AILA was founded in 1979 in conjunction with the White House Pre-Conference on Indian Library and Information Services on or near Reservations. At the time, there was increasing awareness that library services for Native Americans were inadequate. Individuals as well as the government began to organize to remedy the situation.
An affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), the American Indian Library Association is a membership action group that addresses the library-related needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Members are individuals and institutions interested in the development of programs to improve Indian library, cultural, and informational services in school, public, and research libraries on reservations. AILA is also committed to disseminating information about Indian cultures, languages, values, and information needs to the library community. AILA cosponsors an annual conference and holds a yearly business meeting in conjunction with the American Library Association annual meeting. It publishes the American Indian Libraries Newsletter twice a year.