What Is iMIS?

In your ALA experience, you may periodically hear someone reference something called “iMIS,” and most likely they won’t define it. You can even look on the official list of ALA Acronyms and not find it listed there, mainly because it’s not a unit of the organization. What, then, is it?

iMIS is a brand name like Coke, Pepsi, or Mountain Dew. It refers to a specific company’s “association management” software. Basically, iMIS is our membership database, and it runs the day-to-day transactions of the Association. It’s where we track when you joined ALA, your contact information, what committees you are serving on, if you’re registered to attend our next conference, when your dues are up for renewal, what journals you’re subscribed to, and much, much more. Your membership ID number is actually your iMIS number, and that’s how we track your interactions with us.

iMIS itself isn’t the database (that’s Microsoft SQL Server). Instead, iMIS is the interface our staff uses to manage all of the information in the myriad of membership tables in MS SQL. It lets us do things like update your data, run reports, track donations, see who is registered for our conferences, and more. It lets you (through the website) update your data, set your ballot preferences, set your communications preferences, and more. We even use it to track transactions with non-member customers (for example, non-members who purchase items from our store), invoice companies for advertising with us, and manage booth sales on our exhibit floors.

Screenshot of a member record in iMIS

The upside of using special association management software is that we don’t have to build all of these pieces from scratch, especially the interface that pulls it all together. The downside is that we can’t always make the kinds of changes we want to the software without it requiring customization (which then requires careful attention when we install iMIS upgrades).

Here’s another fun fact I just recently learned: because ALA offers 30+ types of membership and there are multiple divisions and round tables, we have more than 900 pricing rules in iMIS. Yep, you read that right – 900. I was shocked by that number when I first heard it, but then learned that these are potential permutations of membership.

For example, you can be a student member of ACRL and RUSA and join a “section” in each, which will put you at one price for membership. Or, you could be a regular member and join ALCTS and one of its sections, which would be a different price. Or you can just be a member and not join a division or round table, which is yet another price. Which gets you up to 900 pretty quickly. And in fact, John Chrastka, our Director of Membership Development, is always trying to add more types of membership to make it easier for folks to join at the level that works for them.

We’ve tried to remove all of the references to your “iMIS” number on the website, because it has no meaning to non-staff users, but in case we missed one, your iMIS number is your membership ID number. And if someone on staff tells you they’re looking up your record in iMIS, now you’ll know what they mean.

3 Responses to “What Is iMIS?”

  1. ALA Marginalia » Blog Archive » Where’s AL Direct? Says:

    […] incorrect email address in iMis. That’s our membership database, from which we generate a new mailing list for AL Direct each […]

  2. Kathleen Weessies Says:

    I need to know what MY iMIS number is. When scheduling rooms for the conferences, we need to input iMIS numbers. Where on Earth do we find them?



    Jenny Reply:

    Kathleen, that field is optional on the Midwinter 2014 form, so you can ignore it and the rest of the form should work fine.


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