ALA announces national town hall meeting on library recruitment

Contact: Larra Clark


For Immediate Release

February 2002

ALA announces national town hall meeting on library recruitment

Free, live satellite program in April features national library leaders

The American Library Association (ALA) is proud to announce a national town hall meeting on library recruitment. Sponsored by the ALA President John W. Berry's Task Force on Recruitment and Diversity, the free, live satellite program will feature national library leaders discussing one of the most pressing issues facing the profession. The meeting, titled "Recruitment @ your library™," will take place Friday, April 26, from 12-2 p.m. EST.

"The Recruitment @ your library town hall meeting begins with the premise that the most valuable asset in your library is its staff," ALA President John W. Berry said. "The broadcast will address the salient issues libraries face in the coming decade: the looming staff shortage, the building of a diverse staff and education opportunities for staff growth."

Based on Census data, more than one-quarter of all librarians with master's degrees will reach the age of 65 before 2009. This data does not take into account early retirement, death or other reasons for leaving the profession before the age of 65.

With one of the highest median ages of any occupation (47 years old), librarianship is a career with a frequent need to replenish itself. Additionally, the
Monthly Labor Review estimates that the industry most affected by baby-boomer retirements is educational services. While the impact of retirement varies depending on geography and library type, the crunch is being felt across the country.

"We haven't reached an acute staffing shortage yet," said Claudia B. Sumler, chair of Berry's Task Force on Recruitment and Diversity and director of Camden County (N.J.) Library. "But librarians must address recruitment and diversity concerns now. Today's librarians are trained information specialists, the human search engines we increasingly count on to help us sort through information - now more than ever.

In addition to Berry, featured participants include:

  • Camila A. Alire, member of the ALA Executive Board and former president of REFORMA, presenting an overview of the recruitment crisis and the need to recruit librarians who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve;
  • Nick Buron, coordinator, young adult services, Queens Borough Public Library, on the innovative Library Page Fellows Program;
  • Annie Marie Ford, personnel librarian, the University of Illinois at Chicago, on strategies for recruiting from within your own library;
  • Curt B. McKay, assistant dean, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, on making library education available on weekends and by distance education;
  • Naimah Salahuddin, project coordinator for staff development, Chicago Public Library, on staff development, mentoring, tuition reimbursement and staff incentives;
  • Elisa Topper, assistant dean, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Dominican University, on collaboration with Chicago Public Schools and ALA's Spectrum Initiative.

To register for this free program, call toll-free at 800-354-6587 or go to