The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), which is the oldest and largest library association in the world.
LITA became a division of ALA in 1966 in response to the changing technological environment in libraries. LITA advocates for equitable access to information and technology, placing a focus on providing an environment that fosters investigation and enables the implementation of new technology within libraries. LITA is headquartered in the Chicago ALA offices. Jenny Levine has held the position of LITA Executive Director since 2015.
LITA celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016.
During the division’s initial stages of development in 1966, it was pressed by the ALA’s Reference and User Services Association that the name should include the words “Information Science”, and as a result of this and a report made by a Committee of Organization, the Information Science and Automation Division (ISAD) of the ALA came into existence. The name was later changed by the bylaws committee to the Library and Information Technology Association (or LITA, as it is more commonly known) in 1978 due to the expansion of the division’s scope in the twelve years that it had been operational.
In the early 1960s, the idea of libraries utilizing computers came into existence at the National Library of Medicine with the MEDLARS project, which was a pioneer project that came about in 1961 for serials control. From this point, library technology began to trend within the library community and the ALA started to participate in the technology world, bringing about innovation in library technology by the year 1964.
On January 27, 1966, it was proposed by the ALA Committee on Organization that a new division of the ALA be created to grow with and endorse these new developments in library technology. A formal recommendation of the division’s creation was constructed by the Committee on Organization and was then taken to the ALA Council, who approved the division’s establishment, birthing the Information Science and Automation Division, which would later be renamed the Library and Information Technology Association. The division was officially established in New York at the 1966 ALA Annual Conference. The first elections for the Board of Directors occurred on July 1, 1967, where Stephen R. Salmon was elected as the first president of the division.
During the first two to three decades of the division’s life, it experienced a complex organizational shift as it was rapidly evolving and expanding, resulting in its change of name to the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA). The expansion of LITA during this time also brought about the growth of interest groups and the inclusion of new programs like “The Distinguished Lecture Series” and “LITA Scholarships”. Following the initial strain of the division's developing years, LITA began to see financial light by the 1990s, and by 1993, the roster had grown to 5,802 members and was considered a reputable, well organized, and efficiently run division of the ALA.
LITA is managed by an elected Board of Directors. Positions on the board include president, vice-president, immediate past-president, ALA councilor, and seven other directors. In addition to the board, there is an executive committee, which is controlled by the Board of Directors and acts for it between regular board meetings. The Board of Directors operates on the following guiding principles found on LITA’s website:Foster a culture of openness, innovation, trust and mutual respect.
Embrace transparency and timely communication.
Listen and seek to understand each other and the membership.
Value diversity of thought, experience, and background.
Practice collaborative/consensus decision-making and accountability.
Speak about board outcomes with a collective voice.
Build on the association’s legacy and practice visionary leadership.
Prepare for board discussions and seek clarification.
Act in the best interest of the organization and its membership as a whole.
Practice board self-assessment
Observe ALA’s and its divisions’ boards’ best practices as well as other non-profit boards’ practices in general.
The following is the list of past LITA presidents taken from the LITA website:Vacek, Rachel 2014-2015
Blyberg, Cindi Trainor 2013-2014
Stewart-Marshall, Zoe 2012-2013
Cuddy, Colleen 2011-2012
Starr, Karen 2010-2011
Frisque, Michelle 2009-2010
Pace, Andrew 2008-2009
Beatty, Mark 2007-2008
Postlethwaite, Bonnie 2006-2007
Mullin, Patrick J. 2005-2006
Riggs, Colby M. 2004-2005
Wilson, Thomas C. 2003-2004
Ensor, Pat 2002-2003
Wilson, Flo 2001-2002
Randall, Sara L. 2000-2001
Gorman, Michael 1999-2000
Higginbotham, Barbara B. 1998-1999
Miller, Linda D. 1997-1998
Leonhardt, Thomas W. 1996-1997
Newberry, Michele (Dalehite) 1995-1996
Roderer, Nancy K. 1994-1995
Miller, Tamara J. 1993-1994
Crawford, Walt 1992-1993
Peters, Paul Evan 1991-1992
Michalak, Jo-Ann 1990-1991
Parkhurst, Carol A. 1989-1990
Schmidt, Sherrie 1988-1989
Potter, William Gray 1987-1988
DeBuse, Raymond 1986-1987
Kershner, Lois M. 1985-1986
Eaton, Nancy L. 1984-1985
Dowlin, Kenneth 1983-1984
Gray, Carolyn M. 1982-1983
Kenney, Brigitte L. 1981-1982
Malinconico, S. Michael 1980-1981
Markuson, Barbara E. 1979-1980
Martin, Susan K. 1978-1979
Freedman, Maurice J. 1977-1978
Rosenthal, Joseph A. 1976-1977
Avram, Henriette B. 1975-1976
Kilgour, Frederick G. 1974-1975
Kilgour, Frederick G. 1973-1974
Shoffner, Ralph M. 1972-1973
Shera, Jesse H. 1971-1972
DeGennaro, Richard 1970-1971
Hayes, Robert M. 1969-1970
Shank, Russell 1968-1969
Becker, Joseph 1967-1968
Salmon, Stephen R. 1966-1967
The bylaws of LITA were adopted in 1966 by the Board of Directors and have had sixteen revisions since their implementation, the latest in 2013. They include bylaw information for LITA’s name, object, membership, officers, terms of office, duties, board of directors, meetings, committees and representatives, interest groups, nominations and elections, amendments of bylaws, publications, notice by mail, and parliamentary authority.
In March 2014, LITA’s Board of Directors began a new analysis of its bylaws, and plan to do a comprehensive review of each of the bylaws, starting with those that are deemed to need the most immediate attention and gradually assessing each from that point onward.
Since LITA’s birth, participating in both ALA and independent annual conferences has played a major part in promoting LITA’s mission, which is to provide forums for individuals in the library community to converge and collaborate on subjects related to technological change in libraries. Typically with sponsored participation, LITA has been involved in several conferences since the 1960s such as COLA, the LITA Forum, the annual ALA Midwinter Meeting, and the ALA Annual Conference, and has previously participated in conferences like the "Airlie Conference" in 1970 as well as a conference titled "Directions in Education for Information Science: A Symposium for Educators" in 1971.
In April 1964, representatives from libraries gathered in Illinois for the ALA’s Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (COLA), a conference where like-minded individuals had the opportunity to connect on this emerging field of library technology and express their enthusiasm for its possibilities for libraries globally when there was no way for them to converge otherwise during these formative years. The enthusiasm of those who participated in COLA and the positive results derived from this hub of eagerness for technological change within libraries is the enthusiasm that is encouraged and fostered within LITA’s present-day conference participation so as to produce new and innovative results in the field of library technology.
First held in 1998, the LITA National Forum has become a highly regarded annual event for those whose work involves new and leading technologies in the library and information technology field. The conference places value in opportunities for attendees to expand their knowledge base in the technological field by seeing presentations and participating in workshops. The 2014 LITA Forum is to be held from November 5–8 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is titled “From Node to Network”.
LITA also participates in the ALA Midwinter Meeting by offering workshops that contain more specified information about library technology as well as a LITA Open House, a chance for attendees of the conference to learn about LITA’s yearly operations and developments and their strategic plans for the future. In addition to the ALA Midwinter Meeting, LITA is also involved with the ALA Annual Conference, which provides a place for individuals in the library community to bring innovative ideas, strategies, and techniques back to their workplace. LITA contributes to the ALA National Conference by providing pre-conference workshops, a LITA Open House, and other special presentations involving library technology.
The LITA Committees were created by the Board of Directors in order to manage specific concerns within LITA’s broad encompassment of issues. The committees are made up of a minimum of three appointed LITA members, with the opportunity for interns to be appointed for one-year terms. There is also one board member who serves as a liaison to a committee so as to guarantee open communication between a respective committee and the Board of Directors.
List of currently active LITA committees:Assessment and Research Committee
Bylaws and Organizations Committee
Committee Chairs Committee
Financial Advisory Committee
Forum Planning Committee 2014
Forum Planning Committee 2015
Frederick G. Kilgour Award Committee
Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award Committee
Interest Group Chair Committee
LITA/ALCTS Metadata Standards Committee
LITA/Christian Larew Memorial Scholarship Committee
LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award Committee
LITA/Hi Tech Award Committee
LITA/OCLC and LITA/LSSI Minority Scholarships Committee
Membership Development Committee
Program Planning Committee
ITAL Editorial Board
Top Technology Trends Committee
Web Coordinating Committee
The members of LITA are described as “information technology professionals dedicated to educating, serving, and reach out to the entire library and information community.” LITA intends to provide its members with “a forum for discussion, an environment for learning, and a program for actions on the design, development, and implementation of automated and technological systems in the library and information science field”.
Open to all members, LITA currently has nineteen interest groups. They are a way for members to become involved in LITA’s regular operations and learn about emerging trends or issues in library technology. It helps to shape future LITA programs, education initiative and publications.
Active Interest Groups:Accessibility
Authority Control (LITA/ALCTS)
Electronic Resources Management (LITA/ALCTS)
Heads of Library Technology
Library Code Year (LITA/ALCTS)
Library Consortia Automated Systems
Linked Library Data (LITA/ALCTS)
LITA Instructional Technologies
MARC Formats Transition (LITA/ALCTS)
Next Generation Catalog
Open Source Systems
Public Library Technology
Search Engine Optimization
Publications by LITA include the LITA Guides book series and published conference proceedings. A complete list can be found on the American Library Association web site and in WorldCat by searching on Library and Information Technology Association as an author.
Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) is the refereed journal published quarterly by LITA. ITAL content includes feature articles, communications, tutorials and reviews related to all aspects of libraries and information technology.
LITA also keeps and regularly updates the LITA Blog, which contains announcements about LITA programming as well as original contributions by LITA members about technologies and trends.