Monday, February 9, 2009

ALA and Chicago 100 Years

The headquarters for the American Library Association will have been located in Chicago for 100 years as of September 1, 2009. The ALA Executive Board voted on June 27, 1908 to locate the headquarters office in Chicago. On May 17, 1909, the Chicago Public Library offered free space in the library for use by ALA. On September 1, 1909 the ALA Office opened in the Chicago Public Library. For the first several decades of ALA's history, the headquarters for the Association was wherever the elected Secretary was located. For several years an official headquarters for ALA was established in Boston. As recounted by Wayne A. Wiegand in The Politics of an Emerging Profession: The American Library Association 1876-1917 (Greenwood Press, 1986) ALA investigated several possible sites for a permanent headquarters. These included, at various times, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and finally Chicago. Since its establishment in Chicago, several attempts have been made to relocate the headquarters to Washington, D.C. It is fitting that this year's Annual ALA Conference will take place in Chicago. For a selective illustrated online history of ALA, click here.

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