New Destinations in the Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement of People of Color to the Library Profession
In spite of ongoing diversity initiatives and programs by organizations such as ARL, ACRL and other groups, recruitment, retention and promotion among library and information studies (LIS) students and library workers is lagging. Two recent projects, the REFORMA Telling Our Stories: Community Building to Recruit and Retain Latinx to the Library Profession grant and the Hampton University Forum on Minority Recruitment and Retention in the LIS Field grant, both awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), address the need to set new goals and create profession-wide efforts to look at the recruitment and retention efforts if we really want to diversify the profession. Libraries that succeed in recruiting must simultaneously focus on retention and promotion of new hires. Mentoring programs have proven to be effective in supporting new professionals and aiding them to remain in the field. There is a need to develop a climate in the workplace that supports and encourages advancement. The Hampton LIS Forum, held August 1-2, 2018 at Hampton University provided a safe space for the discussion of diversity initiatives and the concerns of people of color within the LIS profession. The forum also created a think-tank to create actionable strategies to address diversity in recruitment and retention. This presentation will discuss both grant-funded projects and the need for continued efforts and research to address the lack of diversity of people of color within the library and information studies field.
Speakers: Miguel Juarez, Tina Rollins, and Tess Tobin
The speakers wanted to spent more of the time having a discussion with the audience, but unfortunately, they spent too much time providing background in this one-hour session. What is clear, though, from their presentation is that there are areas where we can focus, in order to improvement recruitment, retention, and advancement. Those areas include two which drew my attention:
- Leadership training
- Professional Development
- Emotional Support
- A Sense of Community
- Institutional Sponsorship
- Access to Networks
- Project Specific Feedback
- Role Models
- Safe Space
Library staff of color need to find and connect with mentors, who can provide the type of mentoring they need. While a library might provide a mentor, staff should be willing to look elsewhere for additional mentors, who can provide a different point of view and perhaps a different mentoring relationship.
In terms of leadership training, current and future leaders need to be trained on working with diverse staff members, no matter what that diversity might be. We cannot assume that someone already has those skills. This training could occur in a number of different ways and might need to occur more than once, since we really don't leave everything about working in a diverse and inclusive environment in one sitting.
Our staff of color should also receive leadership training, because they will be leaders. Some will become team leaders, managers or directors, while others might lead a project. They should get into that leadership role with an understand of what it entails and how to succeed as a leader. They should see leadership as a natural progression in their careers. Having people of color in leadership roles puts them in the position of being role models for other staff as well as our communities, so we need to help them succeed, rather than setting them up for failure.
An Introduction to Implicit Bias and Microaggressions
The American Library Association commits to ameliorating marginalization and underrepresentation within the Association and the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion. This introductory training will explore implicit bias and microaggressions. Participants will be able to identify how these concepts create barriers and begin to explore ways to disrupt our biases and respond to microaggressions. This training will be presented three times throughout Annual Conference and is open to all conference attendees.Speakers: Mee Moua and Michael Wenger
They noted the history of bias in the U.S., noting that it was used to justify enslavement and conquest. Some bias has been based on pseudo science. Some have been quite intentional through federal government actions.
Bias is a preference for - or against - a group of people and it occurs on a subconscious level. We all are biased. We all can learn what our biases are and then be more mindful of how we consciously react in various situation.
One of the exercise we did was to discuss how we would handle the following scenario.
Two groups of students - one predominately white and one predominately black- are sitting at separate tables in the library, and both groups are speaking loudly to each other. Your colleague walks over to the table that has mostly black students and tells them to be quiet or they will be kicked out of the library.
What message do you think the students at either table received from the interaction?
What would you do or say to the students, if you were the one responding?
What would you do or say to your colleague?
That was a fascinating discussion! Wow. Did we all read the scenario the same way? And then what did we decide to do? You might discuss that scenario with your staff and see what happens. I guarantee it will be educational.
This session was both informative and fun. The speakers created good interaction with the participants and assured that we interacted with each other at our tables.
- Steele and Aronson. (1995) Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans.
- Devine, et al. (2015) Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit-breaking intervention
- National Center for State Courts. (2013) Helping courts address implicit bias
It is likely that every sessions at ALA related to diversity, bias, etc., began with some sort of an overview of the basics. While I know having an understanding of the basics is necessary, I wish there could have been a different way of doing it, so that each session could have spent more time one what was unique about that session. This might have meant creating an introductory session each day, which was marked and promoted as such. Then the other sessions could have had in their descriptions that people were expected to attend one of the introductory sessions first. Yes, I know this would be a hassle, but I think participants at these sessions would have appreciated it.
Finally, I want to say that I appreciate ALA having so many sessions on these topics. Now more than ever, we need to be trained and retrained on them. And then we need to be willing to use what we have learned to make our libraries more welcoming for everyone.