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History of ARL

For close to a century, the Association of Research Libraries has addressed issues of concern to the library, research, higher education, and scholarly communities. The Association was established at a meeting in Chicago in December 1932, by the directors of 42 major university and research libraries that recognized the need for coordinated action and desired a forum to address common problems.  The Association incorporated in 1961 under the laws of the District of Columbia noting that “the particular business and objects of the society shall be: Exclusively for literary, educational and scientific purposes by strengthening research libraries.” In 1962, the Association established a full-time secretariat with a paid executive director and staff in Washington, DC.

ARL enjoys a rich history of accomplishments and contributions based on collaborative relationships with a wide range of communities. Over time ARL has led, co-sponsored, and contributed to many national and international efforts focused on collections, preservation, copyright, open access, diversity, global outreach, statistics, assessment, leadership, and many more.

For more details about the Association’s history, please see ARL’s Wikipedia entry and Lee Anne George and Julia Blixrud, Celebrating Seventy Years of the Association of Research Libraries, 1932–2002 (Washington, DC: ARL, 2002, corrected 2008).