The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is a professional association of academic librarians and other interested individuals dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of academic library and other information professionals in advancing learning, teaching and research in higher education. The ACRL is the largest division of the American Library Association (ALA), having a current membership (categorized as either personal or organizational) of approximately 11,000 drawn from a variety of careers and organizations: this accounts for nearly 20% of the total ALA membership. Originally founded in 1876 as the College Library Section of the ALA, it became ACRL in 1938. Since its inception, ACRL has been the only association in North America dedicated to improving the quality of information resources and services to facilitate learning, teaching and research at all levels of post-secondary education.
ACRL is governed by a president and a board of directors elected by the membership. It is classified as a non-profit organization with 42 chapters as of August 2001. Under the revised ACRL Bylaws, chapter is "a local, state or regional group that has requested affiliation with ACRL and has been recognized as a chapter by the board." Chapters affiliated with ACRL are largely independent but are still important to the national organization: they provide a local presence for ACRL and assist in attaining the goals of the ACRL's Strategic Plan. The chapters foster professional development, especially for those who can't participate at the national level. They also participate in legislative advocacy and promote ACRL membership, as well. The first chapter was established in Philadelphia in 1951 and the last was established in South Carolina in 1997: the West Virginia chapter merged with western Pennsylvania in 2001.
The North Dakota chapter of ACRL was established in January 1984 as an affiliate organization with the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the North Dakota Library Association (NDLA-ASL.) These affiliated organizations would have the joint purpose of promoting academic libraries and librarianship in North Dakota: they also had a joint constitution which outlined the duties of the two separate governing bodies for ACRL and ASL. At the April 1994 meeting at Minot State University the presiding ACRL chair, Phyllis Bratton, pointed out that a number of constitutional problems existed with ACRL in its relationship with NDLA-ASL. Among these problems were getting funding for ACRL programs and determining who was actually a member of the local chapter of ACRL. The relationship of ACRL to NDLA was also further discussed-some members favored splitting off entirely from the NDLA while others thought it was not a good idea to sever the lines of communication. At the August 1994 meeting for the NDLA-ASL members and ACRL members, Phyllis Bratton, ACRL Chair, and Susan Podrygula, ACRL Chair-Elect, initiated revisions in the joint ASL/ACRL constitution. Dan Koper, ASL Section Chair and Lillian Sorenson, Chair-Elect, joined the ACRL officers in revising the existing constitution, arrived at a final draft and passed it on to the NDLA Constitutional Committee who confirmed that the changes complied with the NDLA Constitution. The constitutional changes were then brought before the NDLA Executive Board and the ASL business meeting during the 1994 NDLA Conference for approval. In 1996, after many years of discussion, the North Dakota Chapter of the ACRL voted to join with the Manitoba academic librarians to form the North Dakota and Manitoba Chapter of ACRL. A new constitution was drafted and unanimously approved in 1997.
The information in this historical sketch was found on the ACRL website, accessed 11/15/2002, 3:02 p.m. CDT, the Council of Higher Education Management Association (CHEMA) website, accessed 11/15/2002, 3:23 p.m. CDT and from the North Dakota/Manitoba Association of College and Research Libraries Records.
Additional material was received from:
Judy Rieke, UND Harley E. French Library of the Health Sciences, on January 27, 2003; Acc.2003-2618
Phyllis Bratton, Director of the Jamestown College Raugust Library, Jamestown, North Dakota, in Fall 2003; Acc.2003-2656
Karen Chobot, Director of the Mildred Johnson Library, North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, on June 26, 2006; Acc.2006-2830