History and Mission


The Missouri Library Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization operating to promote library service, the profession of librarianship, and cooperation among all types of libraries and organizations concerned with library service in the State of Missouri.


The Missouri Library Association was founded in 1900 to expand library service and promote professional development of librarians in Missouri. The MLA directed much of its energy during the first half of the century toward lobbying for library related legislation. Major results included the establishment of the State Library Commission in 1907 and the 1947 creation of the Missouri State Library.

As the century waxed, MLA’s organizational structure expanded and evolved, as did its goals. The 1930s through the 1950s saw the birth and consolidation of various divisions; the 1960s saw a growing trend toward formation of special round tables and committees to address particular library services and professional concerns of librarians. In 1940 MLA began publication of its official journal, the MLA Quarterly.

The end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s witnessed additional changes. Besides the establishment of a permanent office and the hiring of an executive secretary, the organization spawned subsidiary groups to address certain social concerns: censorship, children’s services, prison services, and women’s rights among others. The MLA Quarterly ceased publication in 1969 and was replaced by the MLA Newsletter. The MLA also served as the focal point for the formation of a new Missouri library network.

In 1987 the Missouri Association of School Libraries, perhaps the most autonomous of the Missouri Library Association’s subsidiaries, seceded from the Missouri Library Association and returned to its former independent status.

This historical summary is taken from the record for the papers of the MLA held at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

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