3) carrying out a specific project or activity; (4) conducting programs at conferences; (5) establishing committees or other subunits. A task force is used to address critical, urgent, or ongoing situations which require a strong, visible organizational effort and/or activist response. Any parent body may establish a task force, determine its duration, monitor its progress, and terminate its function.


A.4.3.10 Discussion Groups (Old Number 6.10)

A discussion group is an informal group that allows discussion of topics of common interest during the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting. Results of discussion may be prepared by the group for distribution to the relevant parent body. A leader may be chosen by the group to coordinate discussion.


A.4.3.11 Assemblies (Old Number 6.11)

An assembly is a body of individuals or representatives from ALA units and committees that shares information or acts as a resource to an ALA Committee. There are different types of assemblies: Assemblies to Council Committees, that act in an advisory capacity, reviewing documents and issues, representing unit and committee interests and reporting back to units and committees; and Assemblies to Standing Committees, that provide a forum for sharing information, coordinate activities and promote awareness.


A.4.3.12 Membership Initiative Groups (MIG) (Old Number 6.12)

A Membership Initiative Groups (MIG) is formed when a group of ALA members identifies a common concern or interest about librarianship which falls outside the delegated responsibility of a single division, roundtable, or unit, and wishes to establish a short-term mechanism to address this concern or interest. To establish a MIG, which must be approved by COO and reported to Council, a group must submit to the Committee on Organization a statement of purpose, at least one hundred signatures of ALA members in good standing, and the names and addresses of designated organizers. Once established, a MIG may operate for three years at which point it may re-petition for another three- year term or may request another place within the ALA structure by following the procedures for establishing that type of group, or may request the ALA COO to disband it. The re-petitioning process can be renewed every three years. If the re-petition process is not carried out when due, the MIG will be disbanded.

See “Policy Reference File” for information on MIGS - PDF, 11 pgs


A.4.3.13 Interest Groups (Old Number 6.13)

An interest group is a sub-body established to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences that may sponsor formal conference programs, institutes, and seminars, or prepare publications.


A.4.3.14 Sections (Old Number 6.14)

A section is a formal membership unit within a division that focuses on areas of specific concern. Sections may provide education, advise the parent body regarding service guidelines and enhancements, promote awareness, and prepare publications.


A.4.3.15 Forums (Old Number 6.15)

A forum is a formal sub-body of a section that allows for discussion, promotion, and improvement of library services for special population groups.


A.4.3.16 Open Activities (Old Number 6.17)

All activities of the committees, boards, etc. of the American Library Association and its units should be conducted as openly as is feasible. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the American Library Association that all governance related activities, sponsored by the ALA or one of its units, taking place outside of official meetings should be accessible to the membership of the sponsoring body.


A. Minutes of Meetings of Governing Units

The governing bodies of ALA Divisions and Round Tables shall make available drafts of their meeting minutes or other reports of actions taken, via the unit’s ALA-hosted web page within 30 days of the meeting. The final versions of meeting minutes or other reports of actions taken shall be made available via the unit’s ALA-hosted web page within 30 days of their approval. There shall be an easily available historical record of these meetings and action reports. Sub-units of the Divisions and sub-units of Round Tables shall be exempt from this policy.

Adopted 2014. See Policy Reference File: Resolution to Improve Member Access to ALA Unit Governing Information (ALA CD#35, Revised, 1/26/14) - PDF, 3 pages


A.4.3.17 Offices (Old Number 6.20)

An ALA office addresses broad interests and issues of concern to the profession and the Association. Offices are diverse in their purposes but generally focus on issues that span most or all types of libraries, types of interests and constituencies within the Association and the profession. Offices may act in an advisory or consultative capacity to ALA members, by providing information, support, and advice. Offices do not have members, collect dues or elect officers. Offices may have an associated advisory or standing committee and subcommittees through which members may participate and through which publications, programs, and other activities may be offered.


A.4.3.18 Subdivision

A subdivision is an ALA division or round table.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Committee on Organization Report, ALA CD#27.1, Item#1- Definition of Subdivision. Adopted June 28, 2016)


A.4.4.8 Code of Conduct Committee (NEW)

To administer and apply the ALA Online Code of Conduct. This committee will provide transparent, consistent, and context-sensitive accountability to ensure mutual respect and community safety. It will take timely action in addressing and resolving any incidents on those platforms and channels. It will ensure that the Code of Conduct is updated according to the schedule in the Code, with opportuity for community input. It will publish an annual transparency report and communicate that report, along with any updates to the Code, to users of all ALA-affiliated platforms and channels. Finally, it will partner with ALA leadership and legal counsel to develop and maintain a strong and transparent procedures for handling incidents.

  • Committee Membership

    a. It is proposed that there be seven (7) members of the committee and all members will serve two-year terms.

  • Officer Structure

    a. Co-chairs (appointed annually by the ALA President-Elect)

    b. It is proposed that the committee operate with co-chairs, to ensure that it is able to quickly and successfully address time-sensitive incidents