National Dialogue on the Curriculum of Readiness for the 21st Century Librarian
ALA Annual Conference - Chicago, Illinois - Tuesday June 28, 2005
Plenary Session II: Diversity and Equity in LIS Recruitment, Education, and Readiness
W. Michael Havener: Our next speaker will be Betty Turock, who needs no introduction, and no one's getting introductions anyway.
Betty Turock: Well, thank you.
Good morning. The PowerPoint presentation, which I was going to use this morning, has been duplicated and put in your packets by the wonderfully competent and efficient staff of the Diversity Office. So I would ask that you refer to that, and it will save me time from using the PowerPoint that I can use to speak with you.
You and I are here this morning because within twenty-first century issues confronting this nation reside the seeds of major challenge for library and information science education and practice. The demographic ballasts of our country are shifting, even as our professional moorings remain static.
For over two decades, we've known from melding fertility and immigration data that the population of the United States would steadily become more diverse. It's predicted that by 2030, America's emerging majority will be the people of color. No matter what type of library or information agency in which you work, in this century, we will all face the challenge of providing services to populations within the context of an entirely new order of pluralism.
Combining the aging of our profession with the change in the face of our population, we have the opportunity now to make libraries and librarians diverse at last. But to date, just how well has our profession responded to the changing landscape of the nation? Data on enrollment in ALA-accredited master programs by ethnic origin from 1995 to 2001 showed a slow but steady increase in diversity.
At the doctoral level, involvement of all emerging majorities, calculated at 9.2%, can be fairly characterized as always minimal. The ethnic background of full-time faculty clearly follows the number of students who enter our doctoral programs, and showed over that same period, showed a slow increase in Caucasian members, with no significant increase in emerging majorities.
Generalizing, then, for this period -- '95 to 2001 -- we can say that masters and doctoral education remained overwhelmingly populated, as it was a decade before. The data taking us into the new century was very dismal, but what is it today?
The most recent ALA report demonstrates that the change in diverse enrollments is not for the better. This is last year and this year's data. The number of programs with increases in underrepresented ethnic and racial groups has declined. This is the first time in the new century that decreases have outpaced increases.
The need for immediate response is obviously critical. From existing research, it's clear that a good deal more is known about recruiting and retaining emerging majorities than is systematically applied in library education.
A model by Barbara Simpson Darden, built on the prior research of Mark Winston, this year's diversity research award-winner and a member of the last panel. Her doctoral dissertation, "Career Paths of African American Library Administers," completed at Rutgers University, depicts that element in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of emerging majorities to leadership positions.
She found that facilitators included: experience working in libraries, targeted recruitment, the support of colleagues, family, and friends, membership in professional organizations, conference attendance, publications, and political connections. Of these, the most significant was experience working in libraries.
Many future diverse professional workforce members already reside in present-day library workforce. The barriers she found most significant are: lack of financial assistance, lack of role models, lack of mentors, lack of membership in networks. There are a lot of lacks that we have to make up.
The research also demonstrated that interdependence between educators and practitioners was an essential ingredient for improved future recruitment and retention. As a result, the next question we looked at was: To what extent does this needed interdependence exist?
Data from an independent study conducted by Tracy Paler, a master's student at Rutgers, was directed at this question. She found that interdependence does exist on an individual and local basis in the production of research, but the same interaction was not discovered in recruitment. Two tracks were found -- one originating in the field and the associations supporting practice, and the other originating in library education and the associations supporting it.
On the basis of the results of this research, Rutgers Library and Information Science at the Central Library Regional Cooperative -- my colleague Connie Pauls' home base back there -- submitted a proposal with the New Jersey State Library and Thomas Edison State College to the IMLS, and it was funded. It was funded under the title, "Diversity: A Cornerstone for Recruiting a New Generation of Librarians."
This initiative is built on interdependence at the undergraduate as well as the graduate level. The program partners are now working on a 36-month grant to -- hopefully -- reach the following objectives: First, to enable ten emerging majority pre-professional library staff in urban public libraries who already have sixty or more undergraduate credits to earn their bachelor's degree.
Second, to enroll nine emerging majority students in Rutgers' master's program, ensure their graduation, and successful placement. Three, recruit and educate one emerging majority Ph.D. fellow to Rutgers University's doctoral program, whose career goal is to become a faculty member.
And four, through research undertaken by that doctoral fellow, to develop a model adaptable across the country, built on interdependence to increase the recruitment and retention of emerging majorities to future library workplaces.
The first three of those objectives have already been met. Twelve urban libraries that fell within the Gates Foundation guidelines of communities where at least 10% of the population is below the poverty level were added as partners. They promised to employ or advance graduates.
They agreed to pay the scholars full salary and benefits for two and a half years, or six semesters, including summer sessions. In turn, they receive reimbursement for up to two days a week for staff replacement time. This allows the scholars flexibility in establishing their schedules of classes, and it doesn't cost the libraries anything at the same time.
Thomas Edison State College, in operation for over 30 years, is New Jersey's accredited college with out walls for adult learners over 21 years old. Diversity is its hallmark.
The college operates on the premise that learning, no matter how it's gained, warrants college level credit as long as proof of expertise is accomplished through assessment, through samples of their work, resumes, notes, transcript, annotated, bibliographies, letters, etc. Thomas Edison validated the under graduate scholars expertise. If solid documentation was lacking, the scholars took an oral or written examination.
Students receiving IMLS scholarships met the usual requirements for Rutgers admission. They must complete 36 credits within three years to receive the Masters degree. All scholars had faculty advisers assigned upon their acceptance. The alumni association funded registration for scholars to attend the New Jersey Library Association conference. The office of Professional Development will handle their placement.
The doctoral scholar is funded at $40,000 for the duration of PhD course work. The modal time taking by part time doctoral students to complete the course work is six semesters including summers. It's expected that at the close of five and half years the doctoral student will complete the PhD and successfully locate a position on an ILS faculty in the United States.
I don't want anyone in the audience with a PhD to stand up and beat upon me because that five and a half year deadline is very tenuous. At any rate in the past no student receiving the doctorate from Rutgers has had difficulty in finding employment.
The New Jersey state library is the administrator of the grant. It also sponsors a scholar summit where all participants in the program; partners, students, mentors, advisers and urban libraries come together to discuss the program's initiative and improvements needed for the following year.
Let me just give you again, the six innovative parts of this program.
First: Interdependence between the University and the field.
Second: Recruitment of under graduates as well as graduate students.
Third: Mentors in the University faculty as well as in the libraries in which they work.
Four: Paid release time for scholars.
Five: Reimbursement for the libraries where scholars that have release time.
Six: Funding for scholars tuition, fees and attendance at the New Jersey Library Association's annual conference.
Before the initiation of the New Jersey test at the national level the most significant of example of ongoing interdependence between practitioners and educators to create a more diverse profession was ALA spectrum initiative. Its' creation was one of my major focuses when I was President of the American Library Association and it remains dear to my heart.
Before the initiation of the New Jersey test at the national level that interdependence made a difference in the success of the spectrum. From 1998 to 2005 this initiative has educated over 346 students.
ALA has done a lot of things right believe it or not. [laughs]
Each has received a $5,000 scholarship to assist with the cost of their professional education for the Masters degree. Advocacy is essential to continue ALA response through the spectrum at a level that will make a difference. The spectrum cannot be sacrificed to decreases in the Association's budget. All of us here are needed as advocates within ALA to speak out on not only the continuation but the expansion of the spectrum to include now doctoral students funded as well as Masters students.
I can never leave a platform without leaving a few suggestions, so let me get those in. First the most recent data showed that 25 of 56 library and information science programs annually match from one to four spectrum scholarships. That means that the remaining 31 do not.
Since the spectrum initiative offered its first scholarships more than seven years ago, this indicates a sluggish record of response to ALA's gift to library's education. ALA and its leader need to make substantial effort to enlist all library and information science programs to participate in and contribute to the spectrum. ALA should encourage spectrum scholars to attend those programs that contribute to the spectrum.
Second, at least ALA should petition the ILS to fund a continuing, not a one time, but a continuing study that gathers data on best practices that have successfully attracted and retained a merging majority.
This compilation could act as a guide for all programs of library education.
Third, to gather release ALA should develop an agenda that seeks to identify the knowledge and skills needed to increase the cultural competency of all library and information professionals. We know what the core competencies are but we don't know what the cultural competencies are across the broad spectrum of our population.
Programs offered at future ALA aliases conferences can advocate for the inclusion of this knowledge and skills in programs of education information teaching our new professionals all across the country.
Finally programs offered at ALA and aliases conferences should supply learning experiences that provide knowledge of histories and cultures of emerging majorities that dispel myths and stereotypes of any people that make clear esteem for all cultures is a non negotiable tenet of acceptable professional behavior.
Through this activity, continue to make progress in assuring professional equity in the 21st century. For we need bridges in this century, bridges that promote knowledge of cultures outside our own whatever that culture is. Bridges that will assist our profession, reach the major goal of librarianship for the 21st century, professional equity for all.
The time is right, the need is desperate. This is association, its members, educators, practitioners, the people, libraries and librarians will come to serve more and more as the face of America changes all await our response to this enormous challenge with great anticipation. We who are here this morning and did not go to see Henry Winkler are obviously committed. We must make a commitment to fulfill their expectations.
W. Michael Havener: Whenever I hear Betty speak, I want to immediately run out and go to work.