The American Library Association (ALA) is a professional organization for librarians and other library workers in the United States. It was founded in 1876 and is based in Chicago, Illinois. The ALA represents more than 60,000 members, including librarians, library staff, and library trustees, as well as library educators, library students, and library supporters.
The ALA's 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." To achieve this mission, the organization engages in a wide range of activities, including:
- Representing the interests of the library profession before government officials, the media, and the general public
- Developing and promoting policies and standards for library services and librarianship
Offering education and professional development opportunities for librarians and library staff
- Providing resources and support to libraries and library workers
- Advocating for intellectual freedom and the right to access information
The ALA has a number of divisions, round tables and office that focuses on specific areas of librarianship such as youth services, library technology, and public libraries. The organization also publishes several journals and newsletters, and sponsors a variety of conferences, meetings, and other events throughout the year.
The ALA also advocates for libraries on a national and international level, particularly for funding and support of library services, and it has actively fought for intellectual freedom and the rights of library patrons to access information. One of the most important work that ALA does is its "Office for Intellectual Freedom" that focuses on issues of censorship, privacy, and access to information.