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Welcome First Time Attendees 

This page will attempt to answer the questions we frequently hear from new member of ALA, and first-time attendees at the Annual Conferences.

What is the structure of ALA?

Details about ALA's structure, units and other groups, and what they all mean.


ALA has eleven membership divisions, each with a type-of-library or type-of-library-function specialization. Each division has a statement of responsibility developed by its members and approved by the ALA Council, a set of goals and objectives to drive its activities.


ALA Offices are units of the Association that address broad interests and issues of concern to ALA members. Offices do not have direct members but are advised by ALA member advisory committees.


Round Tables are membership groups covering the same field of librarianship not within the scope of any division.


ALA has standing, special, interdivisional, joint and ad hoc committees. Standing committees are designated as committees of the Association or committees of Council. Each division and round table also may create committees and other working groups to carry out the work of the division or round table. Appointments to committees of the Association are made by the ALA president-elect, who chairs and acts on the advice of the Committee on Appointments.

How do I become more involved with ALA?

Any member of ALA may also join any division or roundtable. To do so, visit the division's or roundtable's website to learn more about the group and to join. ALA Divisions will be hosting "101" sessions at the Annual Conference to explain what the division does, and how new members can become more involved.

ALA business is performed through committees. Members can join ALA and ALA office advisory committees. The eleven ALA divisions each also have committees to conduct business and plan programs. If you are interested in becoming more involved in a division, please attend the division's "101" meeting at the Annual Conference. Representatives from the division will be there to answer your questions. Roundtables also have committees to conduct business and plan programs. Visit the website of the roundtable of interest to you to learn more.

What Should I Do At The Annual Conference?

Recommendations by Job Type

Not sure what is happening or what to do at the Annual Conference? The following lists might help you to make the most of your time at the Conference.

(Is there a job type missing from the list below? Email to make a suggestion)

ALA Ambassadors Help Make the Connection

ALA wants your first Annual Conference to be extraordinary, so when you register, be sure to check: I am a first time registrant of the ALA Annual Conference
You will automatically be signed-up to receive a personal welcome from an ALA Ambassador – an ALA member who is a long-time conference goer. ALA Ambassadors help you make connections to programs, people and places before conference so that your time there can be well spent. Ask the questions YOU need answered before you go. And at conference, ALA Ambassadors can be identified their Name Tags – stop anyone anytime in the halls to ask.

The Annual Conference Wiki also includes an excellent "Suggestions for New-Bees" page from an Ambassador.

Conference 101 - Orient Yourself

ALA Divisions and Round Tables will be sponsoring Conference 101 programs throughout the weekend. These 101 programs will help you plan how to ‘do’ conference based on the kind of work you do, or the type of library where you work. Get expert advice on programs to attend, exhibitors to visit, parties to frequent, and ways to get the most out of conference. These events are listed below.

Plan to Attend At Least One of these Informative Programs, Especially if you are a First Time Attendee

The 101 Programs provide a unique introduction to many of the ALA divisions, and provide an orientation to navigating the Annual Conference.

Conference 101
Friday, 4;00-5:00 pm
New Member Roundtable-sponsored orientation to ALA and the Annual Conference.

NMRT Conference 101 Orientation
Saturday, 8:00-10:00 am
New Member Roundtable-sponsored orientation t ALA and the Annual Conference.

AASL 101
Saturday, 2-2:45 pm
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

ACRL 101
Saturday, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Sunday, 10:30 - 12:00 pm
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

Friday, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Association For Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS)

ALSC 101: Making Connections
Saturday, 8:00-10:00 am
Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC)

ASCLA and RUSA 101: Introduction to our Divisions
Friday, 4:00-5:00 pm
Saturday, 8:00-9:00 am
Association of Specialized and Cooperative Libraries Agencies (ASCLA) and Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)

LAMA 101
Date and Time TBA
Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA)

LITA 101: LITA Open House
Saturday, 4:00 - 5:30 pm
Library and Information Technology Association (LITA)

PLA 101: ALA Annual Conference for First Time Attendees
Saturday, 8:00-10:00 am
Public Library Association (PLA)

Friday, 4:00-5:00 pm
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

IRRT/International Librarians Orientation
Friday, 4:30-6:00 pm
Conference navigation orientation for international librarians.

NMRT Meet and Greet
Friday, 7:30-8:30 pm
New Member Roundtable Meet and Greet

NMRT Student Reception
Sunday, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

3M/NMRT Social
Sunday, 7:30 - 11:30 pm

Visit the ALA Membership Pavilion at booth 2525 in the exhibits, to meet other new members and ALA staff, and to have your questions answered.

Special Events and Programs

First-time attendees will receive special invitations to receptions sponsored by exhibitors and library vendors. Programs especially for new attendees will be highlighted in the program guide. And you can always talk to someone who cares about your experience at the First-Time Attendee information booth in registration.

ALA Annual Conference is the best place to advance your career, connect with colleagues and to learn new techniques that improve library services to your community.

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