Call for Applications for IRDW

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.

Program Overview

The ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce, funded by ARL member libraries, offers a stipend of up to $10,000 (distributed over two years) to attract MLIS students from underrepresented groups to careers in research libraries and archives. This program reflects the commitment of ARL members to create a diverse research library professional workforce that will better meet the challenges of changing demographics in higher education and the emphasis of global perspectives in the academy.

Program Goal and Objectives

  • Attract MLIS students from underrepresented groups to careers in research libraries and archives
  • Strengthen participants’ leadership and job searching skills via a Leadership Symposium held during the ALA Midwinter Meeting
  • Develop a network of peers and mentors who will guide and nurture the career development of the participants

Program Design

The ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce consists of six main components in the two-year time frame: (1) stipend award in support of MLIS education; (2) a formal mentoring relationship; (3) a three-day Leadership Symposium held during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting; (4) a hosted visit to the Purdue University Libraries; (5) career placement assistance provided by formal training during the Leadership Symposium, web resources provided by ARL, and other mechanisms; and (6) funding for extra-curricular professional and skills development opportunities.  A "community of learners" will be created with in-person exchanges and online interaction between the ARL diversity scholar cohort and their mentors.

Mentor Relationship

Mentors will be recruited based on feedback from program participants and possible mutual interests. Mentors are asked to commit time to the program's success that includes interacting virtually and in-person as needed with his or her designated protégé. Mentors are expected to interact regularly with ARL diversity scholars via electronic communications, conference calls, and by attending the networking reception held during the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Scholar-and-mentor pairs will establish mutual expectations for their newly developed working relationship. Formal training for both mentors and protégés will be provided. 


Applicant Criteria

To qualify for the program, applicants must:

  1. Identify as an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority, based on the categories outlined by the US Census Bureau or Statistics Canada
  2. Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada
  3. Be accepted into an ALA-accredited MLIS program
  4. Have a strong interest in pursuing a career in a research library or archive

Application Checklist

To be completed via the online application form:

____ Applicant summary sheet

Please upload online in PDF:

____ Résumé

____ A 400-word essay describing what attracts you to a professional position in an ARL library (essays should be typed and addressed to the IRDW Selection Committee). Criteria for evaluating the essays:

a) Clarity and content
b) Clearly articulated career goals and professional interests
c) Enthusiasm
d) Perceived potential for growth 

To be mailed directly to ARL:

____ Two letters of reference: one of which should be from a supervisor or school faculty member who can speak to the applicant's:

a) Oral and written expression
b) Achievements
c) Interpersonal skills (e.g., ability to work as a part of a team)
d) Initiative

 Letters of reference must contain an original signature, written on either corporate or institutional letterhead, and must be mailed in a sealed envelope with the recommender's signature on the seal of the envelope.

____ Official undergraduate and graduate school transcripts including your last academic semester completed

____ Copy of an official letter of acceptance from an ALA-accredited library/information school

 Letters of reference, transcripts, and letter of acceptance should be mailed to:
Sarah McGhee
c/o ARL Diversity Programs
Association of Research Libraries
21 Dupont Circle NW Suite 800
Washington DC 20036-1543

Application & Program Timeline

  • March 17, 2014: ARL issues Call for Applications
  • April 28, 2014: Applications due to ARL
  • June 30, 2014: Applicant notified of selection decision by e-mail
  • August 1, 2014: Memorandum of Understanding and Fall 2014 enrollment verification due to ARL
  • September 1, 2014: First-semester stipends disbursed
  • January 29, 2015: Scholars attend 11th Annual ARL Leadership Symposium in Chicago, Illinois
  • February 1, 2015: Second-semester stipends disbursed to those who meet qualifications

For questions about the application process please contact Sarah McGhee, program assistant for diversity and leadership programs, by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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