During the early years the MALA launched many innovative programmes such as a mobile library service for the rural areas of Mannargudi and Cuddalore; hospital library service; publication of a collection of essays in English and South Indian languages on the "Library Movement" by several distinguished authors; compilation of bibliographical lists; promotion of school libraries and organising essay competitions among school children. 

A programme for training librarians was started in 1929 which was handed over to the University of Madras in 1931. This later developed into a post graduate diploma course and eventually the full-fledged Bachelor's degree course.

Monographs on all aspects of library science such as Five Laws of Library Science, Colon Classification, Classified Catalogue Code and Library Administration were also published which gained international recognition. 

These publications form the basic works for the training programmes conducted by library schools in India and abroad. It took over two decades of perseverence on the part of MALA for the Madras Public Libraries Act to be passed in 1948. This act, the first in the country, proved to be the model for the later acts. To widen the Association's activities and concentrate on college, research and industrial libraries, the need for a permanent abode of its own was felt.

Its former president, the late S.R. Ranganathan had earmarked for the building fund a part of the proceeds of the royalties earned by his books. These funds finally provided the MALA in 1976, with premises --- a wing of the Gokhale Shastri Institue in Mylapore.