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American Library Trustees Association (ALTA) | The American Library Association Archives

Name: American Library Trustees Association (ALTA)

Historical Note:

In September 1890 in New Hampshire the Trustees Section of the American Library Association was formed (1). In suceeding years, trustees were involved with "Library Work From the Trustees' INT" and "Duties of Trustees and Their Relations with Librarians." Because of changes in ALA organization, the Trustees Section became the Trustees Division on June 24, 1941 (2). Issues that remained important to the trustees were the development of libraries and services, and the enlightenment of members through publications and conferences. In 1947, the first citation for outstanding service was presented to a trustee (3). By 1955, membership had grown close to 800. A handbook was introduced at the Philadelphia Conference, and for the first time a correspondence course for trustees was offered by the University of Chicago. The division changed its name to the American Association for Library Trustees (AALT) in 1955. In the fall of 1958, AALT's periodical, Public Library Trustee, was first published (4).

In 1960, AALT became the American Library Trustee Association (ALTA) (5). ALTA concerns itself with the development of library services for communities (6). Its many responsibilities include the support of public library trustees and acting as a legislative voice in Washington (7). It also acts to provide educational programs for library trustees, enabling them to carry out their functions. ALTA reviews trustee activities and urges its members to participate in ALA functions. Another purpose of ALTA is to organize trustees within states or regions, providing for better communication between ALTA and governement agencies. ALTA also encourages citizen support for libraries (8). Since 1982, the organization has emphasized workshops, publications, speakers and programs at the local level to better educate trustees (9).

ALTA publishes the ALTA Newsletter, Conference Book, Official Observers Book, ALTA Honor Award brochure and Literacy Award brochure (10).

On February 1, 2009, Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) and the Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA) joined forces to become an expanded division of ALA known as the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, now United for Libraries. Through this partnership, United for Libraries brings together libraries' voices to speak out on behalf of library services and free public access to information.

United for Libraries is a national network of enthusiastic library supporters who believe in the importance of libraries as the social and intellectual centers of communities and campuses. No one has a stronger voice for libraries than those who use them, raise money for them, and govern them. By uniting these voices, library supporters everywhere will become a real force to be reckoned with at the local, state, and national levels (11).


1. Seventy-Five Years of ALTA 1890-1965, Chicago, 1966, p. 1.

2. Ibid., p. 4.

3. Ibid., p. 10-11.

4. Ibid., p. 12.

5. Ibid., p. 13.

6. ALA Handbook of Organization, Chicago, 1983, p. 38.

7. ALA Yearbook, Chicago, 1983, p. 26.

8. ALA Handbook, p. 38.

9. ALA Yearbook, p. 25.

10. Ibid., p. 26.

11. The New Voice for America's Libraries, United for Libraries,

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