Saturday, January 14, 2006

American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) promotes libraries and library education in the United States and internationally. It has approximately 66,000 members. It was founded in 1876 in Philadelphia and chartered in 1879 in Massachusetts, making it the oldest and largest library association in the world. Its head office is in Chicago. Since 2002, the Executive Director (CEO) of the American Library Association has been Keith Michael Fiels. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Association and its staff.
Its mission is "to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all." It is open to any person or organization willing to pay dues, though most of its members are libraries or librarians. Most members live and work in the United States; international members comprise 3.5% of total membership.
The ALA is governed by an elected council and an executive board. Policies and programs are administered by various committees and roundtables. One of the organization's most visible tasks is overseen by the Office for Accreditation, which formally reviews and authorizes American academic institutions that offer degree programs in library and information science.
Members may choose to join one or more of 11 membership divisions which deal with specialized topics such as academic, school, or public libraries, technical or reference services, and library administration. Members may also choose to join any of 17 roundtables, that are grouped around more specific interests and issues than the broader set of ALA divisions.
The ALA is affiliated with regional, state, and student chapters across the country. It also organizes conferences, participates in library standards development, and publishes a number of books and periodicals. The ALA annually confers numerous notable book and media awards, including the Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal, and the Stonewall Book Award.


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