United for Libraries is a division of the American Library Association (A.L.A.) that was originally known as the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations and is still sometimes identified by that name. It came about as a merger of Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (F.O.L.U.S.A.) and the Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (A.LT.A.) in 2009.
According to United for Libraries, “Through this partnership, United for Libraries brings together libraries’ voices to speak out on behalf of library services and free public access to information.”
United for Libraries is a national network of enthusiastic library supporters who believe in the importance of libraries as the social and intellectual centers of communities and campuses. No one has a stronger voice for libraries than those who use them, raise money for them, and govern them. By uniting these voices, library supporters everywhere will become a real force to be reckoned with at the local, state, and national levels.
As recounted by Peggy Danhof, a former president of the division, in “A Short History of United for Libraries,” the first division of the A.L.A. was the American Library Trustees Association, founded in 1890. The librarian members of the A.L.A. were quite aware of the important role trustees played in public libraries.
The number of A.L.A. divisions multiplied as varieties of specialized research libraries and new library positions emerged. In 1999, the name of the American Library Trustees Association changed to the Association for Library Trustees and Advocates.
The new name reflected greater community outreach by librarians and recognition of the fact that to achieve certain goals, head librarians depended on help from outside allies. In 1975, a project of the Committee on Friends of the Libraries of the A.L.A.’s Library Administration and Management Association (L.A.M.A.) to create a director of friends of libraries groups in towns and on campuses evolved into a new organization, Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (F.O.L.U.S.A.).
This new organization was not part of the A.L.A. In the summer of 2007, the executive director of the A.L.T.A. resigned to accept another position with another A.L.A. division.
That summer, the executive director, the president, and president-elect of the A.L.T.A. held a meeting to discuss a proposal by the executive director of the F.O.L.U.S.A. for F.O.L.U.S.A. to join A.L.A. by merging with the A.L.T.A. For the next year-and-a-half, members of the two groups held town hall-style meetings to share their visions of a future, enlarged ALA division.
Finally, the members of the A.L.T.A. and the board of the F.O.L.U.S.A. voted to merge effective February 1, 2009 as the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (A.L.T.A.F.F.). Its mission is to give a united voice to library trustees, friends of libraries groups, and library foundations. It actively promotes the development of library foundations to raise money for libraries from private sources.
In 1986, former F.O.L.U.S.A. president Frederick G. Ruffner founded the Literary Landmarks Association to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites. The first dedication was at Slip F18 in Bahia Mar, Florida, the anchorage of the Busted Flush, the houseboat home of novelist John D. MacDonald's protagonist Travis McGee.
An official F.O.L.U.S.A. committee took over the Literary Landmark project in 1989. The Literary Landmarks project continues with United for Libraries. Dedications have included homes of famous writers (Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner), libraries and museum collections, literary scenes (such as John's Grill in San Francisco, immortalized by Dashiell Hammett, and Willa Cather's Prairie near Red Cloud, Nebraska), and even "Grip" the Raven, the former pet of Charles Dickens and inspiration to Edgar Allan Poe and now (stuffed) at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rare Books Department.
One can join the A.L.T.A.F.F. as an individual, but there are three categories of organizational members: Boards of Trustees, Friends Group, and Foundations. A.L.T.A.F.F. recently introduced a new category of membership, Authors for Libraries. State libraries can also purchase statewide group memberships.
A.L.T.A.F.F. has online tools for Friends Groups, Library Foundations, and Trustees. A.L.T.A..F.F. members from Friends Groups and Library Foundations can also access resources through the online Friends & Foundations Zone while Trustees can access resources through the online Trustee Zone.
By joining Authors for Libraries, authors and authoresses will stay abreast of topics of concern to libraries nationally for $39. They will be connected to libraries, friends of libraries, and library foundations.
Join ALTAFF through this program and you will receive a link from the ALTAFF website to your website where library staff, Friends groups, and Foundation staff can find information about upcoming tours to assist with scheduling library talks and book signings and well as information about forthcoming books and resources for book groups.
They receive The Voice for America’s Libraries, A.L.T.A.F.F.’s bi-monthly newsletter with articles about issues and trends in libraries, highlights of creative programs and fundraising efforts from libraries, friends groups, and library foundations across the U.S., and details about how one can help advocate for libraries.
Remember, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 9, 2014.