Making it REAL! IMLS grant project: Diversity

To All Grant Partners:

The New York State Library grant proposal supports IMLS Priority 1: "To recruit and educate the next generation of librarians in such a way that diversity in the profession will be enhanced and new librarians will be prepared to serve diverse populations." A complete narrative of the grant proposal can be found here.

Questions have been raised as to the meaning of the term "diversity." Tracie Hall, director of ALA's Office for Diversity and the Spectrum Initiative, provided the following answer which, hopefully, will provide you with guidance in defining what "diversity" means for your proposal.

From Tracie Hall:

I recognize the often amorphous nature of the term "diversity." As part of our own Diversity Action and Inclusion Plan at the Association we've acknowledged the following facets of diversity:

"The American Library Association recognizes that in addition to race, creed, color, religion, gender, disability and national origin, there are a multitude of differences (language origin, regional and geographic background, economic class, education, learning and communication styles, sexual orientation and personal lifestyle) that individuals bring to the workplace."

The "protected classes" according to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and one of its enforcement agencies, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), are: race, creed, color, religion, gender, disability and national origin, all of which are included in the larger category of those protected by Affirmative Action.

I am sure that you will hold to the definition of "diversity" that you defined in your IMLS grant application and in doing so, it is important to pay attention to "context." For example, the gender make-up of librarianship being nearly 82% women might mean that focusing on female recruitment is not a diversity priority, but the recruitment of librarians from rural communities who will go back and serve in rural libraries (many of which are staffed by non-degreed library staff) could be critical to both regional diversity as well as equity of access.

Also, geographical location needs to be tossed around a bit in the name of context. The question again, is what kind of "diversity" will recruitment of people from upstate New York bring to the profession?

Looking at the demographics for New York, which is now according to the Census, a slow growth state (meaning that demographics may shift but there are not dramatic increases in population -- an example while the "Black" population in NYC between 1990-2000 stayed pretty static much of that was a result of new African immigrants from Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast replacing African-Americans who moved from NYC to places like Georgia and the Carolinas) warrants looking at diversity in terms of ethno-linguistic community, nationality, race and ethnicity. There may also be a case for intensive recruitment in high-density, economically disadvantaged areas (i.e., Buffalo, Poughkeepsie, some of NYC's boroughs), etc. Take a look at the CensusScope's dissimilarity index to start.

Last Updated: February 26, 2014