Recruitment and retention strategies of LIS students and professionals from underrepresented groups in the United States

Publication Date27 Feb 2020
AuthorLindsey M. Harper
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,HR in libraries,Library strategy,Library promotion
Recruitment and retention
strategies of LIS students
and professionals from
underrepresented groups
in the United States
Lindsey M. Harper
University Libraries, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, USA
Purpose The American Library Association has worked for decades to increase its diversity of individuals
from underrepresented groups; however, existing diversity programs in the United States yield just enough
new library and information science professionals to replace those retiring or leaving the profession
Design/methodology/approach This paper involved performing a review of the literature to assess
recruitment and retention strategies of individuals from underrepresented groups within the LIS profession.
Findings This article examines the problems with existing diversity initiatives within the profession and
suggests how the field can recruit both students and employees from underrepresented groups. This article
offers new ways to recruit students and employees (e.g. how to create job postings and interview questions) and
speaks about strategies for retaining LIS students and employees from underrepresented groups (e.g. formal
and informal mentoring networks). Finally, this article offers some suggestions to create a more inclusive
environment for LIS students and professionals alike.
Originality/value This paper offers practical suggestions to increase representation of individuals from
underrepresented groups that LIS programs and libraries alike can implement. Suggestions for how to create
an inclusive work environment are also presented.
Keywords Diversity, Inclusion, Recruitment, Representation, Retention, Social justice
Paper type Viewpoint
Our field is so white, and though weve been talking about diversity and inclusion for 40 years, no one
really wants to deal with it. - Karim Boughida (in McKenzie, 2019)
Diversitywithin the Library andInformation Science (LIS)profession has oftenbeen viewed as
a problem that needssolved or an obligatory buzzword,but instead it should be viewed as a
conceptthat actively works toward dismantling institutionalracism and bias towardmembers
belonging to underrepresented groups(Galvan, 2015;Wheeler and Smith,2018). According to
the Association for Library and Information Science Education, 26.2 percent of students
enrolled in the LIS programs of United States are members of an underrepresented race or
ethnic group, which includes international student representation (n513,544); similarly,
faculty fromunderrepresented race or ethnicgroups represent 22 percent of all US LISfaculty
(n5959). Despite the best efforts of the LIS community, the state of diversity within the
professionin the United States is not significantlyimprovingat the same pace our communities
are growing (Dali and Caidi, 2017).
The ways in which to increase the overall representation of individuals from
underrepresented backgrounds, but the profession at the national level and within our
local communities has work to do should it truly want to increase its membership of those
Inclusion in the
field of LIS
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 9 July 2019
Revised 5 November 2019
Accepted 14 January 2020
Library Management
Vol. 41 No. 2/3, 2020
pp. 67-77
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/LM-07-2019-0044

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