Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity

[last update 29 September 2003]


The American Library Association is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.  Both internally in its own hiring and employment practices, and externally as a model to the profession, the association strives to equitably recruit and enhance the employment opportunities of all employees, and ensure that neither employment nor promotion is inhibited on the grounds of race, age, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disabilities, marital status, sexual orientation, nor Vietnam Era veteran status.

KEY ACTION/PRIORITY AREAS:  Diversity, Personnel Issues
RELATED ISSUES:  Recruitment, Library Personnel, Library Outreach


  • Policy 1.3 E:  8) Librarianship recruits a racially and ethnically diverse group of high caliber persons.


  • In the much debated University of Michigan cases, the Supreme Court affirmed the importance of diversity in an academic environment but struck down an admissions policy that tied race to a metrics system, thus making affirmative action recruitment and hiring practices more [difficult] to legislate.


  • ALA Office for Diversity/Committee on Diversity
  • ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment/HRDR Advisory Committee /Recruitment Assembly
  • LAMA (HRS)


  • American Indian Library Association (AILA)
  • Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA)
  • Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA)
  • Chinese-American Librarians Association (CALA)
  • REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library Services to the Spanish Speaking)


  • 1911 - Theresa West Elmendorf was the 1st woman to serve as ALA president.
  • 1936-ALA adopted a policy that it would not meet in cities where conference accommodations could not be provided equally to all members.
  • 1960 - The Special Committee on Civil Rights was appointed to examine existing ALA policies and recommend an amendment or new statement on civil rights.
  • 1961 - The ALA Bill of Rights was amended to include:  The right of an individual to the use of a library should not be denied or abridged because of his race, religion, national origins, or political views.
  • 1970 - ALA Council approved the following resolution: "The American Library Association recognizes that there exist minorities which are not ethnic in nature but which suffer oppression.  The association recommends that libraries and members strenuously combat discrimination in service to and employment of individuals from all minority groups, whether the distinguishing characteristics of the minority be ethnic, sexual, religious, or of any other kind." <1971?>
  • 1970 - ALA Council approved a policy on Library Education and Manpower - and the referred it back to the Office for Library Personnel Resources (now HRDR) to remove "sexist" language.
  • 1971 - A.P.Marshall, the 2nd African-American to run for ALA president, served on the ALA Executive Board as 2nd Vice-President.
  • 1972 - Robert Wedgeworth was the 1st African-American to serve as ALA Executive Director.
  • 1973 - The ALA Office for Library Personnel Resources (now HRDR) compiled its first annual listing of Degrees and Certificates Awarded by U.S. Library Education, giving breakdowns by gender and ethnicity.
  • 1974 - OLPR Advisory Committee (now HRDR Advisory) formed a subcommittee on Equal Employment Opportunity.  ALA held an Affirmative Action Institute, facilitated by OLPR.
  • 1976 - Clara Stanton Jones became the 1st African-American to serve as president of ALA.
  • 1976 - ALA Council adopted Equal Employment Opportunity: A Statement of Policy of the American Library Association.
  • 1977 - The 1st Louise Giles Minority Scholarship was awarded.
  • 1979 - ALA/OLPR testified before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on wage discrimination.
  • 1981 - ALA/OLPR published survey results - The racial, ethnic, and sexual composition of library staff in academic and public libraries - for affirmative action planning.
  • 1984 - ALA president E.J. Josey appointed a special presidential Committee on Library Services to Minorities, which later became the Council Committee on Minority Concerns, then the Council Committee on Minority Concerns and Cultural Diversity. It is now the Committee on Diversity.
  • 1985 - The Special Presidential Committee on Library Services to Minorities issued Equity At Issue: Library Services to the Nation's Major Minority Groups.  A follow-up report - Addressing Ethnic and Cultural Diversity: A Report on the Activities of the American Library Association, 1986-1989 - was published in 1990.
  • 1987 - Linda Crismond was the 1st woman to serve as ALA Executive Director.  ALA Office for Library Personnel Resources (now HRDR) received the World Book/ALA Goal Award for "Recruiting Tomorrow's Leaders: An Invitational Pre-Conference to Promote Diversity."
  • 1988 - ALA Council added a chapter on minority concerns to the ALA policy manual
  • 1989 - ALA/OLPR published Occupational Entry: Library and Information Science Students' Attitudes, Demographics and Aspirations Survey.
  • 1991 - The LITA/OCLC Minority Scholarship was established.
  • 1992 - The ALA Recruitment Assembly was formed, with an emphasis on diversity.
  • 1994 - The LITA/LSSI Minority Scholarship was established.  Elizabeth Martinez was the 1st Hispanic-American to serve as ALA Executive Director.
  • 1996-In response to a CCMC report, ALA Council directed CCMC to begin work on a campaign to guild a $1M endowment to support minority scholarships.  LAMA established the Cultural Diversity Grant
  • 1997 - The ALA Executive Board approved the Spectrum Initiative, a recruitment and scholarship plan.  The 3-Year Initiative would provide 50 $5,000 scholarships/year to students from 4 under-represented groups, fund an annual Spectrum Leadership Institute, provide mentoring, fund development of recruitment materials, and provide additional staff to support the Initiative.  To support the Initiative, the Board authorized use of the return on more than $3M endowment principal.  The Spectrum Initiative was extended for a fourth year.  An active campaign, which merged with the Council-initiated campaign, was begun to build the Spectrum Endowment to sustain the effort following the end of the Spectrum Initiative.
  • 1997  -- OLOS established the Diversity Fair at ALA Annual Conference. 
  • 1998 - Sandra Rios Balderrama was ALA's first Diversity Officer.
  • 1999 - The ALA Office for Diversity was established.
  • 2000 - The ASCLA Century Scholarship was established, to recruit people with disabilities to the profession. 


Issue Summaries

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