ALA launches voluntary member demographic survey

Contact: Mark Gould
Director, Public Information Office
For Immediate Release
May 6, 2005

ALA launches voluntary member demographic survey

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) has started collecting member demographic information in a voluntary online survey. ALA will use the information to plan improved programs and services, present ALA statistics to policymakers and potential funding groups, and respond to questions from the press and members themselves. The survey is located at

Why does ALA need better demographic information? According to Denise Davis, director, ALA Office of Research and Statistics, “Questions may come from ALA units within the membership who are planning an activity or developing a policy. It also may come from outside organizations that want to understand our association. In all cases, the interest is not in individual members, but in ALA as a whole. Some of the questions to which we will respond: What percent of our members are male versus female? What percent are under 30? What percent are of a specific ethnic group? How many of our members have disabilities?”

The key to success in the effort is, of course, member response. Strong membership response will result in ALA having improved demographic knowledge. As ALA moves ahead and gathers information, it will update members on the findings, according to Davis.

Participation in the survey is voluntary. Any information a member chooses to provide only will be used to provide or improve services. ALA guards member privacy and appreciates members' trust. More information on ALA's privacy policy can be found on our Website at by clicking on the words “privacy policy” at the bottom of the first page.

For further information on the background of ALA's demographics survey, see the article “Association, Know Thyself,” American Libraries , December 2003, or online at: .

Members of the task force were: Vivian Pisano (chair), former Diversity Council chair and chief of automation and technical services, San Francisco Public Library; Mary Jo Lynch, former director of ALA's Office for Research and Statistics; Lorna Peterson, associate professor, University at Buffalo; Tess Tobin, member ALA Committee on Diversity and administrative services librarian, New York City College of Technology; and Satia Marshall Orange, director of ALA's Office for Literacy and Outreach Services.