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Legislation Committee | The American Library Association Archives

Name: Legislation Committee

Historical Note:

The Legislation Committee first appeared as a special committee of the Council in 1917 (1). By 1923 the Legislation Committee was a standing committee of the Council. Its missions was to keep the ALA informed on current American library legislation and to prepare a digest of all library laws (2). In 1942 the Legislation Committee was renamed the Committee on Library Legislation and given the function of advising on legislative matters to supplement its previous role as an information provider (3). On January 1, 1957, the Committee on Library Legislation and the Federal Relations Committee were merged into the Library Administration Division Federal Relations Committee (4). The Federal Relations Committee had been appointed in 1931 as the successor to the Federal and State Relations Committee first appointed in 1907 (5). The function of the Federal and State Relations Committee and its successor was to advise on legislative or governmental action affecting libraries and to represent the ALA in legislative or governmental proceedings (6). In July 1961 the Legislation Committee was re-established by the ALA Council as an independent standing committee to succeed the Federal Relations Committee of the Library Administration Division (7). The first official meeting of the committee was held in Washington, D.C., January 4-5, 1962 (8). Its defined duties include:

1. Recommending legislative policy and programs for Council approval.

2. Protesting legislation or executive policy detrimental to libraries.

3. Seeking rulings and interpretations of law and regulations affecting libraries.

4. Representing ALA before governmental branches at all levels.

5. Gathering information within ALA about needed legislation and informing ALA units about legislative programs.

6. Directing all ALA units in matters relating to legislation (9).

A federal legislation policy statement prepared by the Federal Relations Committee was adopted by the Council on January 29, 1959 (10). This was revised in January, 1965 when three sections dealing with library education, research in Library Science, and auxiliary legislation were added (11). The official statement of the Committee's function appeared in 1961 (12), was revised in June, 1969 (13). The Legislative Committee has assumed "full responsibility for the Association's total legislative program on all levels--federal, state, and local," and directs "the activities of all units of the Association in matters relating to legislation? (14).


1-Copyright (ad hoc subcommittee)

2-Legislation Assembly (subcommittee)


Coalition on Government Information (ad hoc subcommittee)


1. ALA Bulletin: Handbook, 1917, p. 451.

2. ALA Bulletin, July 1923, pp. 180-81.

3. ALA Bulletin: Handbook, December 1942, p. H-35.

4. ALA Bulletin: Organization and Information, December 1957, pp. 855-56.

5. ALA Bulletin, April 1931, p. 273: ALA Bulletin, September 1908, p. 176.

6. Bulletin of the American Library Association, March 1923, p. 180.

7. ALA Council and Membership, Proceedings, Annual Conference, Cleveland, 9-15, July 1961, Second Session, 13 July 1961, pp. 104-8; "Legislative Committee" in Legislation File, 1968-1975, Record Series 2/4/11, Box 2, ALA Archives.

8. ALA Bulletin, February 1962, p. 76.

9. ALA Handbook of Organization 1984/85, p. 15.

10. ALA Council and Membership, Proceedings, Midwinter Conference, Chicago, 28-29, January 1959, Second Session, January 29, 1959, pp. 20-58.

11. ALA Council, Proceedings, Midwinter Conference, Washington, D.C., 26-27 January 1965, First Session, January 26, 1967, pp. 41-5, Minutes, pp. 2-3 and Exhibit 4.

12. "Legislation Committee," in Legislation File, 1968-1975, Record Series 2/4/11, Box 2, ALA Archives.

13. ALA Council, Minutes, Annual Conference, Atlantic City, 24-27 June, 1969, Second Session (27 June, 1969), p. 15 and Exhibit 8.

14. ALA Handbook of Organization, 1985-1986, p. 14.

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