Few would disagree that a diverse work force makes us better stewards of the communities we serve. It enhances our ability to respond to an increasingly changing world of patrons, strengthens relations with our communities, and expands the creativity of our libraries.
While efforts to diversify the profession have improved in the past quarter-century, librarianship remains relatively monochrome. ALA's 2006 Diversity Counts report, which surveyed 110,000 librarians at a wide range of institutions, found that 88% of respondents were white and 82% were women.
Libraries can help address the imbalance by offering internship programs that devise concrete strategies to recruit students of varying gender identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and other backgrounds. The three of us were lucky enough to be part of one such program in summer 2009 at the Brooklyn College Library.
The lack of diversity among full-time librarians in the BC Library is as noticeable as the contrasting diversity among the student body. The college's student population is approximately 29% non-Hispanic white, 18% black, 10% Asian, 8% Hispanic, and the vest undeclared or other. By sharp comparison, the BC Library faculty is 95% white and 5% Asian.
But diversifying the library faculty is as challenging for BC as it is at similar institutions. The library's appointments committee must contend with the complex realities of rigid hiring processes and infrequent …