American Library Association, founded 1876, organization whose purpose is to increase the usefulness of books through the improvement and extension of library services. As the major professional association for librarians and libraries, it seeks to maintain high standards for all branches of library service through functions ranging from the accreditation of library training schools to the recognition of outstanding books. The association was involved in early attempts to expand library services to all people. It supported public access to library shelves, tax-supported libraries, books made available for home loan, and research libraries sponsored by the government and major educational institutions. It fosters joint programs with the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. It has a long-standing policy of opposition to censorship, the banning of books, and violations of the user's right to confidentiality in the selection of reading materials. The organization, based in Chicago, had 58,777 members in 1999.