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Public Information Office | The American Library Association Archives

Name: Public Information Office

Historical Note:

Recommendation was made in 1923 for a full time Headquarters staff appointment for publicity and broadened in 1929 to include information dissemination, both subsumed under a Publicity Department (1). Between 1930 and 1942, the Department, responsible to the Executive Director, acted under the supervision of the Publicity Committee (2). Thereafter, until 1973, this department became known as the Public Relations Division or Office, which also conducted the activities of the Department of Information and Advisory Services (3). As an outgrowth of this later department, the Public Information Office (PIO) first appeared in 1974 as part of "Other Services" (4).

The Public Information Office (PIO) was formed in th 1974 after a reorganization of the Public Relations and Membership Promotion Offices (5). In October 1974 the Executive Committee of the National Book Committee, Inc. voted to discontinue their library promotional effort, National Library Week (NLW), with the understanding that ALA would assume responsibility for NLW (6); PIO began functioning in 1975 when ALA inherited that responsibility (7).

The purpose of the Public Information Office is to maintain communication with the national and international press, providing information about ALA, its activities, and major developments affecting the library profession (8). "The responsibility for implementing national information programs . . . rests with the Public Information Office of the Association with support by the Public Relations (LAMA) Section and other appropriate groups" (9).

The Public Information Office is an ALA headquarters staff component (10). Its position has been changed from an original listing as "Other Services" (11) to a "Publishing Services" office (12), to a position as a Communications Services unit (13).

In 1980 the Office included a director and a publishing information officer (14); in 1983, the publishing information officer became public information officer, and the position of chapter relations officer was added (15).

"PIO produces a weekly review column "About Books" syndicated to more than 700 newspapers" (16) and, since 1982, a quarterly publication, Openers (17).


1. ALA Bulletin, vol. 17 (Jan.-Nov. 1923)

2. ALA RS # 12/1/5, Public Relations Backfile

3. ALA RS # 12/1/5, Report of Public Relations Division, 1942-43

4. Handbook of Organization, 1974-75

5. ALA Yearbook, 1976, p. 285.

6. Library Journal, 15 December 1974, p. 3234.

7. ALA Yearbook, 1977, p. 260.

8. ALA Handbook of Organization 1984-85, p. 223.

9. Ibid; also American Libraries, September 1981, p. 494; ALA Annual Conference, September 1981, Council, Minutes, Exhibit 9, Document 45, "Public Relations Policy."

10. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1984-85, p. 173.

11. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1974-75, p. 67.

12. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1976-77, p. 72.

13. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1984-85, p. 173.

14. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1980-81, p. 142.

15. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1983-84, p. 168.

16. American Libraries, October 1979, p. 521.

17. ALA Yearbook, 1982, p. 221.

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