Deciphering ALA

 A Guide to Common ALA Acronyms

At some point, we have all been confused by one acronym or another. Like it or not, the LIS profession is full of them. This list has been broken down by local organizations, common acronyms, and acronyms for divisions of the American Library Association (ALA).

Rhode Island & New England Organizations

CLA Connecticut Library Association
HELIN Higher Education Library Information Network
This is the library consortium for RI and a few MA University libraries
MBLC Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
This is the MA State Library Office
MLA Massachusetts Library Association or Maine Library Association
NELA New England Library Association
NHLA New Hampshire Library Association
OLIS Office of Library and Information Services
This is the RI State Library Office
OSL Ocean State Libraries (formerly CLAN-Cooperative Libraries Automated Network)
This is the RI Library consortium
RIEMA Rhode Island Educational Media Association
RIEMA is the association dedicated to RI’s school librarians
RILA Rhode Island Library Association
RILA is open to all librarians who live and/or work in the state of RI
SLA Special Library Association
The RI Chapter is often referred to as SLA/RI.  This organization caters to any librarians not working in public or school libraries. This association is also wonderful for anyone working in technical services in any type of library.
RARI Reading Across Rhode Island
RARI is an annual One State/One Book reading program founded locally by a group of librarians, teachers, and booksellers.
VLA Vermont Library Association

Common Professional Acronyms

Here is a beginner list of the acronyms most commonly heard in the classroom.

AACR Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
This is the key cataloging code of rules.  This will be essential to know if you are to pass LSC 505.
AASL American Association of School Librarians
ACRL Association of College & Research Libraries
AILA American Indian Library Association
AL American Libraries (major trade periodical of the profession)
ALA American Library Association
ALISE Association for Library & Information Science Education
COA Committee on Accreditation
COD Committee on Diversity
DCMA Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
FTRF Freedom to Read Foundation
GODORT Government Documents Round Table
IFLA International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
IFRT Intellectual Freedom Round Table
ILL Inter-Library Loan or Inter-Library Lending
ISBN International Standard Book Number
An ISBN is like a fingerprint for a book.  Each edition of a book has its own ISBN (i.e. the paperback will have a different ISBN from the hardcover)
ISSN International Standard Serial Number
LC Library of Congress
MARC Machine Readable Cataloging
MARC is the format most U.S. libraries use to format their catalog entries.
OCLC Online Computer Library Center
OCLC is one of the world’s largest library catalogs. Worldcat is part of this network
OIF Office for Intellectual Freedom
OPAC Online Patron Access Catalog
The OPAC is how you access the catalog of your local library.  URI is part of the HELIN network and RI is part of the Ocean State Libraries network.
RDA Resource Description and Access
REFORMA National Association to Promote Library Services to the Spanish Speaking
RFID Radio Frequency Identification Technology
RFP Request for Proposal
RUSA Reference and User Services Association
SLM School Library Media Specialist
School Librarians began using the term SLM to denote the importance they play in the technological expertise and access of their schools.  Interestingly, at the 2010  ALA Midwinter meeting in Boston, school librarians voted to go back to using the term school librarian because the connotation was better received by the masses.  As all changes take time, it is best to know SLM and its affiliation with school librarians. 
WorldCat WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services
XML Extensible Markup Language
Be prepared to hear this in 508.  XML is part of where the “I” in your MLIS degree comes from.
YA Young Adult


ALA Divisions

This is a list of ALA divisions commonly referred to in classes and general discussions about the field. This is not a comprehensive list.  A full list can be found at

ALA-APA American Library Association-Allied Professional Association
ALCTS Association for Library Collections & Technical Services
ALSC Association for Library Service to Children
ALTAFF Association for Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations
ASIST American Society for Information Science and Technology
BCALA Black Caucus of ALA
BIGWIG Blogs, Interactive Groupware & Wikis Interest Group (Division of LITA)
BRASS Business Reference & Services Section (Division of RUSA)
CALA Chinese American Librarians Association
CALM Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums
CBC Children’s Book Council
CC:DA Committee on Cataloging:Description & Access (ALCTS/CCS)
CCC Copyright Clearance Center
CCF ALA Cultural Communities Fund
CLA Canadian Library Association
CLIR Council on Library and Information Resources
COE Committee on Education
COLT Council on Library/Media Technicians
CONTU (National) Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyright
CORS Committee on Research & Statistics
COSWL Committee on the Status of Woman in Librarianship
COUNTER Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources
DLF Digital Library Federation
DLS Distance Learning Section (ACRL)
DOI Digital Object Identifier
EMC Education Media Council
EMIERT Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table
FAFLRT Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table
FOLUSA Friends of Libraries USA
GLBTRT Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table
GOV ALA Governance Office
ICAN Interlibrary Cooperation & Networking (ASCLA)
IFC Intellectual Freedom Committee
IRC International Relations Committee
ITAL Information Technology and Libraries (LITA)
KQ Knowledge Quest (division publication)
LLAMA Library Leadership & Management Association
LCA Library Copyright Alliance
LHRT Library History Round Table
LIRT Library Instruction Round Table
LITA Library & Information Technology Association
LSSPS Libraries Serving Special Populations Section (ASCLA)
MAES Measurement, Assessment, & Evaluation Section (LAMA)
MPS Member Programs and Services
NABE National Association for Bilingual Education
NCATE National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
NCES National Center for Education Statistics
NCLIS National Commission on Libraries & Info. Science
NSN National Storytelling Network (ALA Affiliate)
OFD Office for Diversity
OGR Office of Government Relations
OLA Office for Library Advocacy
OLOS Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
ORS Office for Research & Statistics
PLA Public Library Association
PPO Public Programs Office
PRMS Public Relations and Marketing Section (LAMA)
SAA Society of American Archivists
SASS Systems & Services Section (LAMA)
SLMR School Library Media Research (online division publication)
SORT Staff Organizations Round Table
SRRT Social Responsibilities Round Table
TESLA Technical Standards for Library Automation
ULC Urban Libraries Council
VRT Video Round Table
WAI Web Accessibility Initiative
WHCLIS White House Conference on Library & Information Services
WO Washington Office

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