History of AACRL

The Alabama Association of College and Research Libraries is one of 42 state and regional chapters of the Association of College and Research Libraries, itself a division of the American Library Association. AACRL is a professional association of academic librarians and others interested in improving the ability of academic librarians and information professionals to serve the information needs of the higher education community and to improve learning, teaching and research.

AACRL serves the needs of a variety of academic institutions including four-year colleges and universities, two-year community colleges, technical colleges, and other research institutions.

In 1986 the College, University, and Special Libraries (CUS) division of the Alabama Library Association voted to establish an Alabama chapter of the national ACRL. Dr. Sue Medina, Director of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL) and also CUS Member-at-Large, took steps to implement this plan. She convened an organizational meeting (with Heleni Pedersoli and Barbara Dekle) at the Hoover Public Library on November 14, 1986 at which those present read proposed bylaws and nominated and then elected a slate of officers. The new organization was known as the Alabama Association of College and Research Librarians and held its first Executive Board meeting on May 29, 1987. AACRL’s first Executive Board consisted of Chair Brantley Parsley (Mobile College), Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect Lee Ketcham (Samford University), Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Dekle (Auburn University in Montgomery), and Member-at-Large Martha Merrill (Jacksonville State University).

A tradition of cooperation and overlapping membership between AACRL and the CUS (College, University, and Special Libraries) division of the Alabama Library Association continues to the present. Until proposed changes to the bylaws were made at the April 30, 1992 AACRL annual business meeting, AACRL members were required to also be members of CUS. The Association of College and Research Librarians changed its name to the Association of College and Research Libraries on this date. While no longer requiring AACRL members to also be members of CUS, the two groups still have close ties and occasionally join together in organizing workshops and annual meeting programs. Ever since the Spring of 1990, AACRL has published a quarterly newsletter. Barbara Bishop of Auburn University was the first editor.

AACRL has hosted a number of workshops and annual programs over the years, starting with “Library Accreditation in the Next Decade” on April 3, 1987 (before even holding its first Executive Board meeting). AACRL normally hosts a professional workshop every other year and a special guest speaker every year at the annual business meeting/dinner that is scheduled to coincide with the annual convention of the Alabama Library Association. Ever since 1995, Craig Beard of the University of Alabama in Birmingham has maintained the AACRL listserv (send message “Subscribe AACRL” to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UAB.EDU).

As early as 1987 the national ACRL expressed an interest in getting state and regional chapters to either merge with their state or regional library association or to incorporate as separate non-profit organizations. The purpose of this directive was to ensure that, in the unlikely event someone decided to bring a lawsuit against a state or regional chapter, the national ACRL would be protected. However, pressure to merge or incorporate was not really brought to bear until around 1996 when the deadline of December 31, 2000 was set. The AACRL Executive Board investigated the options and the membership voted in 1999 to incorporate as a separate non-profit organization not affiliated with Alabama Library Association. The Executive Board took action over the next two years to fulfill the mandate set by the national ACRL and the Alabama chapter (AACRL) was officially incorporated on October 23, 2000. Federal tax-exempt status as a Section 501 ( c ) (6) organization was officially recognized by the Internal Revenue Service on September 17, 2001 and state tax-exempt status was recognized by the Alabama Department of Revenue on November 9, 2001.