Non-profit

American Library Association (ALA)

Website:

www.ala.org

Location:

CHICAGO, IL

Tax ID:

36-2166947

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $48,140,727
Expenses: $53,145,868
Assets: $71,557,291

American Library Association, established in 1876, is a nonprofit organization that advocates for legislation that improves libraries in America. The organization has a left-of-center approach to public policy, sponsoring the annual “Banned Books Week” to criticize largely unsuccessful social-conservative efforts to remove books from library shelves and engaging in advocacy supporting liberal expansionist immigration policy. [1]

Background

The American Library Association was founded on October 6, 1876, during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, when 103 librarians from across the country came to a “Convention of Librarians” at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. [2]

The preliminary beginnings happened in 1853 in New York City, with a network for librarians. Charles C. Jewett of the Smithsonian Institution became the first president and Seth Hastings Grant of the New York Mercantile Library was elected secretary. A committee of five was appointed to organize a second meeting in 1854, but the meeting was never held until a major call for another meeting occurred two decades later. [3]

The ALA Council adopted the Library Bill of Rights on June 19, 1939. These rights are: [4]

  • “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”
  • “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
  • “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
  • “Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.”
  • “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.”
  • “Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”

Banned Books Week

The ALA sponsors the annual “Banned Books Week” each September. The association produces a top 10 list of books “challenged” by people seeking their removal from libraries or schools based on media reports. In 2019, the association expanded the list to 11. [5]

The ALA claimed that 483 books were challenged in 2018. The number one book on the from calendar year 2018, George by Alex Gino, a book for children about being transgender. [6]

Broadly, books with themes or characters pertaining to LGBT and Black Lives Matter issues targeted at children and young adults were the most challenged in 2018, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. [7]

The number two book on the list was the children’s book A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by author Jill Twiss with illustrations by E.G. Keller, featuring a same-sex relationship between two rabbits. [8]

The books are generally targeted for removal or restrictions in public libraries, but usually remain available.

The ALA Action Guide even states, “Each year, the American Library Association is asked why the week is called Banned Books Week instead of Challenged Books Week, since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but ‘merely’ challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not ‘own’ the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.” [9]

Selective Opposition to Censorship

Cuba

In 2005, the Organization of American States, Amnesty International, and Freedom House called for the Cuban Castro regime to release 65 Cuban librarians and dissidents who were imprisoned for making books available that the regime had not approved for libraries. Some Cuban judges ordered the “incineration” of the libraries containing the works of Martin Luther King, Jr., and books such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm. [10]

After library associations from Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Estonia joined the call, 70 percent of ALA members said in an early 2006 survey that the council should adopt a resolution. However, the ALA Council declined to condemn the censorship in Cuba. The association also fended off calls to put the Cuba matter on the “Book Burning in the 21st Century” section of its website. [11]

Social-Conservative Literature

In 2008, Fairfax County, Virginia, refused to carry more than 100 books donated by conservative Christian students and parents produced by the social-conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family. [12] Regina Griggs, a social-conservative activist, said she asked the ALA to issue a statement during Banned Books Week urging the Fairfax County school libraries to carry the social-conservative books. But the ALA did not get involved. [13]

In July 2009, controversial critic of Islam Robert Spencer was set to be part of an ALA panel titled “Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping.” However, the association cancelled the forum after a complaint by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). [14]

Condemnation of Memory

In June 2019, at its annual conference, the ALA did away with its Melvil Dewey Medal. Dewey, a co-founder of the ALA, created the “Dewey Decimal” classification system, used in libraries around the world to categorize books. Dewey also created the nation’s first library school at Columbia University. Dewey’s memory was condemned over his censure in 1906 for improper behavior toward women, such as unwanted kissing and hugging in public. He was also known for anti-Semitism and racism. [15]

Sherre Harrington, coordinator of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table’s Feminist Task Force said: “It wasn’t like he’s being judged by 21st century standards. He was called out repeatedly for his sexual harassment behavior during his time.” [16]

In 2018, the ALA removed author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from an award after allegations that her Little House on the Prairie books were anti-Native American and anti-African American. [17]

Political Positions

The ALA was among early organizations that passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage in 2005. Shortly after, it established a Rainbow List to “provide young people with books that … relate to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning experience.” The ALA’s Stonewall Book Award honors the best LGBT-themed book every year. [18] The ALA has since established the “Social Responsibility Roundtable,” the “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Roundtable.” [19]

Following 9/11, the ALA strongly opposed the USA Patriot Act. The council passed a resolution in 2003 expressing concern the law would allow the FBI to monitor what Americans are reading. The resolution called the law “a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.” [20]

eBooks

In July 2019, ALA President Wanda K. Brown blasted Macmillan Publishers, for its new eBook policy with libraries. Macmillan Publishers, one of the five largest book publishing firms, announced that starting in November 2019, it would restrict the number of e-books to libraries during the first eight weeks after new works are released. [21]

The company will make a single copy of new eBooks available to each library system upon the book’s release at a cost of $30. The systems could be the New York Public Library or a small-town system that has one branch. Libraries may obtain more copies of the title for eight weeks after publication at cost of $60, according to the ALA.

The ALA teamed with the Public Library Association on an online petition calling for MacMillan to provide more electronic copies to libraries. [22]

References

  1. Flock, Elizabeth. “Why These Librarians Are Protesting Trump’s Executive Orders.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, February 13, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/librarians-protesting-trumps-executive-orders. ^
  2. History. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.ala.org/aboutala/history ^
  3. History. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.ala.org/aboutala/history ^
  4. Lucas, Fred. “Librarians for the Left.” Organization Trends. December 7, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2019.  https://capitalresearch.org/article/librarians-for-the-left/ ^
  5. Cadden, Mary. “It’s Banned Books Week: Here Are the 11 Most Challenged Books.” USA Today. September 25, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/books/2019/09/25/banned-books-week-how-many-have-you-read/2442370001/ ^
  6. Lindell, Karen. “Down With Dewey.” Slate. September 27, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019.   https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/books/2019/09/25/banned-books-week-how-many-have-you-read/2442370001/ ^
  7. Caine, Paul. “Banned Books: Librarians Push Back Against Censorship.” WTTW. September 23, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://news.wttw.com/2019/09/23/banned-books-librarians-push-back-against-censorship ^
  8. Caine, Paul. “Banned Books: Librarians Push Back Against Censorship.” WTTW. September 23, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019.  https://news.wttw.com/2019/09/23/banned-books-librarians-push-back-against-censorship ^
  9. Staff. “Banned Books Week is Next Week.” Librarian.Net. September 6, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. http://www.librarian.net/stax/1858/ ^
  10. Nat Hentoff, “American Library Association Shamed,” Jewish World Review, March 5, 2007. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff030507.php3 ^
  11. Nat Hentoff, “American Library Association Shamed,” Jewish World Review, March 5, 2007. Accessed October 7, 2019. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff030507.php3 ^
  12. Lucas, Fred. “Librarians for the Left.” Organization Trends. December 7, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2019.  https://capitalresearch.org/article/librarians-for-the-left/ ^
  13. Diane Macedo, “Gay Reversal Advocates Say School Libraries Banning Their ‘Ex-Gay’ Book,” Fox News Channel, October 22, 2009. https://www.foxnews.com/us/gay-reversal-advocates-say-school-libraries-banning-their-ex-gay-books ^
  14. Lucas, Fred. “Librarians for the Left.” Organization Trends. December 7, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2019.  https://capitalresearch.org/article/librarians-for-the-left/ ^
  15. Lindell, Karen. “Down With Dewey.” Slate. September 27, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019.   https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/09/melvil-dewey-american-library-association-award-name-change.html ^
  16. Lindell, Karen. “Down With Dewey.” Slate. September 27, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019.   https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/09/melvil-dewey-american-library-association-award-name-change.html ^
  17. Lindell, Karen. “Down With Dewey.” Slate. September 27, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019.   https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/09/melvil-dewey-american-library-association-award-name-change.html ^
  18. Lucas, Fred. “Librarians for the Left.” Organization Trends. December 7, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2019.   https://capitalresearch.org/article/librarians-for-the-left/ ^
  19. Lucas, Fred. “Librarians for the Left.” Organization Trends. December 7, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2019.  https://capitalresearch.org/article/librarians-for-the-left/ ^
  20. Paul Walfield, “The ALA Library: Terrorist Sanctuary,” FrontPageMagazine.com, May 8, 2003. https://sice.indiana.edu/news/story.html?ils_id=643 ^
  21. [1] Smith, Raymond. “Publisher Being Denounced for Limiting Sale of E-Books to Library.” October 4, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/10/publisher-being-denounced-for-limiting-sale-of-e-books-to-libraries/ ^
  22. [1] Smith, Raymond. “Publisher Being Denounced for Limiting Sale of E-Books to Library.” October 4, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/10/publisher-being-denounced-for-limiting-sale-of-e-books-to-libraries/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1952

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Aug Form 990 $48,140,727 $53,145,868 $71,557,291 $32,621,842 Y $15,826,779 $25,102,178 $1,628,272 $943,913
    2016 Aug Form 990 $50,529,729 $52,636,113 $74,872,198 $45,343,566 Y $15,940,083 $25,526,732 $1,835,161 $882,281
    2015 Aug Form 990 $54,321,362 $56,884,503 $76,735,284 $46,033,717 Y $17,449,579 $25,749,273 $1,748,483 $783,245 PDF
    2014 Aug Form 990 $50,465,465 $47,195,041 $79,526,348 $41,706,274 Y $14,631,292 $25,008,930 $1,444,385 $1,052,204 PDF
    2013 Aug Form 990 $50,374,276 $49,981,103 $75,519,302 $44,693,920 Y $16,522,474 $23,534,741 $1,220,123 $1,057,494 PDF
    2012 Aug Form 990 $48,793,543 $49,534,877 $76,175,774 $45,569,474 Y $15,558,659 $23,581,896 $1,344,857 $1,002,883 PDF
    2011 Aug Form 990 $47,542,605 $47,409,564 $69,724,896 $39,423,299 Y $15,454,400 $21,973,146 $1,535,283 $974,347 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Library Association (ALA)

    50 E HURON ST
    CHICAGO, IL 60611-2729