Growing a Diverse Workforce in the Library and Information Science Professions
The 1997 report, Planning for a Diverse Workforce in Library and Information Science Professions by Kathleen de la Pea McCook and Kate Lippincott, and their accompanying article "Library Schools and Diversity: Who Makes the Grade?," examine statistical data on the number of minority graduates that accredited graduate library and information science programs add to the professional workforce. The source of their statistical information is the Library and Information Science Education Statistical Report published by the Association for Library and Information Science Education. ALISE compiles statistics from ALA accredited library and information science programs. The published ALISE data was reorganized to analyze minority graduation rates. The number of minority graduates increased in the decade from 1984-85 to 1994-95. The 1994-95 minority graduation total (419) and the percent of minorities entering the profession are up from 1984-85. Though this growth rate seems encouraging, it still reflects a small percentage of the total graduates for those years, 6.79 percent minority graduation in 1984-85 and 10.01 percent minority graduation in 1994-95.
The greatest gains were made by Asian/Pacific Islanders. They represent 3.5 percent of the population and 3.44 percent of 1995 graduates-near parity. Hispanic graduation rates increased to 2.17 percent; African Americans moved up slightly to 4.24 percent of all graduates. Native Americans saw a decline to only .16 percent of the total. These gains, however, are undercut by the shift in the U.S. population as a whole. During the same ten-year period, the minority population of the U.S. grew from 22.2 percent to 26.4 percent. The Library and Information Science (LIS) profession's gain is not enough to bring minority representation in the profession to a parity level for individual minority groups. In 1994-95, minorities comprised 26.4 percent of the U.S. population, but only 10.01 percent of new LIS graduates. A 162 percent increase is needed to achieve true diversity.
Library and Information Science Programs
McCook and Lippincott suggest that library schools need to find out what recruitment strategies work, and then make a concerted effort to work even harder in those areas. Common themes emerge in the schools that are successful in recruiting minorities:
Faculty from ethnic or minority groups
Active multicultural participation
- bilingual advising/Spanish webpage
- mentoring by minority faculty or professionals
- LIS faculty active in campus or community diversity activities
Financial support (Title II-B, university scholarships,association scholarship
Partnerships with specific libraries
Targeted Recruitment Strategies
- advertising in ethnic yellow pages
- recruiting trips to historically black institutions
- participation in minority career days
Creative delivery of classes
- where people work
- evening or weekend classes
National and state library associations need to provide leadership in diversity initiatives aimed at recruitment, retention, and promotion. ALA and its offices and committees, as well as the Association of College and Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Librarians, the Special Libraries Association, and other groups on the national and state level, have sponsored numerous plans, programs and projects over the years. The American Library Association's recently announced Spectrum Initiative will focus on scholarships, leadership training, peer mentoring, and staff development. On another front, the Library Administration and Management Association's new Cultural Diversity Grant, designed to encourage high school students and college undergraduates to consider librarianship as a profession, was awarded for the first time in June 1997.
All library professionals need to encourage and promote the profession to the minority support staff in their libraries and to the minority students in their communities who are making career choices. Florence Simkins Brown's "Stop Talking and Start Doing!" workshops and Margaret Myers' "Each One-Reach One" programs illustrate successful grassroots methods of recruitment. The ALA Black Caucus' Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin also exemplifies the personal commitment required by promoting mentoring as a viable strategy. Personal outreach and mentoring, though time-consuming, may sometimes be the only way to identify and reach specially qualified and interested individuals. For these new recruits, a nationwide scholarship program with significant resources, such as the Spectrum Initiative's endowment plan, would be invaluable in ushering a new professional through the educational requirements.
Listed below are key citations on minority recruitment and diversity issues since 1993. For earlier citations see: Jones-Quartey, Theo S. & Bynum, Kit S. (1993). Ethnic minorities in librarianship: A selected bibliography. "Special Libraries," 84(2), 104-111.
Alire, C.A . (1996). Recruitment and retention of librarians of color. In: Sally Gardner Reed (Ed.), "Creating the future: Essays on librarianship" (pp.126-143). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
Association of Research Libraries. Association of Research Libraries Diversity Program. Internet WWW page, at URL: http://arl.cni.org/diversity/ [1997, September 8] .
Caywood, C. (1996, May). It takes all kinds: Calling for a diverse workforce is a solid recruitment strategy. "School Library Journal," 42(5),56.
Dawson, A. (1997, July). "Recruiting the underrepresented to academic libraries: Challenges and opportunities-assessment of the sixteen recommendations with implications for the ACRL Strategic Plan FY 1997-2001." Report Presented to the Board of Directors, Association of College and Research Libraries by the ACRL Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee 1995-1997, Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.
Diaz, J. & Starkus, K. (1994, January). Increasing minority representation in academic libraries: The minority library intern program at the Ohio State University. "College and Research Libraries," 55(1), 41-46. (EJ 476 280)
Downing, K. E. & Others. (1993). "Reaching a multicultural student community: A handbook for academic librarians. Greenwood Library Management Collection." (ED 366 669)
Gilton, D. (1996). Cultural diversity in the workplace: A look at the library science literature. "RQ," 36(2), 186-189.
Jennings, K. A. (1993). Recruiting new populations to the library profession. "Journal of Library Administration," 19(3-4), 175-91. (EJ 481 818)
Josey, E. J. (1993). The challenges of cultural diversity in the recruitment of faculty and students from diverse backgrounds. "Journal of Education for Library and Information Science," 34(4), 302-11. (EJ 473 044)
Josey, E. J. (Ed.). (1994). "The Black librarian in America revisited." Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
Library Administration and Management Association. Cultural diversity grant. Internet WWW page, at URL: http://www.ala.org/lama/awards/culturaldiv/index.html [1997, May 8].
Liu, C. F. L. (1994, Spring). Cultural diversity: A conversation with the presidents of ALA's ethnic caucuses. "Library Administration & Management," 8(2), 70-4. (EJ 483 659)
Liu, C. F. L. (1994, Summer). Cultural diversity: A conversation with the presidents of ALA's ethnic caucuses. Part 2. "Library Administration & Management," 8(3) , 126-30. (EJ 486 744)
Martin, L. M. & Via, B. J. (1994). Looking at the mirror: Reflections on researching the recruitment of minority librarians to the profession in LISA and Library Literature on CD-ROM. "Reference Librarian," 45-46, 253-78. (EJ 489 719)
McCook, K. & Geist, P. (1993, November 1). Diversity deferred: Where are the minority librarians? "Library Journal," 118(18), 35-38. (EJ 473 089)
McCook, K. & Lippincott, K. (1997). "Planning for a diverse workforce in library and information science professions (Rev. ed.)." Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, School of Library and Information Science, Research Group. (ED 402 948)
McCook, K. & Lippincott, K. (1997, April 15). Library schools and diversity: Who makes the grade? "Library Journal," 122(7), 30-32. (EJ 543 174)
Mersky, R. M. (1993). AALL and the road to diversity: Providing opportunities in law librarianship for members of minority groups. "Law Library Journal," 85(4), 859-66.
Nance-Mitchell, V. E. (1996). A multicultural library: Strategies for the twenty-first century, minorities underrepresented in librarianship." "College & Research Libraries," 57(5), 405-13. (EJ 537 870)
National Conference of African American Librarians. (1993). "Culture keepers: Enlightening and empowering our communities." Proceedings of the First National Conference of African American Librarians, September 4-6, 1992, Columbus, OH. Newark, NJ: Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Neely, T. Y. & Abif, K. K. (Eds.). (1996). "In our own voices: The changing face of librarianship." Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. (ED 401 890)
Robbins, J. (1978). "Celebrating diversity: A report and a plea for multi-cultural graduate library education." Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association of American Library Schools, January 1978, Chicago, IL (ED 153 624)
Sullivan, P. (1996). Recruitment: A task for saviors. In: Sally Gardner Reed (Ed.), "Creating the future: Essays on librarianship" (pp.108-125). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
Watkins, C. (1996, May). 'Stop Talking' in Tampa: Minority recruitment workshop presented at various conferences. "American Libraries," 27(5), 11.
Whitwell, S.C. A. (1996, February). Intimate world, intimate workplace. "American Libraries," 27(2), 56-9.
This ERIC Digest was prepared by Kate Lippincott, Research Associate, University of South Florida School of Library and Information Science, Tampa, Florida.
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