Two New Issue Briefs From Ithaka S+R on Assessing the Racial Diversity of Librarians
New from Ithaka S+R.
How racially diverse is the librarian profession, and how can we begin to assess that diversity? Those are the two key questions at the heart of two companion issue briefs we are publishing today.
The first issue brief, co-authored by both of us, focuses on the methodological implications of trying to measure the racial demographic trends of the profession in the absence of systematic benchmarking beyond US Census data reported through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In trying to do so, we looked at ALA’s Diversity Counts and member demographic surveys, as well as Census microdata files from the Current Population Survey and the Annual Social and Economic Supplement, needing to reconcile assumptions built into each dataset, issues of sample size and differences in how race, ethnicity, and citizenship are reported out across all of these sources. Establishing a clear baseline of the current state of the racial demographic makeup of the profession is challenging—by any metric.
Yet, the data still consistently show that librarianship is a predominantly white profession. Eight-five percent of librarians are white despite the growing overall demographic diversity in the US, and we project that a decade from now 83 percent of librarians will be white. In the issue brief, we create a model to actually project how many more BIPOC students would need to graduate each year in order to reach a greater diversity threshold. We estimate that between 500-1,100 additional BIPOC students would need to graduate from MLIS programs every year for the next 10 years if the profession is to become 25 percent BIPOC.
Is that feasible and is the profession attractive to BIPOC students? That is the focus of the second issue brief, authored by Curtis, who offers an on-the-ground perspective as a library faculty and staff mentor and former dean of university libraries at Binghamton University.
Direct to Complete Blog Post
Direct to Brief #1: By Any Measure The Racial Demographics of Librarians
Direct to Brief #2: Changing the Racial Demographics of Librarians
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.