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International Relations Committee | The American Library Association Archives

Name: International Relations Committee

Historical Note:

In 1956, Council created the International Relations Committee (IRC) to replace the International Relations Board (1), which had in turn replaced the Committee on International Relations in 1942 (2). Its purpose is "to promote the exchange of librarians between this and other countries; to encourage and facilitate the use of library and bibliographic techniques and knowledge throughout the world; to assist in the exchange of professional information, ideas, and literature between this and other countries; to coordinate the activities of other units of the Association within this field? (3).

The IRC functions primarily through its elected members, although there is a staff liaison--historically, often ALA's Executive Director. Its meeting goals include a) the study and examination of international aspects of librarianship that are of concern to the Association, b) advice to the Executive Director and other units involved in international projects, and c) recommendations of policy to the Executive Board and Council (4).

The administrative relationships among IRC and other international groups within ALA are not uniform or explicitly stated. Divisional international committees were never compelled to coordinate their activities with IRC (5), and IRC never issued directives to govern the creation of international relations committees in the divisions (6). Five types of groups have relationships with the IRC:

1. Division IRC Subcommittees (appointed by Divisions, report to IRC);

2. Special Project Subcommittees (established by IRC, report to IRC);

3. Panels and Round Tables (report to IRC);

4. ALA Representatives to International Organizations (appointed by ALA President on the Motion of IRC);

5. Committees of Interest to IRC (which do not report to IRC) (7).

IRC's closest working relationship was with the International Relations Office. Reductions in the Office's budget and its termination affected the ability of IRC to implement its goals (8). IRC emphasized international library education but its actual programs and activities were never clearly differentiated from other areas under the IRC umbrella (9).


1 -  Chair


30 -  Committee on Library Cooperation with Latin America

60 - Importations

91 - Advisory Committees

93 - Ad Hoc Committees - Liaison with Japanese Libraries


1. ALA Bulletin, December 1956, p.717.

2. ALA Bulletin, December 1942, p.H-33.

3. ALA Handbook of Organization,1983-1984, p.14.

4. ALA-IRC-COPES and Council Reports File, 1970-1972, Record Series 70/1/20, ALA Archives.

5. ALA Yearbook 1976, p.199.

6. Letter from Ralph T. Esterquest to Emil W. Allen, Jr., July 24, 1968 Record Series 70/1/6, ALA Archives.

7. IRC Subcommittees File, 1968-1969 (RS 70/1/6).

8. ALA-IRC-COPES and Council Reports File, 1970-1972 Record Series 70/1/20 ALA Archives.

9. History of ALA, 1876-1972, p. 183.

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