02 June 2008


There’s a very interesting article in the most recent issue of the MLA newsletter about the US Government’s funding of various projects to recruit more people into librarianship. As part of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has handed out over seven million dollars in grants to various library schools. I can’t help but wonder if this will help.

The University of Illinois, Syracuse University, and University of Pittsburgh have received nearly a million dollars “to increase the diversity of and access to LIS course offerings.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was awarded over a million dollars; first “to study the career patterns of LIS graduates” (only in North Carolina) and then “to recruit 2 cohorts of medical students into a new dual-degree master’s program” (LIS at UNC and a medical degree from Duke University). Johns Hopkins University and seven other academic medical libraries are collaborating “to increase the number of underrepresented minorities entering the health information professions.” The University of Arizona recruited “48 Native American and Hispanic students to a master’s LIS program as part of its Knowledge River Initiative” and “to help [24 Native American and Hispanic high school students] develop valuable abilities such as leadership, professional contribution and community service…[and] opportunities to interact with library leaders.” Simmons College has received money “to establish a unique doctoral program in management leadership…to prepare 15 full-time posts for LIS students working to move into senior leadership.” The American Library Association’s Office for Diversity was given money “to double the number of underrepresented master’s in library science students from 105 to 210 in its Spectrum Initiative program.” Vanderbilt University had 15 students in a “model internship program.” Texas A&M University received money “to pilot a recruitment and teaching model to recruit 10 diverse undergraduate students into health sciences librarianship.”

So, there’s money for minorities, for studying the careers of librarians, a new doctoral program, and even for high schoolers. But, does any of this actually add to the profession? Are we creating new librarian for positions that don’t exist (because the boomers aren’t retiring because of the poor economy)? Will these new librarians make a difference? Will the pre-librarians actually enter the profession—and find jobs—and make a difference?

What are we getting for our money? Is this the right way to go about adding to and improving the profession? What do you think?

Citation: Shoevel, Evelyn, Recruitment of Librarians for the 21st Century: An Institute of Museum and Library Services Initiative, MLA News (405):15-16, May 2008.

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