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Publishing Services | The American Library Association Archives

Name: Publishing Services

Historical Note:

In 1886 the American Library Association established a Publishing Section to create a cooperative publishing program for librarians (1).  The program was to provide catalogs, indexes and bibliographies, and to undertake publishing projects that were not necessarily commercially feasible, but still of value to librarians (2).  By 1900 the ALA changed the name from the Publishing Section to the Publishing Board, and took steps to secure ALA committee status (3).  Two notable titles produced by the Publishing Board in the early part of the century were Booklist (1905-present) and ALA Bulletin (1907-1970, continued by American Libraries 1970-present) (4).  In 1920, as a result of the ALA constitution adopted that year, a standing ALA Editorial Committee replaced the Publishing Board (5).

The next forty years saw a steady increase in library science book publishing.  By 1966 the Editorial Committee could no longer efficiently manage its diverse requirements and responsibilities. To rejuvenate ALA's position in library science publishing, the ALA created a new Publishing Board in 1966.  Operating as an arm of the ALA Executive Board, the new Publishing Board centralized control over manuscript acquisition and editing, design and production, and in marketing (6).

The Publishing Board was concerned with matters of finance, policy, and INT, while the Editorial Committee maintained editorial control over nondivisional works.  Better coordination of editorial policy and financial administration was realized with the merger of the Publishing Board and the Editorial Committee at the ALA San Francisco Conference of 1975 (8).  Following the Conference the two bodies became known as the ALA Publishing Committee.  This ten-member ALA standing committee of Council, which governs over ALA Publishing Services, held its first meeting in October 1975 (8).  At present, ALA Publishing Services manages five principal activities: 1) Books and Pamphlets  2) Booklist  3) Central Production Unit  4) Library Technical Reports and 5) Reference/Subscription Book Reviews (9).


1.  ALA Bulletin  50:11 (December 1956): 703.

2.  ALA Publishing 1975-76; Third Annual Report (Chicago: ALA, 1976) p.6.

3.  Ibid.

4.  Dennis Thomison, A History of the American Library Association: 1876-1972, (Chicago: ALA, 1978), pp.53-54; 235.

5.  ALA Publishing 1975-76, p. 6.

6.  Ibid.

7.  Ibid.

8.  The ALA Yearbook 1976 Centennial Edition; a review of library events 1975,  (Chicago: ALA, 1976), p. 287.

9.  ALA Handbook of Organization 1982-83 and Membership Directory, (Chicago: ALA, 1982), pp. 158-59.

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