Celebrating 10 Years
of ARL’s Initiative to
Recruit a Diverse Workforce
Mark A. Puente, Director of Diversity Programs, ARL
n August of 2010, ARL celebrates an important milestone: the 10th
anniversary of its long-standing minority recruitment program, the
to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW). For the past 10 years,
the IRDW has provided financial support to master of library and information
science (MLIS) students from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic
minority groups. Since 2003, with funding from member libraries and two
grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the program
has evolved to include a formal mentoring relationship, leadership develop-
ment, career placement assistance, plus many other benefits. The program aims
to encourage these students to pursue careers in major research libraries by
providing them with an in-depth view of the operations of ARL libraries and the
implications for retention and promotion in those workplace environments.
Although it is difficult to determine an exact starting date for the IRDW,
conversations leading up to its creation date back at least 20 years. At the spring
1990 ARL Membership Meeting in New Orleans, one of the programs addressed
the need to develop a strategy to recruit more minorities into the research library
workforce. ARL began to explore the concept of cultural diversity in the
workplace under the leadership of the Association’s Office of Management
Services (OMS, later renamed the Office of Leadership and Management
Services). Three ARL OMS SPEC Kit surveys distributed in 1990 sought to
scan the environment and collect data on minority recruitment and retention
programs, affirmative action policies and practices, and cultural diversity
programming. The year 1990 was also pivotal in that ARL received the first of
two grants from the H.W. Wilson Foundation, enabling the Association to launch
a project entitled Meeting the Challenges of a Culturally Diverse Work
Environment. This seed funding from the Wilson Foundation allowed ARL to
hire its first OMS Diversity Consultant on a part-time basis. Kriza Jennings first
served in this capacity, offering presentations, seminars, and consulting services
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