Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Copyright © 2010 Association of Research Libraries. Published under Creative Commons Copyright.


In 1990, ARL published SPEC Kit 165 Cultural Diversity Programming in ARL Libraries and SPEC Kit 167 Minority Recruitment and Retention in ARL Libraries. Both of these documents provided a wealth of information about library programs and services that addressed the needs of a diverse user group, minority staff recruitment and retention strategies, and approaches to managing an ethnically/culturally diverse workforce. While survey results in those SPEC Kits indicated that progress had been made since the 1960s, respondents indicated they thought there was much more to do to ensure that academic and research library staff are representative of all cultural, ethnic, religious, and racial groups, as well as those who have been discriminated against for their gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

Over the past ten years, several libraries have obtained funding to support recruitment strategies aimed at increasing the number of librarians from ethnically/culturally underrepresented groups in academic and research libraries, as well as promoting advancement within the organization. Libraries have also begun to put into practice policies and procedures to create more inclusive workplaces incorporating diverse staff, programs, and services. National recruitment initiatives, such as the ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce and the Leadership & Career Development Program, have been created to address the need to recruit minority librarians to the profession and advance them into leadership positions in ARL member libraries. During that time, the number of diversity or multicultural groups at the local, state, and national levels also appears to have increased.

The main purpose of this survey was to explore what other progress has been made in ARL member libraries to recruit and retain a diverse workforce and to identify the existence and content of diversity plan documents; the strategies they use to increase the number of ethnically/culturally diverse librarians in the profession and in their libraries; the elements of programs that successfully support an inclusive workplace; the people, groups, and/or committees responsible for overseeing the programs; and how libraries are assessing the effectiveness and success of such programs. The survey was conducted between March 15 and April 28, 2010. Forty-nine of the 124 ARL member institutions completed the survey for a response rate of 40%. All but one of the respondents is from an academic library.