Purpose ' To investigate the role of national library associations both in promoting information literacy and in advancing the interests of the practitioner library and information worker. Design/methodology/approach ' An opinion piece based on information literacy practice world-wide and recent debate on the role of national association and professional organisations in the UK. Findings ' The dynamic role of associations for the library and information profession in a variety of countries world-wide gives an indication of how the profession should use its own national association. Research limitations/implications ' This is purely an expression of opinion about the value of the relationship between national associations for the library and information profession and the promotion of information literacy. Practical implications ' Gives some insight into how a national professional association is uniquely positioned to support professional status and encourage job opportunities by forward-looking policy formulation and cross-sectoral leadership, in particular in the area of information literacy. Originality/value ' An attempt to validate at practitioner level the impact and importance of a national association by reference to real practice-based examples and demonstrably successful international models.