ARL is accepting applications for the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW), a program designed to recruit masters of library and information science (MLIS) students from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups into careers in research libraries and archives. The IRDW includes a stipend of up to $10,000, leadership and career development training, a site visit to the Purdue University Libraries, financial support for skills development, and a formal mentorship program.
Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW)
The ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW), funded by ARL member libraries, was established in 2000 as a member response to the low representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the professional workforce among member institutions. The purpose of this program is to attract students from traditionally underrepresented groups to careers in academic and research libraries, and archives. The IRDW accomplishes this through generous funding for master of library and information science (MLIS) education and a suite of related benefits. Recent data from the American Library Association indicate that racial and ethnic diversity within the professional library workforce does not reflect trends in the overall population nor the constitution of communities that are served by the profession. There is also a growing body of scientific evidence that points to the value that diversity brings to organizations and decision-making or problem solving entities. Moreover, library-specific research shows a correlation between institutional commitment to diversity and customer satisfaction levels.
The IRDW employs a comprehensive diversity recruitment strategy for which generous tuition support is but one component. ARL IRDW Diversity Scholars are also developed around key areas and exposed to operational as well strategic trends in and concerns of major research libraries and archives. Further, Diversity Scholars are encouraged and supported to pursue leadership roles in professional contexts and within professional organizations.
Since 2005, a component of the IRDW has been a site visit to the Purdue University Libraries for an inside look at the operations of a major research library. Diversity Scholars are also provided financial support for professional development experiences that are related to the students’ career interest but that are not offered as formal classroom (for credit) instruction. Leadership development is offered, primarily, through support to attend the annual ARL Leadership Symposium. The curriculum of the Symposium addresses many topics germane to these students including emerging roles in academic and research librarianship, current trends in scholarly communication and publishing, strategies for securing employment in an academic and research library, and other topics.
Program participants are also provided support for their educational and professional endeavors through peer networking and mentoring. Through in-person and electronic interaction, Diversity Scholars form a strong peer network that provides a support mechanism as well as an opportunity to share information, and collaborate on projects, scholarship, and presentations, Furthermore, Diversity Scholars become part of much larger network of professionals that have been supported by ARL through recruitment and leadership development efforts. Diversity scholars are paired with a professional library, information, or archives professional who serves as their program mentor and who is charged with providing guidance to the student in academic pursuits as well as in the search for employment. Additional support for career placement is provided by training during the ARL Leadership Symposium, and by professional coaching provided by ARL staff.
Since 2000 almost 200 diverse students have been supported through this recruitment program with retention rates within the LIS profession at well over 90%. Over half of all ARL IRDW Diversity Scholars are currently employed in ARL member libraries and archives organizations. ARL Diversity Scholars are assuming significant roles in ARL member institutions and other academic and research libraries and archives and are undertaking leadership positions in professional organizations in the US and Canada.