Professional Organizations: Beyond ALA

by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ Vermont

Professional Organizations: Beyond ALA

 This is part three of a three part series on professional organizations.
Part one was published on June 14, and part two was published on June 21.

marymichelle1While ALA is the largest and best known of professional library associations, did you know that there are many local and specialty specific library associations that may meet your needs better than ALA?  Many of these associations hold their own conferences (more speaking and networking opportunities!), maintain their own jobs list, and offer various scholarships.

This article is going to highlight a few national library organizations but you can always find your local association by searching for “library association” and the name of your state or region or check the ALA’s list of state and regional chapters here.  And remember, even regional or state associations can be subdivided in to interest groups and specialties, so there is a space out there for everyone.  This is just an overview of the few, of many, you can join!


aallIf you are interested in law librarianship – you might want to look into the AALL: American Association of Law Libraries.  Created to “promote and enhance the value of law libraries,” this association has over 5,000 members made up of law librarians and professionals affiliated with law schools, firms, academic libraries and local, state and federal agencies.  Their annual conference is coming up in July if you want to attend!


atlaThe ATLA or American Theological Library Association is dedicated to the librarians who support theological and religious studies.  Founded in 1946, ATLA consists of nearly 1,000 members and represents many religious traditions and denominations.  They maintain an online collection of more than 220 religion and theology journals at ATLASerials.  Their conference for 2013 is in mid-June.


arlisARLIS/NA or Art Libraries Society of North America is an organization of more than 1,000 and is dedicated to the fostering of excellence in art and design librarianship and image management.  Librarians in art history, visual arts, architecture, museum studies and archaeology may find a good match in this organization.


slaThe Special Libraries Association consists of over 9,000 members in 75 countries.  SLA includes members from corporate, academic and government libraries.  They provide many webinars as well as in person opportunities for professional development.  Like ALA, SLA has many smaller sub-divisions and regional chapters.


ajlThe Jewish Libraries Association was created to promote professional development opportunities and leadership within librarians dedicated to Judaica librarianship.  It is made up of two primary divisions the Research Libraries, Archives and Special Collections (RAS) and the Schools, Synagogues, and Centers (SSC.).  This association is international in its membership and is associated with the ALA and ATLA.


mla1The Medical Library Association (MLA) consists of more than 4,000 health sciences information professionals from more than 1,100 institutions.  They seek to promote the importance of quality health information and health care information to the public.  They maintain a job board, meet annually and have several local chapters.  MLA helped establish Librarians without Borders to assist people anywhere in the world in need of health related information.


mla2Another MLA is the Music Library Association.  Established in 2008, they provide a professional forum for information professionals who support and preserve the world’s musical heritage.  They develop and promote professional development aimed at music librarians.  They promote legislation that aids in music library service and universal access to music and collaborate with other groups to further their cause.   They have an excellent copyright guide for music related questions.  They hold their annual meetings in February.