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Library Association

1. Introduction: The existence of a profession rests on the bonds among the practitioners and these bonds can take the shape of a formal association. So the professional associations are by and for the professionals in the concerned field. It serves as a forum for coordinate efforts for the concerned profession.

In the context of libraries, the association means the organization of the library staff members, persons or institutions related to the library matter and profession. The library associations are those professional organizations of learned people which foster a spirit of public service among the members, promote the library services, and protect the interest of their members and builds up the image of the library profession in the society.

2. Historical Account: In 1852 a group of librarians, scholars, teachers and clergymen met in New York for the foundation and management of a collection of books or knowledge for public use. In May, 1876 a few library devotees, by taking the hint from the meeting of 1852, proposed a like gathering in connection with the great exhibition in Philadelphia. The announcement of the meeting that would be held in October 4, 1876 was sent to the leading libraries and to the leading librarians abroad. As a result of this gathering, the American Library Association (ALA) was formally inaugurated on October 4, 1876 and this was followed only a year later by the Library Association (LA) in the United Kingdom.

3. Functions and Activities of Library Associations: The functions of a library association depend upon the particular pursuit for which the association is formed. Generally, a library association performs the following functions
a) Act as a Common Forum: Library association acts as a common forum for library professionals for exchange of information, ideas, experience and expertise.
b) Library Movement: Library association works as the backbone of library movement in a country. It spreads knowledge and information.
c) Planning: The library association puts a behavioral future planning of the present position of libraries, library staff and library services after proper evaluation of its present state of affairs.
d) Put Pressure on Authority: The association forces the government to accept their demand by the right movement for the welfare of the library staff, like enacting the library legislation.
e) Development of the Profession: The association works for the betterment of salaries, grades, service and working conditions for the library professionals and also for improving their status in the society.
f) Problem Solving: Library association works hand in hand to find out solution for the adhoc professional problem.
g) Conduct Survey and Research: Library association conducts surveys and research of library facilities and services to ascertain the existing conditions so as to take necessary steps for improvement.
h) Code of Conduct: Library association prepares the code of conduct for the librarians and other library staff to maintain the professional standard.
i) Resource Sharing: Library associations works for the sharing of resources to avoid duplication of efforts.
j) Make General Public Conscious: Library association makes the general public conscious towards the utility of the library and information centers.
k) Holds Conferences, Seminars, Meeting, and Lectures: To discuss and exchange ideas and experiences library associations hold conferences, seminars, meeting, lectures, etc.
l) Training Courses: Library associations also conduct training programmes for self improvement of the professionals.
m) Standardization: A library association establishes and encourages the adoption of standards to improve the quality of library services.
n) Institute Prizes, Rewards, and Fellowship: Library association institutes prizes, rewards for library science students, research scholars and professionals in recognition of their contribution to the profession.
o) Publication: A library association creates and publishes professional literature in the subject areas.
p) Cooperation: Library associations maintain cooperation and healthy relation with other professional associations of various levels within and outside the country.

4. Types of Library Associations: Library associations can be grouped into the following categories-
4.1 Based on Geographic Area Covered: Based on the geographic area covered by a library association, it can be grouped into International, National, State and Local.
a) International Library Associations: Several professional organizations and private foundations around the world work to promote international cooperation in establishing new libraries and in improving services at the existing libraries. These organizations provide the librarians with information about the international forums in which they can exchange ideas, develop networks for sharing resources, and create compatible standards and protocols for various library procedures. Some of the most prominent international library programmes are those sponsored by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) (; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (; the International Council on Archives (ICA) (; the British Council (; the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) ( and the U.S. Department of State, through its Office of International Information Programs.
Organization like the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) also play important role in library and information science activities.
b) National Library Associations: The American Library Association (ALA) (1876), Association for Information Management (ASLIB), The Canadian Library Association (CLA) (1946), Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) (, The Special Libraries Association (SLA), (1909), The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) (1915), The American Society for Information Science (ASIS), The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) (1932), The Society of American Archivists (SAA) (1936), etc are some of the most popular national library associations in the world.
In India, All India Public Library Association (1919); Indian Library Association (1933); Government of India Library Association (1933); All India Rural Library Association (1933); All India Manuscripts Library Association (1944) are some of popular library associations that were established before independence. The Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), Indian Association of Special Libraries and Information Centers (IASLIC) (1955); All India College Library Association (1966); Indian Association of Teachers of Library and Information Science (IATLIS) (1969); Society for Information Science (SIS) (1969); Indian Theological Library Association; Medical Library Association of India (MALI), etc. were established after independence.
c) State Library Associations: In case of state level library association, Assam Library Association, Sadau Asom Gramya Puthibharal Santha, Gujarat Library Association [Gujarat Granthalaya-Seva Sangh (GGSS)], Karnataka State Library Association, Kerala Library Association, Punjab Library Association, Uttar Pradesh Library Association, Bengal Library Association (Bangiya Granthagar Parishad), etc are functioning properly. Among the state level associations the Andhra Pradesh Library Association’s “Granthalaya sarvaswamu (1915)” is the oldest professional journal which is still in publication.
d) Local Library Associations: Madras Library Association, Bombay Science Librarian's Association (BOSLA), Guwahati Library Association (GLA), Jorhat Library Association, etc. are very active local level library associations in India.

4.2 Based on Functioning Areas: Based on the functioning areas, library associations can be grouped into two- General Library Association and Special Library Association.
a) General Library Association: Indian Library Association, Assam Library Association are general library association where any professional can be a member.
b) Special Library Association: Indian Association of Special Libraries and Information Centers (IASLIC), Indian Association of Teachers of Library and Information Science (IATLIS), etc. are special library association where membership is allowed only to those professionals that work in the particular field.

5. Conclusion: The professional associations address issues like financial support for libraries, censorship, and cooperative acquisition of library materials. They also attempt to influence legislation that affect libraries, establishes policies and standards relating to libraries and librarians, and support continuing education for librarians. Almost all of these organizations publish journals or monographs relating to their particular areas of interest. Professional library associations hold conferences on a regular basis so that librarians may come together in order to develop policies and share ideas. Most professional librarians belong to at least one professional organization.

Private foundations also promote increased and improved library services around the world. Private philanthropic organizations also provide leadership in the establishment and maintenance of libraries around the world. In the early 20th century, the Carnegie Corporation of New York was instrumental in establishing free public libraries in Africa, Latin America, and the South Pacific, but the organization stopped this programme in 1917. Today, the Ford Foundation, based in New York City, provides vital financial support for libraries in the developing nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
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