Outreach and Diversity

Multi-ethnic people

Profession continues to move toward an elusive goal

Representation of minorities in the library profession
  As a proportion of . . . Latinos African Americans Asian/Pacific Islanders Native Americans
General population 16.3% 12.6% 5.0% <1%
Credentialed librarians 3.1% 5.1% 2.7% 0.2%
Library assistants 9.0% 9.3% 5.5% 0.7%
Source: “Diversity Counts” and 2010 Census data.

While credentialed librarians taken as a whole still do not reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the general population, the library profession continues to move toward that goal. Twelve percent of credentialed librarians in the nation’s public, academic, and school libraries self-identified as nonwhite in 2009–2010, compared with 11% in 2000, according to the American Library Association’s “Diversity Counts” report.

Librarians in public libraries were slightly more ethnically diverse than their counterparts in academic and school libraries, with nearly 15 percent indicating a race or ethnicity other than white, according to the report.

As seen in the table above, members of most minorities are underrepresented among credentialed librarians compared with the general population; among library assistants, the underrepresentation also holds true, with the exception of Asian/Pacific Islanders.

In other major findings, the “Diversity Counts” report indicated that credentialed librarians are:

  • Predominantly female (82.8 percent).
  • Predominantly white (87.9 percent).
  • 55–64 years old (34.8 percent); estimates in 2000 placed the majority in the 45–54 age range.

More than a third (34 percent) of credentialed librarians are under age 45, an increase from 30 percent in 2000.

The largest proportion of those who self-identified as nonwhite worked in public libraries.

  • 14.8 percent of credentialed librarians in public libraries self-identified as nonwhite.
  • 9.7 percent of state-certified public school librarians self-identified as nonwhite.
  • 13.9 percent of credentialed librarians in academic libraries self-identified as nonwhite.
  • 3.9 percent of credentialed librarians held work disability status.

Significant changes among African Americans, Latinos

Two racial and ethnic categories saw significant changes in their representation from 2000 to 2009–2010. African Americans accounted for 5.1 percent of credentialed librarians in 2009–2010, as opposed to 4.8 percent in 2000. Latinos accounted for 3.1 percent of credentialed librarians in 2009–2010, up from just 1.9 percent in 2000.

African Americans made up the largest proportion of the total population of nonwhite credentialed librarians―43 percent in both 2009–2010 and 2000. Latinos increased their representation in the total population of nonwhite credentialed librarians, rising from 17.6 percent in 2000 to 25.6 percent and moving from the third-largest population of nonwhite credentialed librarians in 2000 to the second largest in 2009–2010. Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders as a group went from being the second-largest population of nonwhite credentialed librarians in 2000 at (28.9 percent) to being third-largest in 2009–2010 (22.8 percent).

Number of credentialed librarians by characteristic, 2009-2010
      Non-Latino  
    Total White AA API N. Amer.  ≥ 2 races Latino
Total   118,666 104,392 6,160 3,260 185 1,008 3,661
Gender Male 20,393 18,285 563 787 8 181 522
  Female 98,273 86,107 5,597 2,473 177 827 3,139
Age < 35 15,335 13,132 591 390 34 140 1,048
  35-45 25,439 22,215 859 716 62 477 1,811
  45-55 30,326 17,047 1,896 1,171 22 288 724
  55-64 41,343 37,192 2,534 761 58 114 684
  ≥ 65 6,222 5,629 279 222 8 51 33
Limited by Yes 4,439 3,867 154 104 18 122 172
disability? No 114,227 100,524 6,005 3,156 167 885 3,488
For both tables: 2009-2010 American Community Survey estimates applied to Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Center for Education Statistics data.
Notes: AA = African American; API = Asian and Pacific Islanders, native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders;
N. Amer. = native American including Alaskan.
Source: “Diversity Counts.”

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Changes from 2000 to 2009–2010 show that the population of library assistants is becoming increasingly diverse in many demographic categories. Racial and ethnic distribution, for example, has broadened, with 26.7 percent self-identifying as a race or ethnicity other than white in 2009–2010, up from 23.8 percent in 2000. Also, the gender balance tipped in the course of the decade in favor of males, who comprised 17.5 percent of this group in 2000 and 19.1 percent in 2009–2010.

Number of credentialed library assistants by characteristic, 2009-2010
      Non-Latino  
    Total White AA API N. Amer.  ≥ 2 races Latino
Total   122,768 89,993 11,419 6,745 850 2,738 11,023
Gender Male 23,451 14,965 2,865 1,981 51 731 2,858
  Female 99,317 75,028 8,554 4,764 799 2,007 8,165
Age < 35 52,576 32,957 6,729 4,448 112 1,455 6,875
  35-45 14,885 17,047 1,357 494 62 477 1,811
  45-55 21,189 20,619 1,375 882 328 552 1,005
  55-64 24,190 37,192 1,536 658 94 187 1,096
  ≥ 65 9,928 8,691 422 263 254 67 231
Limited by Yes 6,796 4,942 607 273 266 188 520
disability? No 115,972 85,051 10,812 6,472 584 2,550 10,503
For both tables: 2009-2010 American Community Survey estimates applied to Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Center for Education Statistics data.
Notes: AA = African American; API = Asian and Pacific Islanders, native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders;
N. Amer. = native American including Alaskan.
Source: “Diversity Counts.”

 

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Library assistants are also considered a key potential pipeline of future credentialed librarians, a fact that gains importance as the librarian population ages. In fact, the number of librarians 55 years old or older has jumped dramatically in the past decade:

Librarians and ALA members by age
Age < 35 35–44 45–54 55–64 ≥ 65
2000 Census count of librarians 11.0% 19.0% 45.6% 19.9% 4.3%
2010 Census count of librarians 11.9% 20.0% 25.6% 36.5% 5.9%
ALA members, 2006 32.0% 21.0% 36.0% 9.5% 0.1%
ALA members, 2010 22.3% 21.4% 21.0% 28.0% 6.4%
ALA members, 2012 21.70% 20.5% 20.6% 27.7% 9.5%

Sources: U.S. Census and ALA Office for Research and Statistics.

 


 

“We’re going to need an even broader effort going forward . . .”

“Over the last two decades, the [ALA] has made a major commitment to diversity scholarships, recruitment, and education,” Keith Michael Fiels, ALA executive director, said. “Given the relatively weak improvement in diversity within the profession over the last decade, it is difficult to imagine where we would be without ALA’s efforts, but we’re going to need an even broader effort going forward in order to move these numbers.”

The ALA’s diversity recruitment initiatives are spearheaded by the Spectrum Scholarship Program, which recently completed a $1 million fundraising initiative to support scholarships that allow students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds to become librarians. Spectrum has provided nearly 800 scholarships to qualified applicants enrolled in an ALA-accredited graduate program in library and information studies or an AASL-recognized school library program.

Other ALA Office for Diversity programs

The Office for Diversity maintains a number of other programs in support of its efforts. Among them:

  • Discovering Librarianship: The Future Is Overdue,” a three-year initiative “to recruit ethnically diverse high school and college students to careers in libraries by developing a stronger professional presence at local career, education, and cultural events geared toward these audiences.” The initiative is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st-Century Librarian Program.
  • Technology Transforms Communities,” a project that pilots enhancements to the Spectrum Scholarship Program that will better incorporate technology into Spectrum’s leadership development offerings. The program is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Diversity Research grants, one-time $2,500 awards for original research.

And some ALA member divisions have also promulgated standards for their constituencies. The Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries, for example, has promulgated a set of standards “intended to emphasize the need and obligation to serve and advocate for racial and ethnically diverse constituencies . . . [and] to apply to all libraries supporting academic programs at institutions of higher education.”

More information on the ALA’s efforts in this area is available on the ALA Office for Diversity Web page.

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Notes on “Diversity Counts” and data analysis

ALA’s Office for Diversity and its Office for Research and Statistics worked with Decision Demographics to conduct both the 2012 and the 2006 “Diversity Counts” studies. The resulting data provided reliable estimates of the age, gender, race and ethnicity, and disability status for those who indicate participation in the library profession.

As with the original “Diversity Counts,” following Decision Demographics’ analyses of the 2009 and 2010 American Community Survey data, the ALA applied the age, gender, race and ethnicity, and disability status distributions to reliable data for library staffing provided by two federal government agencies: the Institute of Museum and Library Services for public libraries and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for public-school K–12 and academic libraries.

For public and academic libraries, the ALA used data from 2010 surveys conducted by the IMLS and the NCES; for public K–12 schools, the ALA used data from 2007–2008 surveys conducted by the NCES, the most recent data available. As in the original report, information for credentialed librarians (or state-certified library media specialists for public K–12 libraries) and library assistants is reported. 

It is important to remember that the information provided in the “Diversity Counts” report is based on an analysis of samples from larger data sets. Especially when reporting on smaller populations within those samples (for example, Native Americans, males in racial and ethnic categories, etc.), the numbers become more subject to sampling and may therefore be less accurate.

 

The State of America's Libraries 2013