The North Carolina Library Association was organized May 14, 1904 by a group of seven librarians who met in Greensboro and elected Annie Smith Ross as President.  By November 1904, when the first Annual Meeting was held in Charlotte, there were 49 members.  The North Carolina Library Association was incorporated on August 4, 1948.  It is represented according to statute by two positions on the State Library Commission, which was established in 1909 through the efforts of the early leaders of the Association.  NCLA maintains chapter status in the American Library Association and the Southeastern Library Association, and its elected representatives serve on the governing bodies of those associations.

NCLA is organized into various sections and round tables, which provide opportunity for discussion and continued education at biennial conferences and on other occasions as appropriate to the needs of members.  Chairs of the sections and round tables serve on the Executive Board with the officers of the Association.  There are eleven standing committees and a variety of ad hoc or special committees which are appointed by and report to the President.

The official publication of NCLA is North Carolina Libraries, which has been published continuously since 1942.  The editor of NCL is a member of the Executive board.