Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Igniting Diversity: Actionable Methods and Ideas for Advancing Diversity in LIS Education in the US

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Igniting Diversity: Actionable Methods and Ideas for Advancing Diversity in LIS Education in the US

Article excerpt

Background and Introduction- Shari Lee

Along acknowledged, but growing, concern among library directors and library science educators in the United States is that today's librarians need unique skills, knowledge, and abilities in order to provide the cutting edge library services the country's growing number of distinctly urban environments require (Wayne State University, 2008). This has spawned the term "urban librarians" to describe those who need to possess the cultural awareness to work effectively in diverse communities. Unfortunately these librarians are a rarity. In fact, this very issue was raised by librarians, library directors, and Library and Information Science (LIS) program directors who attended the Deans and Director's meeting at the 2011 New York Library Association Conference in Saratoga Springs. Attendees unanimously agreed that many newly qualified librarians are ill-prepared to work in diverse neighborhoods. The consensus was that these librarians lacked the cultural experiences necessary to support the 21st century information needs of our increasingly culturally diverse user populations. Similarly, the findings reported in the Educating Urban Librarians Summit state that an urban librarian should possess specific cultural competencies, one of which is determined to be "an understanding and appreciation of various cultures, a respect for diversity and a willingness to deliver library and information services to each and every patron" (Wayne State University, 2008, p. 5).

In considering this vision for diversity and cultural fluency in the profession as well as LIS research and education, Clara M. Chu urged the Association to consider taking an official stance on diversity. Following Lorna Peterson's successful President's Program on diversity at the 2011 ALISE annual conference, an ALISE Diversity Taskforce was appointed to pursue the development of an ALISE Statement on Diversity. The five-member Taskforce, led by Chu, examined how to define diversity, determined what should be included in a diversity statement, and looked at the impact such a statement would be expected to have on ALISE and its membership in the US. This led to the adoption of a definition of diversity that was crafted to describe what diversity is, rather than how it might be achieved. At the 2013 ALISE conference, the membership voted unanimously to adopt the ALISE Diversity Statement. In the document, diversity is defined as "the difference among us" (Lee and Chancellor, 2011, as cited in the ALISE Diversity Statement, 2012).

Given that LIS researchers, faculty, and administrators often lack the know-how required to advance a diversity agenda, the Taskforce also presented an "ignite" session intended to move the statement from mere words to one that provided actionable models and ideas. The two-part session held at the 2013 ALISE conference in Seattle, Washington took the following approach: (a) introducing the ALISE Diversity Statement and next steps, and (b) presenting a panel on diversity that provided actionable examples that could be readily implemented in the classroom, in research, and/or at the institutional level. The ignite session, which I moderated, was tremendously successful: attracting over 100 attendees, several of whom described it as the "best" session they had ever attended at an ALISE conference. The information presented below constitutes a set of actionable diversity resources upon which ALISE will continue to expand.

In this collaborative piece, four members of the ignite diversity panel share their ideas, experiences, and methods for advancing diversity in the classroom and beyond. Drawing on her innovative teaching strategies, Renate Chancellor provides step-by-step instructions on incorporating assignments and activities that not only expand the cultural fluency of LIS students on an individual basis, but which also open the door to candid class discussions on difficult issues. Clara Chu argues that "a critical approach to library and information research requires engaging multicultural knowledge, attitudes and skills because most communities are multicultural. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.