As American Library Association president, I’m often asked, “What does ALA do for library workers?” While it’s true that the L in our name stands for library and not librarian, ALA has a companion organization that provides direct support to library professionals. The ALA–Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), which is committed to improving the status of librarians and library workers, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Through your ALA membership, you are already part of ALA-APA. And as president of ALA, I’m also president of ALA-APA, so this work is very close to my heart. I’m proud that the leaders who came before me had the foresight to establish ALA-APA to offer resources for librarians, library staff, and library managers to attain their personal and professional goals and effect positive change in their institutions.
ALA Council approved the establishment of ALA-APA in June 2001, charging the organization with lifting up library workers by providing opportunities for practical professional development. This includes the certification of individuals in specializations outside the initial professional degree, and providing direct support of comparable worth information, pay equity initiatives, and other programs to improve the salaries and status of all library workers.
In January 2002, Council approved the preliminary bylaws, and the scope of APA was broadened to include advocacy for the “mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers.”
Since then, ALA-APA has graduated hundreds through its Certified Public Library Administrator program, a voluntary post-MLS certification program for public librarians with three or more years of supervisory experience, and through its Library Support Staff Certification program, which offers library support staff the opportunity to commit to professional development and continuing education through the completion of competency sets developed and implemented by ALA-APA.
In addition to these programs, ALA-APA hosts the Library Salary Database to help with benchmarking and plotting career moves, along with resources to help library workers advocate for a better salary. You are probably already receiving ALA-APA’s monthly e-newsletter Library Worklife, filled with tips on workplace wellness and HR advice and announcements. What’s more, each April during National Library Week, ALA-APA organizes National Library Workers Day, highlighting the value of library professionals at all levels.
Involvement is key to sustaining ALA-APA’s important work. If you are able, please consider volunteering for one of ALA-APA’s committees, including the Certification Program Committee and the Standing Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers. You could also contribute articles to Library Worklife. Lastly, please consider donating to ALA-APA—it has no membership fees and depends on your contributions.
As ALA continues to respond to the needs of its members and prospective members, the work of ALA-APA remains relevant and vital in pushing for equity in pay, diversity in the profession, and greater access to leadership opportunities for library workers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Let us celebrate a successful 20 years while looking toward the potential and opportunity in the next 20 years of ALA-APA. I see a call to support and advocate for library workers of all levels in new ways, and I am excited by the work and exploration planned by ALA leaders and staff over the coming year. Here’s to the future of ALA-APA!