May 19, 2022

Conference Paper: “Recruiting Diverse Librarians: Residency Programs as an Entry Point to the Academic Librarian Profession in the United States”

The following paper will be presented at the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations ) WLIC 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the end of August.


Recruiting Diverse Librarians: Residency Programs as an Entry Point to the Academic Librarian Profession in the United States


Katherine S. Donaldson
University of Oregon



The profession of librarianship in the United States of America remains predominantly white. According to an American Library Association (ALA) Diversity Counts survey in 2012, nearly 88% of professional librarians identified as white. As the population of the United States becomes more diverse, this lack of representation of people of color in librarianship remains problematic as librarians are increasingly less representative of the populations they serve.

Some academic libraries have attempted to address the lack of diversity in librarianship by creating librarian residency programs. These programs are aimed at recent graduates of MLS programs and are meant to provide them with professional level experience, often by exposing them to different areas of librarianship through departmental rotations. Many of these programs focus specifically on recruiting LIS graduates from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. While residencies are by no means a new idea, they are gaining in popularity, as demonstrated by the recent creation of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Alliance, a group of 37 (as of 2018) North American universities that have committed to creating residencies specifically for early career librarians from underrepresented groups.

While the impact of this renewed interest in residency programs remains to be seen, it is important to engage with the experiences of past and current residents. By engaging with these experiences, it becomes clear that any library considering undertaking a residency program should do so thoughtfully and strategically. This paper will give an overview of the history and present state of residency programs in the United States as well as discuss key components for these programs to be successful, including institutional buy-in, mentorship, strategic planning, and assessment.

Direct to Full Text
8 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.