We Can Leave a Legacy during National Library Week

By Long, Sarah Ann | American Libraries, April 2000 | Go to article overview

We Can Leave a Legacy during National Library Week


Long, Sarah Ann, American Libraries


A study conducted last year shows that 66% of the ALA membership is over the age of 45 (AL, Feb., p. 8-9). Thinking about how we can recruit the librarians of the future, I reflected on what attracted me to the field. Mrs. Sole was the librarian at the Highland Avenue Branch of the Atlanta Public Library when I was a child. She encouraged me and treated me like a grown-up. I idolized Mrs. Sole and I'm a librarian today in large measure because of her.

Many of us can tell a similar story. We came into librarianship because we either were influenced by a librarian or worked in a library as a teenager or young adult. While this is a good way to learn about librarianship as a career, a consequence of this has been homogeneity in the profession. The 1999 ALA survey shows that 73% of members are female and 91% white, a finding consistent with earlier studies of ALA members. Because we recruit each other, we tend to recruit people like ourselves.

The same approach to life

A sample group of librarians who took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test of personality types reinforced this idea, according to an article by Barbara Webb in the June 15, 1990, Library Journal. The MBTI consists of a series of questions about such things as sources of energy, dealing with other people, spending time, or decision making. The answers to the questions are the basis for assigning four letters that describe a personality type. Although there are 16 possible personality types, in the librarian's sample more than half are the same type--ISFJ. People with ISFJ characteristics have a high sense of duty, can remember and use any number of facts but want them all to be accurate, and are attracted to social institutions that help others. …

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We Can Leave a Legacy during National Library Week
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