While scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I came across this blog post that one of my librarian friends posted. The post titled The Color of Knowledge: Diversity and Librarianship explores the experience of Staci Williams, an African American graduate student who works in the reference and access services of the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School.
In the post, she talks of her experience helping a patron from Eastern Europe. The patron had a simple reference question:
“Who is Oprah Winfrey?” Now this question is deceptively simple at first glance. But, in helping this patron understand who Oprah Winfrey is, Williams had to delve into topics of slavery, Jim Crow vs. institutional racism, etc. This post touches on two larger issues: the outsider (i.e. foreigner) perception of America and its history AND diversity within librarianship.
The latter issue made me think about diversity within the archives field. In the blog post, according to the 2011 Current Population Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 83.9% of librarians are white. And I’m sure the number is even smaller in the archival profession.
Why is it that these two professions fail to reflect the rich diversity of America?
I want to hear from all of you out there. Complete this form and let me know what you think. Answer one or both of these questions:
1.) Why do you think there is a lack of diversity in the library and archives profession?
2.) What can these professions do to increase diversity?