“What is the Illinois Library Association?” by S.M. O’Connor

The Illinois Library Association (I.L.A.) is a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Chicago.[1]  It is an educational organization.  The third-largest state library association in North America, the I.L.A. is also a chapter of the American Library Association (A.L.A.).  Its motto is “Because Libraries Matter.”  There are two kinds of members in the I.L.A.: organizations and individual people. The members include public, academic, school, and special libraries; library vendors; librarians; library assistants; trustees; and students.

The Western Library Association was a predecessor to the Illinois Library Association.  It had only two meetings, in 1881 and 1884, and it ceased to exist in 1885.  Dr. William Frederick Poole (1821-1894), the first Librarian of both the Chicago Public Library (1874-1887) and The Newberry Library (1887-1894), was the first President of the Western Library Association.

The Illinois Library Association was founded as such in 1896.  The impetus was the examination of the proposal that an Illinois State Library Association should be formed at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Library Club on October 25, 1892 after the idea had been suggested at a previous meeting of the whole club.  The members of the executive committee were the aforementioned W.F. Poole, Frederick H. Hild, C.C. Pickett, G. E. Wirl, and Lydia A. Dexter.  Frederick H. Hild had succeeded Poole as the second Librarian of the Chicago Public Library, a post which he held from 1887 to 1909, and it was he who was in charge when the Chicago Public Library, now the Chicago Cultural Center, opened in 1897.  They signed a letter dated November 5, 1892 calling for the establishment of the Illinois State Library Association and mailed it to 150 libraries located in Illinois.  They noted that such organizations already existed in “New Hampshire, New York, Iowa, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan” and elsewhere.  Recipients of the letter were asked to contact Dr. G. E. Wire, Secretary of the Chicago Library Club, at The Newberry Library, and inform him (a) if he or she approved of the proposal, and (b) if the organization was formed if he or she would join it.

The Chicago Library Club received thirty replies, all of them favorable, but no steps were taken to execute the plan for four years.  The matter finally came up again at a meeting held on January 2, 1896, and another call went out to librarians.  This time, a meeting was held to actually form the Illinois State Library Association in Springfield on January 23, 1896.  The next year, the Illinois State Library Association undertook the task of collecting statistics on all the libraries in Illinois, and the Chicago Library Club formed a committee to provide assistance, but the work proceeded slowly, and was eventually assumed by the Library of the University of Illinois.

The I.L.A. produces products for libraries, organizes workshops and conferences for librarians, and represents the state’s libraries in Springfield. Each October, it holds an annual conference that includes programs for librarians as well as vendor exhibitions. It has twelve committees and ten forums that provide librarians with leadership opportunities and address the interests of public, academic, special, and school libraries.  The bi-monthly newsletter, ILA Reporter, is free to members.  The I.L.A. also publishes Illinois Library Laws & Rules, Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries, Trustee Facts Files, and The Internet and Our Children.

The I.L.A. was one of the organizations that advocated the introduction of the Library Services & Construction Act (L.S.C.A.) of 1962 that provided federal funds for the construction of new libraries administered by the Illinois State Library, superseded by the Library Services and Technology Act (L.S.T.A.) of 1995, which provides money for technological infrastructure.  The new law changed focus from the construction of libraries to the installation of technological infrastructure in existent libraries and changed the agency that makes the grants from the Department of Education to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (I.M.L.S.).

The I.L.A. sponsored the study that created Illinois regional library systems.  According to its Web site, it opposed “the proposed establishment of 102 individual county obscenity standards and fought to retain the current statewide standard” and “fought for Illinois General Assembly legislative information to be made available to the public through the World Wide Web.” In 1999, the Illinois Press Association presented the I.L.A. the “Legislative Service Award for outstanding commitment to the protection of free speech and free press issues.”

The headquarters of the I.L.A. is on Grand Avenue in Chicago.  As of the publication of the 2010 Handbook of Organization & Membership Directory, the I.L.A. had three full-time employees, an operating budget of nearly $1,000,000 and net assets of about $350,000.  The I.R.S. recognizes it as a 501 (c) (3) charitable and educational organization.

The I.L.A. had 3,047 members as of June 30, 2009.  The three categories of membership are: personal (individual professional librarians, library paraprofessionals, and library trustees), institutional (libraries of various types), and associate members (companies that do business with libraries).  To put the number of I.L.A. members in perspective, there were about 637 public libraries in Illinois, of which 391 (61%) belonged to the I.L.A.  Membership dues for public libraries are based on the number of residents in a municipality or district served by a given library.  There were about 187 academic (college and university) libraries in Illinois, of which eighty (43%) belonged to the I.L.A. Academic libraries are also served by the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries (I.A.C.R.L.).  There are approximately 2,417 elementary and secondary school libraries or school district libraries in Illinois and fourteen 14 or .6% belonged to the I.L.A. In Illinois, there is a separate association for school librarians, the Illinois School Library Media Association.[2]  There were about 561 special libraries in Illinois, of which eighteen (3%) belonged to the I.L.A. In Illinois, there is a separate association for special librarians, the Illinois Chapter of the Special Libraries Association.  Special libraries include research libraries, medical libraries, and law libraries.  Those special libraries which are research libraries are also served by the I.A.C.R.L.  With regard to personal members, as of June 30, 2009, there were 4,431 librarians in Illinois, 1,463 (33%) of whom belonged to the ILA; about 4,800 library trustees in Illinois, 598 (12%) of whom belonged to the I.L.A.; and 1,064 students enrolled in A.L.A.-accredited M.L.I.S. programs in Illinois, 13% of whom belonged to the I.L.A.  Many of the I.L.A.’s 134 student members, though, were high school students.

As of June 30, 2009, in Illinois there were 4,615 members of the A.L.A., which is headquartered in Chicago and also has offices in Middletown, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.  The A.L.A. employed 250 people in Chicago, of whom seven (3%) belonged to the I.L.A.

Personal membership dues are based on salary or membership category (such as trustee or student). Of personal members, as of June, 2009, the I.L.A. had thirty-three who made $10,000 per year or less; another thirty-three who made in the range of $10,001 to $14,000; twenty-one who made in the range of $14,001 to $18,000; seventy-nine who made in the range of $18,001 to $25,000; 180 who made in the range of $25,001 to $35,000; 324 who made in the range of $35,001 to $45,000; 292 who made in the range of $45,001 to $55,000; 215 who made in the range of $55,001 to $65,000; 104 who made in the range of $65,001 to $75,000;  sixty-five who made in the range of $75,001 to $85,000; forty who made in the range of $85,001 to $95,000;  thirty-three who made in the range of $95,001 to $105,000; thirty-seven who made in the range of $105,001 to $115,000; two who made in the $115,001 to $125,000; three who made in the range of $125,001 to $135,000; and three who made $135,001or more per year.  About 80% of I.L.A. personal members pay membership dues in the salary ranges under $65,001.

There were fifty-one associate members of the I.L.A. as of June 30, 2009.  For associate members of the I.L.A., benefits include discounts on advertising, exhibition space, advance booth selection, and special recognition at I.L.A. conferences and events.

The I.L.A. had approximately 2,916 members as of June 30, 2016, according to the 2016-2017 Handbook of Organization, of which 2,334 were people, 518 were institutions, and sixty-four were associate members.  The I.L.A. had four full-time employees, an operating budget of $3,000,000, and net assets of $1,700,000.  There were 5,740 librarians in Illinois, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages reported published in May of 2015.  As of June 30, 2016, 1,284 of these Illinois librarians or 22% belonged to the I.L.A., 76% of whom paid dues in the salary range under $65,001. A total of 1,284 members were librarians who belonged to Personal Membership Categories.  Thirty members were librarians who made under $10,000 annually, nineteen made between $10,001 and $14,000, twenty-two made between $14,001 and $18,000, forty-two made between $18,001 and $25,000, 116 made between $25,001 and $35,000, 283 made between $35,001 and $45,000, 277 made between $45,001 and $55,000, 188 made between $55,001 and $65,000, 103 made between $65,001 and $75,000, seventy made between $75,001 and $85,000, forty-five made between $85,001 and $95,000, thirty-five made between $95,001 and $105,000, twenty-five made between $105,001 and $115,000, twelve made between $115,001 and $125,000, five made between $125,001 and $135,000, and twelve made $135,001 or over.  A total of 1,050 members belonged to Flat Rate Personal Membership Categories, of whom 536 were trustees, twenty-five belonged to the Friend of the I.L.A. category, 189 were students, 166 were retired, 110 were paraprofessionals, twenty-one were unemployed librarians, eleven were lifetime members, and forty-two were I.L.A. co-members.  According to the Illinois State Library’s Library Development Group, there were 4,661 library trustees in Illinois, of whom 536 (11%) belonged to the I.L.A.  There were 694 students in A.L.A.-accredited Masters in Library and Information Science programs and 189 student members of the I.L.A., but that does not mean 27% belonged to the I.L.A. because some of the student-members were high school students.  The A.L.A. has 219 employees in Chicago, of whom seven (3%) belong to the A.L.A.

There are 639 public libraries in Illinois (342 district libraries, 159 city libraries, ninety-two village libraries, forty-two township libraries, and four town libraries), of which 429 (67%) are institutional members.  Sixteen member libraries serve a population of 1,000 people or less, 102 serve between 1,001 and 2,500 people, seventy-nine serve between 2,501 and 5,500 people, seventy-one serve between 5,501 and 12,500 people, forty-seven serve 12,501 and 20,000 people, seventy-one serve between 20,001 and 45,000 people, twenty-eight serve between 45,001 and 80,000, eight serve between 80,001 and 125,000 people, three serve between 125,001 and 150,000 people, one serves between 150,001 and 250,000 people, one serves between 250,001 and 500,000 people, and two serve over 2,000,000 people.

Out of 169 academic (university and college) libraries, sixty-four (38%) belong to the I.L.A.  Of the 785 K-12 school districts in Illinois with at least one school library, eleven (1%) belong to the I.L.A.  There are 229 special libraries in Illinois, of which fourteen (6%) belong to the I.L.A.  In addition, there are sixty-four commercial firms that exhibit at I.L.A. Annual Conferences that pay a flat rate of $100 to be Associate Members.

The I.L.A. has a number of standing committees.  These are the Advocacy Committee, which implements the I.L.S.’s legislative agenda; the Awards Committee; the Best Practices Committee; the Conference Program Committee; the Diversity Committee; the Finance Committee; the Fundraising Committee; the ILA Reporter Advisory Committee, the Intellectual Freedom Committee; the iREAD Committee; the Nominating Committee; and the Public Policy Committee (P.P.C.). The iREAD Committee oversees the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development program.  The Nominating Committee works up a slate of candidates for the I.L.A.’s Executive Board.  Not all these committees have entirely self-explanatory names.  The P.P.C. “recommends studies on projects designed to advance the development of all types of libraries” and “advocates legislative action which advances library service for all residents of Illinois.”  

Most I.L.A. presidents have held office for a single year, but early on in the organization’s history it was common to hold the office for two or three years.  The first few presidents of the I.L.A. were Thomas H. Nelson (1896), Colonel J. W. Thompson (1897-1899), E. S. Willcox (1900-1901), Anderson H. Hopkins (1902-1903), Katherine L. Sharp (1904), Carl B. Roden (1905), and Mary B. Lindsay (1906).  In 1907, there were three presidents: C. J. Barr, H. C. Remann, and Ange V. Milner.  After that, Mary Eileen Ahern served as president in 1908, 1909, and 1915.  Between 1910 and 1914, the presidents of the I.L.S. were Nellie E. Parham (1910), Henry E. Legler (1911), J. C. M. Hanson (1912), Phineas L. Windsor (1913), and F. K. W. Drury (1914).  Windsor would hold office again in 1935.  In 1916, Mary J. Booth served as president.  The following year was another with more than one president with C. J. Barr and Effie A. Lansden holding office.  Effie A. Landsen would hold office again in 1921.  Jane P. Hubbell served as president in 1918 and 1919, while Harriet M. Skogh served as president in 1926 and 1927.  In the intervening years, the presidency was held by Helen A. Bagley (1920), John S. Cleavinger (1922), Ida F. Wright (1923), Adah F. Whitcomb (1924), and George B. Utley (1925).

Between 1928 and 1934, the presidency was held by Lucy Wilson Errett (1928), Earl W. Browning (1929), Michael Gallagher (1930), Alice William (1931), Emily V. D. Miller (1932), Winifred Ver Nooy (1933), and Anna May Price (1934).  Between 1936 and 1951, the presidency was held by Sue Osmotherly (1936), William F. Baehr (1937), Earl W. Browning (1938), Katherine L. Arzinger (1939), Nathan R. Levin (1940), Emily Minter (1941), Arnold H. Trotier (1942), Dorothy E. Hiatt (1943), Pearl I. Field (1944), Sarah S. Molony (1945), Andrew B. Lemke (1946), Alice Lohrer (1947), Ruth W. Gregory (1948),  Eleanor Plain (1949), Ruth A. Hardin (1950), and Andre S. Nielsen (1951).  In 1952, there were two presidents: Gertrude Gscheidle and Eleanor Welch.  Gertrude Gscheidle was Librarian of the Chicago Public Library was 1950 to 1967.

Subsequently, the presidents of the I.L.A. have been Eleanor Plain (1953), Mildred L. Nickel (1954), Marguerite Giezentanner (1955), Robert B. Downs (1956), Ralph E. McCoy (1957), Miriam H. Johnson (1958), Alex Ladesnon (1959), Miriam Peterson (1960), Elizabeth O. Stone (1961), Phyllis Maggeroli (1962), William Bryan (1963), Lucien White (1964), Charles DeYoung (1965), Julius Chitwood (1966), Harold Goldstein (1967), Harold Rath (1968), Mary Ann Swanson (1969), de Lafayette Reid (1970), Joe W. Kraus (1971), Donald E. Wright (1972), Peter Bury (1973), Margaret Dees (1974), Alice Ihrig (1975), Edna Holland (1976), Melvin George (1977), Frank J. Dempsey (1978), Dawn Heller (1979), Betty Simpson (1980), Robert McClarren (1981), Clayton Highum (1982), Judy Drescher (1983), Valerie J. Wilford (1984), Harold Hungerford (1985), Robert Plotzke (1986), Carla Funk (1987), Marlene Deuel (1988), Fred Peterson (1989), Estelle Black (1990), Brent Crossland (1991), Randy Wilson (1992), Jay Wozny (1993), Lee A. Logan (1994), Sue Stroyan (1995), Ruth E. Faklis (1996), Kathleen M. Balcom (1997), Pamela Gaitskill (1998), Carolyn Anthony (1999), Denise Zielinski (2000), Arthur P. Young (2001), Sylvia Murphy Williams (2002), Nancy M. Gillfillan (2003), Allen Lanham (2004), Dianne Harmon (2005), Tamiye Meehan (2006), Bradley F. Baker (2007), Donna Dziedzic (2008), Carole A. Medal (2009), and Gail Bush (2010).

More recently, Lynn Elam, then-Director of the Algonquin Area Public Library District, was President of the I.L.A. (2011).  Pamela Van Kirk, then-Director of the Galsburg Public Library, was President of the I.L.A. (2012).  Su Erickson, Librarian of Robert Morris University, was President of the I.L.A. (2013).  Jeannie Dilger, then-Library Director of the La Grange Public Library (and now Executive Director of the Palatine Public Library District) was President of the I.L.A. (2014).  Betsy Adamowski, Executive Library Director of the Wheaton Public Library, was President of the I.L.A. (2015). Pattie Piotrowski, then-Assistant Dean for Public Services at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Galvin Library (and now University Librarian, Dean of Library Instructional Services at the University of Illinois Springfield), was President of the I.L.A. (2016).  Melissa Gardner, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Palatine Public Library District, was President of the I.L.A. (2017).  Cynthia Fuerst, Director of the Vernon Area Public Library District, is the President of the I.L.A. (2018). 

James A. Harvey was Executive Secretary of the I.L.A. from 1973 to ’75.  John R. Coyne was Executive Secretary of the I.L.A. from 1976 to ’78.  Alfred L. Woods was Executive Secretary of the I.L.A. from 1979 to 1980.  Thereafter, the post of executive director replaced the post of executive secretary.  Judith C. Burnison was the first Executive Director of the I.L.A.  She served from 1981 to ’82.  Willine C. Mahony was Executive Director from 1983 to ‘89.  James Steenbergen was Acting Executive Director of the I.L.A. in 1989.  Barbara Manchak Cunningham was Executive Director from 1990 to ‘93 and Jane E. Getty was Executive Director from 1993 to ‘95.

The aforementioned Donna Dziedzic was Interim Executive Director of the I.L.A. in 1995.  Ms. Dziedzic was Executive Director of the Naperville Public Library from May of 1996 to June of 2011.  Subsequently, she served as Interim Director of the Evanston Public Library in 2011.  She was also the Board President of the DuPage Library System at the time of its merger with four other Illinois Regional Library Systems to form the Reaching Across Illinois Library System in 2011.  She had earned her B.A. at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island and her M.S.L.I.S. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Robert P. Doyle was Executive Director of the I.L.A. from 1996 to November of 2017. Previously, he was Director of the International Relations Office of the A.L.A. from 1986 to 1996.  Before that, he was IFLA ’85 Coordinator for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions from 1984 to ’86.  Mr. Doyle was Assistant to the Director in the A.L.A.’s Office of Intellectual Freedom from 1980 to 1984.  He was Reference Supervisor of the Oak Lawn Public Library from 1980 to 1984.  Doyle earned his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame and his M.L.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In November of 2017, Diane Foote became Executive Director of the I.L.A.  Previously, she held three successive posts at the School of Information Services of Dominican University (formerly Rosary College).  Briefly, she served as Curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University from June to November of 2017.  She served as Assistant Dean and Curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center from July of 2015 to June of 2017.  Before that, she was Assistant Dean of the Dominican University School of Information Services from November of 2011 to July of 2015.  She earned her B.A. at Colgate University and her Master of Science in Library & Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Cynthia M. Robinson is the Deputy Director of the I.L.A.  Formerly, she was Conference & Continuing Education Manager.  Tina Koleva is the Membership and Product Services Manager.  Linda Bostrom is the Administrative Coordinator.  Kristy M. Mangel, was the Member Services Coordinator from 2000 to 2011, and now works at the University at Buffalo – The State University of New York. Jon Daniels, the Accountant in 2011, was the Controller at the time the 2014-2015 I.L.A. Handbook of Organization and Membership Directory was published.

On the Mission Statement page of the I.L.A.’s 2010 Handbook of Organization & Membership Directory, under the heading “Advocating for the Public Interest,” the I.L.A. stated it will “develop and promote strong public policy related to libraries, literacy, and lifelong learning; defend intellectual freedom and access to information; and increase public awareness of the value of libraries to society.”  This statement was repeated in the 2014-2015 edition.  Under the heading “Promoting Excellence and Innovation” the I.L.A. states it will “provide outstanding programs of continuing education and leadership development; support the recruitment, retention, and professional development of a culturally and racially diverse workforce for libraries; produce high quality publications and communications; and celebrate the achievement of excellence and innovation on behalf of the membership.”  Under the heading “Managing the Present to Prepare for the Future,” the ILA states “In order to achieve these goals, ILA will use its resources wisely and maintain a flexible structure that promotes the diverse interests and broad participation of members.”  These statements were also repeated in the 2014-2015 edition.

The I.L.A. is governed by a sixteen-member executive board.  Carole A. Medal, Executive Director of the Gail Borden Public Library District, is President of the Executive Board with a term of 2008-2011.  Gail Bush, Professor and Director of National-Louis University’s Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, is the Vice President/President-Elect with a term of 2009-2012. Theodore C. Schwitzner, Head of Content Management & Scholarly Resources of Illinois State University’s Milner Library is Treasurer with a term of 2008-2011.

I.L.A. Annual Conferences have been held in Chicago in November of 1896, April of 1903, December of 1913, October of 1922, October of 1933, November of 1937, October of 1940, October of 1942, November of 1947, October of 1951, November of 1953, October of 1955, November of 1957, November of 1959, October of 1961, October of 1965, October of 1968, October of 1970, November of 1971, October of 1972, December of 1975, November of 1976, October of 1978, November of 1980, October of 1982, May of 1984, 1986, May of 1988, May of 1991, March of 1992, March of 1994, October of 1998, October of 1999, September of 2002, September and October of 2004, October of 2006, September of 2008, and September and October of 2010.  Note the 1903 Annual Conference was held at The University of Chicago.  In the wartime years of 1943, ’44, and ’45, the I.L.A. did not hold Annual Conferences, but did hold business meetings, all of which took place in Chicago.

I.L.A. Annual Conferences have been held in Springfield in January of 1896, January of 1897, May of 1906, October of 1914, October of 1920, October of 1932, October of 1938, October of 1941, October of 1946, November of 1948, October of 1952, November of 1954, October of 1962, October of 1974, October of 1977, May of 1985, April of 1987, May of 1990, April and May of 1993, October of 1997, October of 2001, October of 2003, October of 2007, and October of 2014.  They have been held in Peoria in May of 1897, October of 1918, October of 1919, September of 1923, October of 1931, October of 1936, October of 1939, October of 1950, 1956, October of 1964, October of 1969, May of 1995, October of 2000, October of 2005, October of 2009, October of 2012, and October of 2015.  Note that the 1918 Annual Conference was postponed due to the outbreak of the influenza pandemic that killed more people than the First Great World War.  The I.L.A. Annual Conference has also been held in Evanston (1898); Champaign-Urbana (1899, 1915, 1921, 1929); East St. Louis (1900, 1909); Lincoln (1901); Quincy (1902); Decatur (1904, 1917, 1934); Rockford (1905, 1925, 1935, 1958, 1966); Bloomington (1907, 1924); Galesburg (1908); Rock Island (1910); Joliet (1911, 1927); Ottawa (1916); Mount Vernon (1926); Danville (1928); Moline (1930); Aurora (1963); Rosemont (1973, 2011, 2016); and St. Charles (1989).  Note that the Annual Conferences in 1915, 1921, and 1929 were held at the University of Illinois.

On five occasions, I.L.A. Annual Conferences have been held out of state.  They were held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1912 and 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1967 and 1979, and in Grand Rapids Michigan in 1949.  The 1949 Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the 1949 Midwest Regional Conference of the A.L.A. business meeting held on November 10th, the 1960 Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the Missouri Library Association, and the 1979 Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the Midwest Federation of Library Associations.  The ILA held no Annual Conferences in 1981 or ’83.

The address of the Illinois Library Association is 33 West Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Chicago, Illinois 60654-6799.  The phone number is (312) 644-1896.  The I.L.A. Website is https://www.ila.org/ and the iRead Website is https://www.ireadprogram.org/.





[1] This is a revision and expansion of a two-part article I posted on Examiner.com in 2011.

[2] Note that twice on p. 83 of the ILA 2010 Handbook of Organization & Membership Directory, the I.L.A. states that eleven school libraries (rather than fourteen) belonged to the I.L.A.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close