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Early History as Part of California Library Association

CARL'S HISTORY as an organization actually dates back to 1929, when academic librarians first met as a group during the annual conference of the California Library Association. The 1929 Handbook and Proceedings describes the meeting as follows:

The round table for college and university librarians, in charge of Willis H. Kerr, met in room 202 of the State Library, where the State Teachers College librarians joined them, after meeting as a separate group under the direction of Alice Anderson and deciding that they would gain more by combining with the college and university people. The meeting opened with a roll call of California college and university and state teachers' college librarians, with two minute responses giving volumes, student and faculty enrollment, budget, date of establishment, number of student assistants, etc. This was followed by descriptions of special collections in college and university libraries and a discussion of recent technical and professional books of significance to the librarians of the group. The meeting was so successful that those present passed a motion requesting the incoming officers to establish a permanent round table or section group for college and university librarians.

There was a College, University and Research Libraries Section (CURLS) within the California Library Association from that time on. In the 1960s, the section became a division of CLA, and the initialism changed to CURLD. In 1971, CLA reorganized its structure, and CARL became a chapter, changing its name to Chapter of Academic and Research Libraries (CARL). CARL began to develop into its present form under the leadership of Gail Schlacter (UC Davis), the 1978 chair. The membership grew from 24 to more than 300, and the CARL Newsletter was established. There was a workshop on "Evaluating Library Services" presented in Long Beach and in Sacramento, as well as a program at the CLA conference, on "Middle Management in California Academic Libraries," which drew 150 people.

There actually were separate sections, divisions and then chapters representing both community college librarians and California state university librarians during this entire period. The name of the latter group evolved with the CSU system, from State Teachers College Librarians, to State College Librarians, to State University and College Librarians, and finally, State Universities and Colleges Librarians Chapter (SUCLC).

Founding of ACRL Chapters & Merger with CARL

When librarians in Southern California, led by George Bailey (Claremont Colleges) organized a chapter of ACRL in 1977, the group began planning regional workshops and programs which competed directly with CARL programs. In 1978, Bailey contacted a number of librarians in the northern part of the state in an effort to get an ACRL chapter started there, and a group began to form by 1978. Many librarians became concerned about the duplication of effort involved in organizing very similar programs and workshops, north and south, for two different organizations, and at the December 1978 membership meeting at the CLA conference, ". . . the members directed the Executive Board to investigate the possibility of establishing a closer relationship between CARL and ACRL chapters in California." As 1979 CARL Chair, George Bailey appointed an ad hoc committee to evaluate what might be done. The ad hoc committee recommended merging the CLA and ACRL chapters into a single organization, affiliated with both CLA and ACRL. The merger and an accompanying new constitution and bylaws were approved overwhelmingly by a mail ballot, in early 1980, and CARL became Calfornia Academic and Research Librarians instead of the Chapter of Academic and Research Librarians.

Development of Interest Groups

By 1982, CARL had grown from 400 to 600 members, developed a system of campus liaisons to assist with membership activities, and created guidelines for the establishment of interest groups. The first interest groups, formed in 1982, were Science and Engineering Academic Librarians (SEAL), organized by Michael Fineman, Barbara Magnuson, and Al Hodina at UCI, and a California Academic Reference Librarians Discussion Interest Group (CARLDIG, formed by Nancy Huling (UCR), George Soete (UCSD) and John Whaley (UCI). SEAL-South representatives helped start a SEAL-North group at a meeting in Berkeley in 1983, and CARLDIG-South did the same in 1984, meeting with a group at CSU Hayward. CALM-North and CALM-South were established together, at the 1986 CLA Conference. [Formation of ABLE still needs research.] DIAL (Diversity in Academic Libraries) was formed in the south in 1993, by Darrin Gitisetan (CSU Northridge), but as yet there is no northern group.

Separation From California Library Association

In 1991, the California Library Association voted to discontinue chapters and replace them with sections whose members must also be members of CLA. In January 1992, the CARL president mailed a survey to members outlining CARL's options and requesting an opinion vote. A majority (71%) of CARL members voted for independence from CLA, and in September 1992 approved changes to the CARL constitution and bylaws which codified this decision. Members of the California State University Librarians Chapter of CLA were faced with the same set of options, and voted to join CARL as an interest group. They gathered the requisite number of signatures on a petition and were welcomed to CARL in November 1992.

Annual Conference

Until 1992, CARL participated in the annual conference of the California Library Association, usually planning several programs. Beginning in 1993, under the leadership of President Stephanie Bangert, CARL has organized its own annual conference. The First Annual Conference, "Undergraduate Education in California: Where We Stand, Where We Are Headed," was held at Preservation Park, in Oakland on November 15, 1993. The Second Annual Conference, "Disaster a La Carte: Lessons Learned As California Libraries Responded To Multiple Emergencies," was held at the Scripps College Campus of the Claremont Colleges, on October 17, 1994. The Third Annual Conference, "Re-Tooling Academic Libraries for the Digital Age: Missions, Collections, Staffing," took place on October 20 and 21, 1995, at Fisherman's Wharf, in San Francisco.

Bill Whitson
February 1996

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