5 SPEC Kit 356: Diversity and Inclusion
Real and perceived barriers to recruitment were reported by a majority of the respondents (37 or
63%), a number that has increased since 2010. The most common barriers continue to be related to the
library’s geographic location and the reputation of the city, state, or university as not welcoming diverse
individuals. Others mentioned the small pools of diverse candidates in LIS programs and implicit bias
of search committees or managers. These are very similar to the challenges expressed by respondents
to the survey for SPEC Kit 319. Libraries are trying to overcome these barriers by adding more inclusive
statements to their job announcement, direct contact with diverse candidates, and providing implicit bias
training to search committees.
Retention Programs
Going hand in hand with recruitment is retention of staff. Forty-eight of the responding libraries
(71%) have developed strategies for retaining a diverse group of employees. The most used strategies
are onboarding/orientation programs for new staff, leadership development and training, mentoring
programs to help librarians attain advancement and/or tenure, and supporting membership in or
engagement with parent institution diversity affinity groups or ALA ethnic caucuses. Other strategies
revealed in the comments are the development of writing groups for all of the faculty, travel funds for all
library personnel, personal involvement and advocacy by library leadership, and library administrators
who actively work to ensure a positive work culture. Two respondents commented that their library has
become a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance. Of these options, leadership development, mentoring,
supporting engagement with parent institution groups, and residency programs have been the most
successful. One commenter summed up their experience with retention success: “having a diverse staff
helps retain a diverse staff.”
Ten respondents reported that the library has made changes that have improved retention
outcomes. Examples include developing or redesigning a residency program, requiring that all new
staff attend the orientation program, supporting writing groups, and having all staff identify diversity
learning goals during the annual performance review process. Still, about half of the respondents have
encountered obstacles to retaining a diverse group of employees. Through exit interviews some libraries
learned that librarians left institutions because of limited advancement options, the lack of connection
with staff, and the culture of the university. The lack of diversity in the local community is also an issue.
Others report that salaries aren’t competitive or they haven’t even had the funds to fill vacancies. More
recently, the political climate in certain states is perceived to have negatively impacted the retention of
diverse library staff.
Evaluation & Assessment
Evaluation and assessment of recruitment and retention efforts continue to challenge the majority of
libraries. Only ten respondents have developed ways to measure recruitment success in their libraries.
Another 25 plan to develop such measures in the future. Eight libraries measure the success of their
retention efforts and 20 others plan to. Workplace climate assessment is more common, though, perhaps
because survey tools already exist. Forty-six libraries (68%) have assessed their workplace climate and
an additional 12 (8%) are planning to. Twenty-four (48%) have or will use surveys developed by their
parent institution. Nineteen (38%) have or will use surveys developed by the library and 19 libraries use
the ClimateQUAL™ survey. Ten libraries have used multiple surveys to gage their climate. Since these
efforts are not yet well established, it is not surprising that only 19 libraries have used assessment results
to change their diversity plan and/or programming, though 60 respondents described recent changes to
their diversity/inclusion initiatives.
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