ACRL Washington logo with white font over green tree icons and blue horizontal lines.ACRL-Washington

A chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries

ACRL-Washington and Washington Library Association 

March 2020 Special Election

We held a special election from March 4-18 to determine how to proceed with our relationship with Washington Library Association. The link to vote was emailed to members on March 4. We sent reminder emails inviting members to vote on March 11 and March 18. We asked members, "Should ACRL-Washington pursue a merger with Washington Library Association?" 

The results of the vote are as follows.

  • 48 current members voted (out of 94 members total).
  • 41 voted in affirmative ("Yes, ACRL-WA should move forward with merger with WLA").
  • 7 voted in negative ("No, ACRL-WA should not move forward with merger with WLA").

Next Steps

Based on these results, the following steps will be taken:

  • ACRL-WA Board will reach out to WLA-Academic Library Division (ALD) leadership to begin next steps in merger process, including scheduling a series of meetings to discuss logistics.
  • ACRL-WA Board elections will not happen this year. 
  • Current ACRL-WA Board members will continue to serve to assist in merger process. 
  • As we know more about leadership structure and future election cycles, we will communicate that information to the ACRL-WA community.

FAQ & Background Information

The following information has been published on our website since Fall 2019. This includes background information about the relationship between the Washington Library Association (WLA) and the ACRL-Washington chapter. This document also provides information about ACRL-Oregon and the organizational structure of the Oregon Library Association (OLA). 

Should we have a membership vote in Spring 2020 to determine whether or not to re-organize as a division or section within the Washington Library Association?

Related proposal: ACRL-WA should merge with WLA in a way that they become the Academic Library Division for WLA, similarly to how ACRL-OR is the Academic Library Division for OLA. 

Glossary of Terms

Washington Library Association (WLA)

Membership size: 1,322 (as of October 18, 2019)

Oregon Library Association (OLA)

Membership size: 1,000+


Members of WLA may join Divisions ($10 each after the first, which is free) based on their professional area. Each Division has its own email list. 

WLA has 4 divisions:

  • Academic

  • Public

  • School

  • Special 

In contrast, OLA is organized a bit differently. OLA has 6 divisions:

  • Academic/ACRL-Oregon

  • Children’s Services

  • Oregon Association of School Librarians

  • Oregon Young Adult Network

  • Public Library

  • Support Staff


WLA members can join any interest-based section for free.

WLA Sections:

  • CATS – Collection Development & Technical Services

  • CAYAS – Children’s and Young Adult Services

  • CLAWS – College Libraries Across Washington State

  • IFS – Intellectual Freedom Section

  • LIFE – Leadership is For Everyone

  • LISS – Library & Information Student Section

  • SAIL – Serving Adults in Libraries

  • SRRT – Social Responsibilities

  • WALE – WA Library Employees

  • WALT – WA Library Trainers

  • WLFFTA – WA Library Friends, Foundations, Trustees, and Advocates

OLA is a little different. They don’t have Sections; instead, they have Round Tables. They also have Committees and Task Forces for sharing organizational work. You can find a full list of Round Tables on the OLA website.

Academic Library Division (ALD)

  • One of the four Divisions of WLA. 

  • WLA-ALD has 314 members as of July 10, 2019.

College Librarians Around Washington State (CLAWS)

  • A Section of WLA. 

  • Membership size: WLA-CLAWS has 100 members as of July 10, 2019.

College Librarians And Media Specialists of Washington State (CLAMS)

  • CLAMS was dissolved in 2019 and merged with WLA, becoming CLAWS: College Librarians Across Washington State.

  • CLAMS maintains a listserv open to all, but primarily intended to serve librarians at community/technical colleges in Washington.

  • CLAWS is a Section and has no additional cost to join for WLA members. 


  • The Oregon State Chapter of the Association of College & Research Libraries. ACRL-Oregon serves a dual role as the Oregon chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) as well as the Academic Library Division of the Oregon Library Association (OLA). 

  • ACRL-OR began in 1975 and became ALD of OLA in approximately 1989.

  • Membership size: Approximately 120 active members + another 90 “lapsed” members as of August 2019.


  • ACRL-WA is the Washington State Chapter of the Association of College & Research Libraries. It began in 1980 and has been an independent organization ever since. It is not part of WLA.

  • Members are not required to be a member of ACRL National in order to be a member of the state chapter.

  • Membership size: 95 active members as of October 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions

Membership Benefits

What are the membership benefits of ACRL-Washington?

  • Member rate to the ACRL WA/OR joint conference hosted in Washington, every other year (usually a $10 discount off the non-member rate). 

  • Bi-annual (Fall and Spring) newsletter delivered straight to your email inbox. (Newsletter is also freely available on our website, and is delivered to non-member contacts of our organization as well). 

  • Leadership opportunities - the ability to serve on the ACRL-Washington Board.

  • Networking at conferences and events.

  • Access to select ACRL National webinars.

What are the membership benefits of WLA?

  • Member rates – Get discounted rates for WLA conferences and workshops.

  • WLA Wednesday – Receive a weekly e-newsletter of library news and professional development.

  • Alki – WLA’s thrice yearly journal includes articles and stories from library staff all across the state. Alki started in 1983 as a print journal and went online-only in 2012.

  • Divisions and Sections – Get access to Divisions and interest-based Sections that provide focused email lists and events for the sharing of professional information and resources statewide and across different kinds of libraries.

  • Leadership opportunities – Serve on or chair statewide committees and task forces, plan events and conferences, present programs, hold WLA Board or steering leadership positions, and more.

  • Library advocacy – Benefit from the support and advocacy work of WLA’s legislative liaison representing the interests of all of Washington libraries, and attend the annual Washington Library Legislative Day.

  • Networking – Make new connections within the state’s library community and meet library staff from different types of libraries.

  • Continuing education – In addition to the professional development above, WLA conducts a biannual continuing education needs assessment in partnership with the Washington State Library.

Membership Costs

How much does it cost to be a member of ACRL-Washington?

  • Annual dues are $10 for those who are already ACRL National members, and $15 for those who want to join ACRL-Washington (state chapter) only. 

  • To join ACRL National costs $68 per year plus $148 per year for ALA membership. These memberships aren’t necessary unless running for or in the position of ACRL-WA President-Elect / President.

How much does it cost to be a member of WLA?

  • Membership dues are on a sliding scale based on income, ranging from $20 to $150

  • Students, retired, and unemployed members pay $20 annually.

  • Someone earning $50,100 - $60,000 annual salary pays $75 annually. 

  • Dues are paid on the honor system, ultimately, and are a “pay what you can” model. You can pay the $20 minimum if that is all you can afford, regardless of income.

  • The first division membership is free; joining additional divisions are $10 each. 

  • Sections are free.

Organizational Functions

Would we still be autonomous? Would ACRL-Washington still have its own elections, bylaws, Board of Directors, etc.?

We would continue to be able to do everything we are currently doing now as a separate entity, but with much more support. We would continue to have a working board of directors, could establish our own bylaws within the Association’s umbrella of existing bylaws, and would elect members much as we do now, though through the larger WLA elections process. 

How would ACRL-Washington be funded? Would we receive a portion of membership dues from WLA, or the Division fees ($10 per person)?

WLA Divisions receive a flat $500 allotment (sections receive $200) which renews (but does not accrue) every year. Expenditures above and beyond that allotment are absolutely possible. That process starts with a proposal to WLA management, who helps work out details, and is then voted on by the WLA Board. Examples of this include WLA’s recent Awards Ceremony, upcoming Virtual Conference in January 2020, and the Academic Libraries one-day conference coming up in March 2020. 

Overview of Differences


 ACRL-WA Independent

 ACRL-WA within WLA

 Relationship to ACRL National

  ACRL-WA is a chapter of ACRL National   ACRL-WA could remain a chapter of ACRL National


 Maintains a board of 9 members with roles of: president, past president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer, members-at-large, web manager, communications manager

 -WLA has section and division chairs, with steering committees

-WLA staff take care of treasurer, secretary, and web management roles

- Are willing to entertain a larger steering committee or additional roles


 -ACRL-WA board is responsible for logistics planning for the bi-annual conference

-Conferences are priced low at $155. However, it’s not a sustainable price and ACRL-WA does not break even or make money.  

 -WLA staff manage conference logistics and planning -ACRL-WA would maintain autonomy over conference theme selection 


 -ACRL-WA is an autonomous financial entity; Responsible for making payments and intake of dues; Pays for website/member management software

-Responsible for finding funds for anything outside our budget

-Keeps any profit (historically, we don’t make a profit)

  -WLA would manage financials; Responsible for making payments and intake of dues

-WLA sections/divisions receive some funds annually and support conferences; requests for funding are reviewed by the WLA board

-Profits would be shared with WLA

 Membership Dues

 - Currently at $15, or $10 if you belong to ACRL National
 -WLA is on a sliding scale based on income and/or what you can afford. Lowest is $20, high is $90

 Tangible Benefits

 -Discount in attending ACRL-WA Conference -Webinar(s) through ACRL affiliation 

-Newsletter (open to members and non-members)

 -Discount in attending WLA conferences and workshops -Access to WLA divisions and sections (more than ACLR-WA) -Legislative liaison advocate representing all libraries -Allows for institutional membership

-WLA Wednesday newsletter


Has this been discussed in the past? What were the pro/con arguments in past discussions?

Overall, past discussions about ACRL-Washington joining WLA have focused on…

  • Membership composition. In the past, there was the impression that academic librarians were not a significant part of WLA. 

  • Cost of membership dues. ACRL-Washington membership has always been cheaper than WLA membership. Maintaining independence allows ACRL-Washington to stay affordable to members. WLA membership is cheaper, however, than a combined ALA/ACRL and chapter membership, which is particularly important for anyone who ever wants to serve in a leadership capacity. Also, some people are currently members in both associations and merging would save those individuals money as well. WLA has also revamped their institutional / organizational memberships, which would likely make a great deal of sense, particularly for smaller academic institutions. 

Discussion in 1999

  • The issue of whether or not to join WLA was a major topic of discussion at the October 1999 Membership Meeting at Pack Forest. 

  • Due to requirements from ACRL National, the chapter had to decide whether to become part of WLA or independently incorporate (due to liability concerns) by the end of 2000. 

  • According to the meeting minutes, Gary Menges (Member-at-Large) was in favor of incorporating independently. 

  • Gary’s points in favor of being independent:

  • In contrast to some states, Gary indicated that currently, as well as at that time, very few academic librarians belong to the state association. (In 1980 only about 15% of the Washington National ACRL members were members of WLA. All National ACRL members are automatically members of the Chapter, but only 26 of the 194 current National ACRL members are also WLA members). 

  • He believes this is primarily due to the cost of dues and the impression that WLA doesn’t serve the academic community very well. 

  • Marie Zimmermann (Past-President) supported becoming an interest group of WLA.

  • Marie’s points in favor of being part of WLA:

  • She believes strongly that academic librarians have a professional responsibility to participate in the association that supports their profession. 

  • One of the main avenues of support that WLA provides that is important is the WLA legislative lobbyist who is funded through personal dues. 

  • WLA is also a public relations tool for the profession and Marie believes it’s important as a professional to participate in the larger organization that represents the profession as a whole. 

  • You can read the meeting minutes in full on our chapter website.

Discussion in 2010

  • The topic of WLA & ACRL-WA Relations was a significant discussion at the 2010 Membership Meeting at Menucha in Oregon. From the meeting minutes:

    • WLA President Tim Mallory spoke to the members about expanding ACRL-WA/WLA relations. 

    • Negatives included simple inertia (ACRL-WA has never been affiliated with WLA)), a perceived ‘chicken and egg’ lack of WLA interest in academic presentations and a corresponding lack of interest from academic librarians in attending WLA conferences, and the more expensive nature of WLA (.15% of salary, which is $60 to $75 per year for librarians making $40,000 to $50,000, compared to ACRL-WA’s $5 or $10 per year). 

    • Tim talked about WLA legislative actions which protected academic libraries, the variety of relations they have with other library associations, and their upcoming joint WLA/PNLA conference in Victoria, BC. Possible ways of working together included board members attending each other’s meetings, website collocation, and ACRL-WA Legislative Coordinator cooperation with WLA.

  • You can read the meeting minutes in full on our chapter website.

What are the potential advantages to becoming part of WLA?

Individual WLA Membership Benefits

Organizational WLA Membership Benefits

In addition

  • ACRL-WA would not retain their current legal status as an organization, but they could retain their organizational identity, and wouldn't need to sacrifice the vital community that they've built over the years. At the same time, they would gain sustainability in programming and could even offer more than a biennial conference, in addition to taking advantage of ALD and broader WLA programming. 

  • Involvement in WLA expands their network significantly, providing more opportunities to interact with professionals from other types of libraries and work, in addition to their involvement in ALD. Furthermore, their involvement in ALD would be part of the ongoing groundwork of establishing a more significant presence and involvement of academic library workers in WLA.  

  • The legislative advocacy work that WLA supports and guides doesn't seem to garner a lot of attention from academic folks, but the impact can't be understated, and does benefit academic libraries. WLA's legislative agenda and work includes attention to academic libraries, and has a significant impact on other matters that we all care about such as broadband access, intellectual freedom, funding for public and school libraries, etc. They may be aware of ACRL national's federal legislative agenda, but WLA's agenda also has a significant impact at the local level. This might not bring a giant spark of enthusiasm (even though it should!), but it does speak to one, somewhat hidden, important area of work where their increased dues would go. 

What could we lose? What are the potential disadvantages to becoming part of WLA?

  • Ability to control communications to membership, dependent upon the way that WLA manages members.

  • From Candise Branum with ACRL-Oregon: “Unfortunately, OLA uses Memberclicks for member management, which doesn't allow us to manage our divisions with this much precision. We have to manually run reports and contact those people, so people get welcome to OLA letters, but nothing from ACRL-Oregon when they join up.”

  • WLA also uses Memberclicks.

  • WLA’s Member Services Committee has been revitalized and is examining issues such as welcome letters to new members.

What does the process look like to merge ACRL-WA into WLA as the official ACRL chapter for Washington State?

Per Lauren Carlton at ACRL: “It turns out the Washington Chapter is incorporated independently as a 501c6 organization. The following information may be helpful to share.

“Chapters are separate legal entities from ACRL and may either be part of their larger association or be separately incorporated as their own organization. You can find more in depth information in the Chapters section of our Guide to Policies and Procedures.

“For example, Chapter 5.3 on Retaining chapter affiliate status states that, “ACRL chapters are completely autonomous. They may (1) adopt bylaws governing officers, membership meetings, committees, and other matters; (2) develop and implement their own programs, requesting assistance from the ACRL Executive Director; (3) establish criteria for dues and membership; or (4) develop a newsletter or engage in other activity in order to improve communication within the membership. Chapters shall either incorporate or belong to a state association that is incorporated within one year of their recognition by ACRL.”

“If the ACRL Washington Chapter wanted to merge into the WLA, that group would then be considered part of a larger state association and therefore we would simply need new tax status incorporation documents and revised bylaws on file.

“If the chapter decides to exist within the larger state association, it’s entirely up to the chapter leadership and WLA how the group should be structured within the larger organization.  There are a number of ACRL chapters that exist as sections/interest groups/committees within the larger state association, so that is perfectly fine.

“If the ACRL Washington Chapter becomes a part of WLA, an ACRL Board action form is not needed.  If the ACRL Washington dissolves entirely, we would prefer a Board action form to be submitted for the official record.”

WLA is experienced in this kind of work, now, having brought in WLMA (K-12 library staff) and more recently CLAMS/CLAWS. They also have legal counsel to help guide us through the process. 

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