Magazine article American Libraries

Strengthening Our Affiliated Body

Magazine article American Libraries

Strengthening Our Affiliated Body

Article excerpt

Some years ago, two strands of interest to American Library Association members came together: an obvious and continuing concern in bettering the pay and working conditions of those who work in libraries and an ever-increasing interest in continuing education and the certification of educational achievement.

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ALA's 501(c)3 tax-exempt status forbids it from directly advocating for better salaries for members or offering certification of attainment in continuing education. The choice was and is stark--we could abandon all efforts in these two key areas or we could create a new body with a different tax status (affiliated with, but not part of, ALA). As is the Association's wont, we took the bolder, riskier path and created a body to address both these important issues--named at birth, more accurately than felicitously, the American Library Association--Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA).

The overall objective of the ALA-APA--which, as a 501(c)6 organization, can work actively and directly on issues that ALA cannot--is to "promote the mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers." At this time, that overall objective is concentrated on "certification of individuals in specializations beyond the initial professional degree" (AL, Nov. 2005, p. 9) and "direct support of comparable worth and pay equity initiatives, and other activities designed to improve the salaries and status of librarians and other library workers." These are broad aims and they need sustained professional and financial support if we are to be successful.

The ALA-APA has not lacked critics--both when it was aborning and throughout its brief existence. Some doubted the need for such a body, while others have been dubious about its financial footing and prospects for success. However, almost all agree that the issues of pay and certification are important and that there is a real need for some mechanism to address these concerns. If the affiliated body were not to be the answer, we would have had to create some other instrument.

The ALA-APA has made a lot of advances in the area of pay and salaries. Its Standing Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers has been active in a number of areas, including the 2004 inauguration of Library Workers Day, which is celebrated annually in April during National Library Week (AL, Mar. …

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