A link to a study of racism in library school was passed on to me by the fantastic librarian and archivist of the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies Library and Media Center. The link below to the work of Toccara Porter, an M.L.I.S student at Kent State, includes data from her survey on racism encountered by Black students in library school as well as a brief background on the study. She will be working on a publication from the data soon, but I thought even the raw data was worth sharing widely.
I thought it was interesting to note that alienation is the most-reported racist experience in library school. Library schools continue to enroll few students of color, and even fewer faculty of color. This leads not only to glaring gaps in classroom discussions and a lack of diversity among professional librarians (and archivists – especially archivists!) but, as Porter’s work shows, alienation on the part of the students of color in these programs. As Porter writes: “Fifty-six percent (20) of respondents suggested that LIS administrators can address racism by creating mentor programs, with 50% (18) suggesting the active recruitment of ethnic minority students and faculty” (p. 1).
It is my hope that studies such as this can help to contribute to the hiring dialogs at library schools and I-schools across North America. Groups such as the American Library Association’s Association of College and Research Libraries have released planning documents for increasing ethnic and racial diversity among librarians. Where are the similar efforts for the I-schools and library schools?