Research Article: “The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same: Educational and Disciplinary Backgrounds of American Librarians, 1950-2015”
The article linked below (full text) is the author’s accepted manuscript version to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Education for Library and Information science (JELIS).
The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same: Educational and Disciplinary Backgrounds of American Librarians, 1950-2015
Rachel Ivy Clarke
College of St. Rose
via SURFACE (Syracuse University Research Facility and Collaborative Environment)I
Discussions of diversity in American librarianship usually focus on gender or ethnicity, but historical studies also show a lack of diversity in educational and disciplinary backgrounds. Librarians traditionally hail from the humanities, especially English and history. But as current educational attention shifts to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, are librarians reflecting this change? Anonymized data from ALA-accredited graduate programs from the last five years was collected, coded, and classified to determine librarians’ educational and disciplinary backgrounds and in what ways, if any, they differ from the past 65 years and from the contemporary U.S. general population. Unsurprisingly, we found that contemporary librarians still hail predominantly from English and history—a stark contrast from the business and health undergraduate degrees earned by the general U.S. population. Backgrounds in STEM fields remain lacking in librarianship, but librarians with undergraduate education in the arts are on the rise, perhaps supporting the creativity, flexibility, innovation and risk-taking necessary in 21st century libraries.
Direct to Full Text Article
27 pages; PDF.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.