ALA goes paperless for Spring 2009 election

Contact: Steve Zalusky

Manager, Communications

ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-1546


For Immediate Release

October 8, 2008

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) will hold its first completely online election in the spring.

In deciding to discontinue paper ballots, the ALA recognized the success of the electronic balloting initiative it started five years ago. The number of online voters has steadily grown, with the vast majority of members now voting online, said ALA President Jim Rettig. Since its introduction, online balloting has also spurred member participation in the election process.

Under the new election procedure, members who have not provided ALA with e-mail addresses by March 1, 2009, will receive a paper mailing containing information and instructions on how to vote online. They will also receive in that same mailing a unique password enabling them to vote. Those without Internet access at home or work can easily access the site by visiting their local public (or in many instances academic or school) library.

Members who received paper ballots last year and members who do not have an e-mail address on file will receive a letter informing them about the online election and how to vote. The letter will be sent Oct. 17.

A printed version of a paper ballot will continue to be readily available upon request to members with disabilities and no Internet access.

To help the ALA prepare for the election, log on to the ALA Web site (in the upper right hand corner of the home page) and add your e-mail address to your member record (instructions on how to do this are provided on the site).

Rettig said the decision to hold an exclusively online election saves the association nearly half a million pieces of paper and $90,000 in postage and printing costs. This, Rettig said, is good for the association and the environment.

He said, “It is also a year in which every organization is looking at ways in which it can reduce energy consumption and adopt ‘greener’ approaches.

“Funds that would have been used for paper ballots can now be used to support critical member services and advocacy activities on behalf of libraries.”

Further information on the upcoming election and new procedures will be forthcoming in American Libraries, AL Direct, and member mailings. In the meantime, ALA Librarian Karen Muller ( or Member Services Director Juanita Rodriguez ( can answer any questions you may have.