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The California Library Association is governed by a Board of Directors, whose members are responsible for setting association policy consistent with existing mandates and policies, planning the direction of the association, conducting the business of the association, establishing the association's standing rules, adopting the budget, and evaluating association activities.

The Board of Directors consists of fifteen members including the President, Vice-President/President-Elect, Immediate Past President, Treasurer, Secretary, ALA Chapter Councilor, Student Representative, and eight general Board seats. All CLA Board members are elected annually by CLA voting members and serve three-year staggered terms. Nominees for open Board seats can either be named by the CLA Leadership Development Committee, nominated by a fellow CLA member, or self-nominated using a self-nomination form. Elections are held in the late summer and newly-elected Board members begin their volunteer duty following CLA's annual conference, which is typically held in November.
The CLA Bylaws and the CLA Standing Rules guide all association activities. In addition, CLA has developed policies guiding program and financial activities.