Vol. 10 No. 7 — July/August 2002
The Graying of the Library Profession: 
A Survey of Our Professional Association and Their Responses 
By Rebecca T. Lenzini
Publisher, The Charleston Advisor
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Question: What do library professionals and Elvis fans have in common?

Answer: We're all getting older and there's no one taking our place.

Yes, Elvis would have been 67 in January and a recent New York Times cover story reports that his biggest fans are now in their 70s1. We in the library profession today are not quite that elderly yet, but recent reports based on census data and the Monthly Labor Review point out that more than 25 percent of us will reach the age of 65 by 2009, while 58 percent will achieve that status by 20192.

According to Stanley Wilder, assistant dean at the University of Rochester Libraries, who has been studying the aging patterns of our profession for over 7 years, "In demographic terms, librarianship in North America is a profession apart. Librarians are, as a group, substantially older than those in comparable professions, and they are aging at a much faster rate."3 He notes that 63 percent of librarians are over 45 years of age, versus 39 percent in comparable professions, according to Census and CPS data. And our problem is being compounded: Only 12 percent of librarians fit in the 25-34 year age range, versus 25 percent in that range in comparable professions4.

The news about our aging profile has certainly hit what appears to be a "fever pitch" in our own trade publications. And, surprisingly, we don't seem to be the only ones worrying. Our coming shortages and demographics have also hit the mainstream press. Witness The Washington Times' Sunday article from July 2000 entitled "A Lack of Librarians Is One for the Books." The subtitle of the article puts its finger on the problems: "Retirements, pay, image thin ranks."5 And, Laura Bush certainly brought the situation into major headlines with her support for the $10 million special IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) fund earmarked specifically toward improving the recruitment and education of librarians.

The Nursing Shortage and Us

For a fascinating look at this entire topic, try tuning into a 32-minute streaming video produced by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and recorded on November 17, 2000. This film features Stanley Wilder who presents his latest research into "Generational Change in Librarianship," studies based on a careful and ongoing long-term analysis of ARL salary survey data as well as basic census data4.

Among other findings, Wilder notes that 91 percent of ARL directors were 50 years or older in 1998 (up from 63 percent in 1990). In fact, almost 30 percent were over 60 in 1998, and he projected 30 vacancies would open by 2003 (a large number for this group of 122 libraries). He also takes a look at how we're shifting positions inside the traditional research library. No surprises there — the number of catalogers declined 63 percent between 1990 and 1998, while the number of "functional specialists" was up 54 percent in the same period. What's a functional specialist in ARL terms? Among the jobs in this category are systems librarians and technologists, who represented 61 percent of new hires.

A particularly telling comparison looks at the traditional careers for "young women," defined as nursing, elementary education, and librarianship. Using Census data from 1970 and comparing to 1990, Wilder finds that the number of women under 30 choosing "librarianship" declined 9 percent in the 20-year period, while the overall growth in the profession rose 62 percent. Similarly, for nursing, the overall gain was 120 percent, but only 31 percent among women under 30. For elementary teaching, the overall gain was 106 percent, but the number of women under 30 declined 16 percent in the same period.

In comparison, Wilder looks at lawyers (overall gain of 179 percent, women under 30 up 131 percent) and doctors (overall gain of 106 percent, women under 30 up 388 percent). The theory, naturally, is that young women who traditionally supported the relatively low-paying careers represented by nursing, teaching, and librarianship now have other options and are exercising them. The theme is echoed in an April 14, 2002, article in the Toledo Blade: "Careers dominated by women see shortages; new approaches needed to finding nurses, librarians, teachers."6

What Are We Doing About It? Surveying the Professional Associations

So, the problem is real, but what can we do about it? I set out to survey five professional associations and to seek out "best practices" amongst our own colleagues. What follows comprises thumbnail sketches, in alphabetical order, based on interviews, e-mail exchanges, Web sites, publications, and more. 



Barbara Bintliff, director of the Law Library at the University of Colorado Boulder and current president of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), confirms that law librarians suffer from the same "graying" issues as their counterparts. She feels strongly that now is the time to promote the field and ourselves, to improve our "public perception," rather than remaining, as she characterizes it, "quietly competent." She wonders aloud what major development could "grab the attention" of the public and notes that currently in some states, failure to conduct proper legal research is cause for malpractice. Now, surely, that fact should get us some attention!

Joyce A. McCray Pearson, law librarian and associate law professor at the University of Kansas School of Law Library, chairs the AALL Recruitment Committee. She worries about the perception that technology may render the legal library profession obsolete. She notes that some academic directors in law libraries have struggled to also become managers of technology at their institutions in order to preserve their current positions. Pearson pointed us to remarks by Patrick E. Kehoe, professor of law and director of the library, American University Law School:

If we ourselves don't really believe in the future worth of our profession, who else will? My own view is that there is a greater need than ever for individuals with the kinds of training that we get at library schools. I have seen a lot of change in libraries in the years I have been active, but I have seen nothing that renders our training in the techniques and methods of the organization of information sources less needed than before. Indeed, our skills are more critical than ever given the increased complexity of sources available to us. Just look at the number of law and library trained professionals now commonly found in any academic law library. When I started there was, at most, one in each library, and many did not even have one double-degreed person. Even today, there are fewer and fewer law-only trained academic law librarians. The key is the library science background. I think that validates my belief that we are not being rendered obsolete.

Pearson noted the Association's "...excellent scholarship program for persons seeking degrees in librarianship and law, and AALL's long tradition of presenting continuing education and even a certain amount of remedial education (such as the old rotating institutes) to get the skills needed into the workplace."

AALL's Web site includes a specific, if generic, set of charges for Pearson's Recruitment Committee.

The Law Librarian Recruitment Committee shall encourage qualified candidates to enter the profession of law librarianship by:

  • preparing informative materials describing opportunities in law librarianship.

  • coordinating with headquarters to distribute information on law librarianship annually to library schools, law schools, paralegal programs, bar associations and other target groups.

  • answering questions from individuals who contact headquarters inquiring about the profession.

  • preparing career day programs and materials and making them available to chapter and individual members.

  • coordinating with the Membership and Retention Committee to request funding annually to staff booths at career conferences, and at meetings of library, legal, paralegal, and similar organizations.

  • encouraging and supporting chapter law librarian recruitment efforts.

  • coordinating with the Diversity Committee to provide particular support for law librarian recruitment efforts directed toward diverse populations.

  • educating the membership on the importance of law librarian recruitment and encouraging individuals to promote law librarianship on a personal level.

  • developing other methods to promote law librarianship as a career.


Lynn Ecklund, president for 2001-2002 of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), was honest in saying that AIIP hasn't really addressed the "graying" issue in an official way and has no formal demographic data on the topic. In fact, in answer to the question, "Are you part of this trend?" her response was, "Maybe not."

Members of AIIP are traditionally not new to the profession, but pursuing a second or even later career. Some are "gray" already (!), since they retired from other jobs. AIIP members offer services and specialties ranging from document delivery to online research, with writing, editing, and thesaurus development featuring prominently. A common theme among members is that they are all business owners, independent professionals, as the name states, linked to the information world in one way or another.

Lynn noted that the organization gets frequent calls, as many as 10 a week, asking what it takes to become an information broker, so perhaps recruitment is not an issue for this group. She did note that AIIP sponsors a volunteer mentor program, usually with 25-30 enrollees at any one time. From time to time, the organization has also mounted an "awareness campaign" with library schools to ensure that future practitioners know about the independent option, whether they choose it early or late in a career path.



The industry's "big daddy" of organizations, the American Library Association (ALA), has tackled the issue of aging and recruitment with a vengeance! The current president of ALA is John W. Berry, executive director of the NILRC, a Chicago-area consortium of community colleges, colleges, and universities. He has made our graying demographics and recruitment to the field a signature issue for his term as president, along with related issues of diversity and the need to serve an increasingly diverse population and recruit minority individuals into the field. (His third major issue is "equity of access.")

In the February 2002 issue of ALA's trade magazine, American Libraries, Berry summarized the problem and issued his call to action — asking each practicing professional to become an ambassador, recruiting at least two new librarians a year. His mantra, "Each One, Reach One," recalls the ALA recruitment campaign of the late 1980s that also used this theme. In the area of minority recruitment, ALA still benefits from the Spectrum Initiative of the late 1990s. The Spectrum scholarship/recruitment program has been "institutionalized," using a combination of endowment funding (scholarships) and the ALA operating budget. While the 1980s campaign was a general recruitment campaign, the Spectrum program specifically focused on recruitment for diversity.

Berry is convinced that these critical issues for the profession can be overcome. He feels strongly that we need to make the public more aware of librarianship as a career and to that end has created a "Recruitment and Diversity Task Force." That group just completed one of its major goals by sponsoring, organizing, and broadcasting ALA's First National Town Hall Meeting on "Recruitment @your library." (See the related sidebar on page 92 for notes from that meeting.)

ALA's relatively independent divisions also face the challenge of the graying problem. Most have statements and action plans up on their various Web sites. For example, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) through its Personnel Administrators and Staff Development Officers Discussion Group formed an Ad Hoc Task Force on Human Resources Issues in Academic Libraries. This Recruitment, Retention and Restructuring Task Force issued the following Preliminary Draft #4 on January 15, 2002:

  • Continue association-sponsored media campaigns of paid advertisements and public service announcements to enhance the image of the profession.

  • Highlight the different types of jobs performed by librarians to get people excited about the variety of job prospects and possibilities in all types of libraries.

  • Market the information technology aspects of the profession and the need for lifelong learning and problem-solving skills.

  • Get people excited about the profession of librarianship.

  • Recruit undergraduates from all disciplines in more direct ways. Target a wide variety of academic programs and disciplines.

  • Publicize distance-education programs. Meet the needs of students by packaging programs differently.

  • Partner with and encourage strong library technician programs. Many people are more interested in technology rather than librarianship.

  • Recruit support staff that are presently working in your library.

  • Participate in campus activities that let you recruit younger kids to the profession. Get involved in Girl Scouts and Brownie troops to introduce librarianship at a very early age.

  • Continue to use high-profile individuals such as Laura Bush and Bill Gates to promote libraries and information.

  • Support the $10 million bill proposed by Laura Bush to provide scholarships and programs for library careers.
Again, the ideas proposed seem obvious and a bit like mom and apple pie. Perhaps more fundamental to the issue at hand is the ALA Presidential Task Force on the Status of Librarians, created by previous ALA president Nancy Kranich during her 2000-2001 term. This group was appointed to "...address the concerns about status and related salary issues that had been a recurring topic over the last 25 or more years." Its final report, discussed at an open session at ALA's 2002 Midwinter Meeting, appears on the Web site

The group's findings were not surprising. Libraries were seen as a "social good and community asset," but the library customer could not differentiate between the service provided by a professional and that of a support staff member. The report notes:

To the public, therefore, there is not a clear sense of what values a professional librarian brings to the information transaction. In many other professions the roles of professional (lawyers, doctors, nurses) are clearly differentiated from those of supporting staff (paralegals, medical technicians, licensed practical nurses). This is not to say that the role of these supporting staff is not extremely important. It is only to say that the roles of librarians and supporting staff are different, but that the difference is not easily perceived by the library customer.

The issue of some form of certification figures very largely in the Task Force's recommendations, which include the following (paraphrased):

  • That ALA continue its national campaign to educate the general public about the role of librarians, linking wherever possible to the "@your library" campaign currently underway.

  • That ALA try to consolidate the various "disparate activities" on the topics of status and salaries which are already underway in its chapters, divisions, and within itself.

  • That ALA develop quantitative and qualitative measures which can demonstrate the value of libraries and librarians.

  • That ALA study the impact of certification on salaries and perceptions of status for librarians.
ALA is channeling its efforts in this general area through its newly formed 501©6 affiliated organization and expects very high levels of press and attention during the coming year, thanks to the efforts of incoming 2002-2003 ALA president Mitch Freedman. Freedman, the executive director of the Westchester Library System, has made salaries a signature topic for his year as ALA president. His Task Force on Better Salaries and Pay Equity has already announced open sessions at ALA's June meeting in Atlanta, continuing to provide broader discussion of the closely related topics of status and salary. ALA, despite a reputation for being large and sometimes ineffectual, seems to be "on a roll" with this issue.



Carla Funk, executive director of the Medical Library Association (MLA), definitely sees the graying pattern among MLA members. She notes that the 1998 MLA salary survey showed that during the preceding 10 years the number of members in their 30s had declined by half, the number in their 40s had increased from one-third to almost one-half, and those in their 50s had increased from one-fifth to one-third. The 2001 MLA Salary Survey showed over 40 percent of respondents as 50-59 years old. For the last 5 years, MLA's annual meeting Placement Center has listed almost twice as many positions as applicants. Previously, the applicants had always outnumbered the jobs.

In 2001, MLA's current president Carol Jenkins, director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, appointed her Task Force to Plan Recruitment for the Twenty-First Century Workforce. She told me that she really wanted to make this "a bigger issue," to raise its level of prominence among the various challenges typically facing the organization — so it was "not just a matter of creating a new brochure."

Awareness of the problem really struck Jenkins when she served as president of the AAHSL (Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries) 2 years ago. From that group's surveys, she discovered that over 50 percent of its directors planned to retire before the end of the decade and no one could see the young professionals coming in to fill the ranks. (See the sidebar on page 95 for more information on AAHSL's Future Leadership Initiative.)

Jenkins' MLA Task Force is working on a comprehensive plan to bring new individuals into the profession of medical librarianship. A draft of the plan was presented to the MLA Board of Directors at the May 2002 annual meeting in Dallas along with an open forum at that meeting to further discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, MLA is enhancing its career Web site. Information includes or will include career brochures in both English and Spanish for junior high, high school, and college students; a list of other career resources; career fair materials including a PowerPoint presentation about the profession; and mentoring information for mentors and mentorees. MLA has increased distribution of career materials by 74 percent over the last year.

In conjunction with AAHSL, MLA's Leadership and Management Section is co-sponsoring a symposium at the 2002 annual meeting on leadership development strategies for health sciences libraries. The organization is also participating in ARL's leadership development initiative as part of ARL's diversity recruitment program.

Through a minority recruitment grant from the National Library of Medicine, MLA has increased the amounts of its student scholarships and more than doubled the number of applicants for these funds. Each year, MLA also sponsors an ALA Spectrum scholar interested in working in health sciences librarianship.

One fascinating approach which MLA is taking focuses specifically on the next generation of professionals — the so-called GenY, born between 1982-2002. MLA's keynote speaker for its May conference is scheduled to be Bill Strauss, author of Millennials Rising, a new term for GenY'ers. According to Jenkins, it is very important that we study this generation predicted as one-third larger than the Baby Boomers and who many believe will become the next "great generation." Jenkins asks the right questions: What will "resonate" with this next group? How can we package our field to get on their radar as early as possible? What pro-active and positive steps can we take to inspire them to see health sciences librarianship as a career?

She is optimistic that, once in the picture, today's career with its exciting uses of technology and greater on-the-job diversity, will entice these new workers, reported to prefer collegiality, collaboration, intellectual challenge, and "making a difference."

Separately, MLA has most recently sponsored the Informationist Conference at NLM, which explored changes in the practice of health sciences librarianship as well as the knowledge and skills needed for future practitioners. What exactly is an "informationist"? Jenkins says that the proposal was put forward almost 2 years ago in an article in The Annals of Internal Medicine. Like any other specialist, the informationist is meant to function on clinical teams, to supply the information needed — summarized, validated, and selected — at the exact point that it is required. The informationist is an individual who can come to this specialty from either side: library or clinical. More information on this topic is available on MLA's Web site and clearly shows one development we will all want to follow.



Many SLA members already perform as "informationists" in their organizations and, indeed, we read reports that the most successful have taken strong team leadership positions already. "We're all about change," says Hope N. Tillman, current president of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and director of Libraries at Babson College in Massachusetts. She says that SLA first recognized the graying/aging trend as early as 1991 as part of a members' needs assessment underway at the time. She feels that all recent strategic initiatives are aimed at making sure SLA is the organization of choice for both GenX'ers and GenY'ers. In fact, SLA has posted on its Web site Mary Ellen Beck's article, "The ABC's of GenX for Librarians," from Information Outlook's February 2001 issue.

Tillman worries that many of the "traditional" aspects of the special librarian's job have little appeal and hopes to serve a growing diversity of needs among future professionals. Image and branding are of particular concern. She stresses the importance of "making sure we know who we want to be." She feels that it is most important that SLA create products and services to meet not only the needs of current members, but also those of coming members. She sees SLA's Leadership List as focused on attracting "members of the future."

Above all, Tillman believes that SLA's strong mentoring program and its smaller specialized divisions and local divisions offer the true key to continued and future success for this area of librarianship. As an example, she sent along the following e-mail to SLA's leadership list from one of its active members about what the Upper New York State Chapter is doing to attract students:


Several weeks ago I responded to a leadership list message and detailed UNYSLA's plans for attracting students to our chapter's spring meeting. Proposed enticements included:

— the First Upstate Library Student Showcase (students at the three upstate library schools were encouraged to submit a poster about a project or internship. Exhibitors attended the meeting for free; non-exhibiting students paid $15)

— Student Resume Book (any student in attendance could submit a resume; these were collected in a binder)

— Student Internship Book (local libraries submitted descriptions and they were gathered in a binder. In addition, we made a map of upstate showing where each institution is located and indicated if a contact person was at the meeting)

— our registration forms asked students if they were interested in networking with librarians from certain types of special libraries. Depending on their responses, we seated the students with appropriate individuals at lunch (for the first time we used assigned seating at lunch. Board members anchored tables of six, and then everyone else was seated with people who were neither from their institution nor from their locale)

— three students (one from each library school) acted as "shadows" for our three speakers. This entailed: interacting with the speaker before the meeting; sitting with that person at lunch; introducing the speaker; and being available to help with handouts, etc. The three students were very pleased to participate in this way and one said she felt "honored" to have been chosen.

What actually happened?

Well, Thursday night we held our board meeting and followed it with an ISLD dinner. Several students attended the meal. (The balloons were a hit!)

Friday's student turnout was stupendous — 21 registered students, 10 exhibits, more than a dozen resumes, and more than a dozen internships for their perusal. Student involvement pushed our overall attendance to an all-time high (at least for recent meetings). We even held our breaks in the student showcase room, so there was always a mass of people circulating through the exhibits. Our evaluations contained the following representative comments (from both students and others):

— "[The Showcase] was a good opportunity to talk to the students, see what their interests and projects are."

— "I really liked having a poster in the showcase. I thought it was great. I probably wouldn't have made the trip except to
do this."

— "Having students introduce the speakers was a great idea."

— "I feel a lot better about going to meetings like this in the that I know what they are about." (student comment)

At least one of the student attendees even asked for an SLA membership form. (Hurrah!)

We'll see what the student exhibitor who agreed to write about her meeting experience for our next chapter newsletter has to say...!

A key lesson learned from this experience was the importance of faculty support. The Director of the Syracuse University MLIS program held "how to do a poster" sessions for the SU students and encouraged them to submit particular projects. Her interest and unflagging enthusiasm was crucial; indeed, we only had exhibits from SU students. If we hold future Showcases, we'll seek similar support from the Albany and Buffalo faculty. Our board has also discussed holding "how to do a poster" sessions as local area meetings — all professionals would benefit from learning this skill, not just the students. We might even involve past student exhibitors as presenters at the LAM. (Additionally, one evaluation remark suggested that the faculty liaisons at each library school organize student transportation to the meeting.)

At our summer board meeting we'll be discussing holding the Showcase as a yearly event and will certainly pursue other means to attract student participation.

We look forward to hearing from others RE the student "appeals" they are experimenting with.

Angela Horne

UNYSLA President-Elect

So...How Are We Doing?

The proof of all of these various efforts will undoubtedly lie in the pudding. Only the coming years and future census demographics can provide firm evidence of their success or failure. However, I have been struck by several "running themes" evident in each organization's approaches:

  • Motivating and mobilizing the local connection

  • Mentoring and facilitating entry into the profession

  • Partnering across organizations to create a clearer message about the opportunities we offer

  • Improving our unfortunate image (an old war horse of an issue, but still there)

  • Increasing our salaries
As I reflected on the first two themes, I realized that I myself offer a perfect example of how the local connection and mentoring can work. Why did I become a librarian? I never intended to, but found myself working as a paraprofessional in the Serials Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library (a serials claimer, to be exact!). I had wanted to become a secondary teacher of English and French, but when I graduated in the early '70s, the market for those was filled. I tried desperately to win a position at the University Press, but unfortunately, had no seniority or experience.

When my first mentor, my boss at the library, suggested getting an MLS across the street, she made her offer one that "couldn't be refused." She would hire me back as an LTA (Library Technical Assistant) graduate student, which would ensure a tuition waiver and a salary more or less equal to what I earned at the time. I could work half-time and earn the master's degree in a single year. A free master's degree — who could refuse!? As it turned out, when my year was over, I was offered a professional position by the library in a newly forming Library Automation department and my next mentor was, in fact, my next boss, who invited me to my very first ALA Midwinter in Chicago.

Books and Boring

Elisa Topper, assistant dean at Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science, told a telling tale during the ALA National Town Hall Meeting on Recruitment. Attending a high school career day in the Chicago area recently, she asked two young women what they thought about a career in libraries. Their answer came in two words: "Books and boring."

So, perhaps the fourth running theme above remains our central problem. Or, maybe the last issue is the most important. I was struck by a "Letter to the Editor" which appeared in the April 2002 issue of American Libraries. Written by Robert J. Slater, chair of the Science Department at Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, the letter put it bluntly:

As much as I would love to be a librarian, I cannot earn a decent living wage in the profession. Salaries for librarians are even less than public schoolteachers (of which I am one), even though I have an MLS degree from an ALA-accredited program. If we continue to portray ourselves as bun-wearing spinsters dressed in tweed (I'm a male with a shaved head and don't even own tweed!), librarianship will never be considered as a professional career.... Let's drop all the cliches and start promoting librarians as well-educated information specialists. It's not just for widows and spinsters anymore.

Rating Our Efforts

The Charleston Advisor, my own publication, asks its reviewers to assign ratings to the Web products and services they examine and use. We rate on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 as highest. Scores derive from four criteria: content, searching, pricing, and contract flexibility. A mathematical composite is also calculated.

If I were to rate the five organizations I studied in this article, I would have to give everyone a "5" for effort. I would give MLA the top score for creativity and for its Web presentation. AIIP would score for clarity and simplicity. ALA would win for sheer exuberance, especially for its telecasting efforts to reach its far-flung members. And SLA would win for grass-roots campaigning.

The real top honors, however, would have to go to each professional in the field, who every day has to demonstrate the value of our service. The graying of the profession is fundamentally a symptom of a very serious set of issues in front of us, ones we cannot afford to ignore. Our professional organizations are doing their best to get us moving, to promote us and the possibilities our field offers. But it is definitely an uphill battle because, at the heart of it, the populations we serve, whether in business, education, medicine, law, or the general public, still do not understand what we do and we have not made our value clear to them.

There is a chance that the graying of the profession is really the changing of the profession, and that this trend is not bad, but rather good and normal. The medical profession's "Informationist" may be the right answer to serve a particular information need and serve it successfully. Stanley Wilder sums it up well in his video. He says the real problem for us is not to preserve titles or methods, but rather to pass our values on to those who follow us. He has documented the large influx into our profession that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and feels that we are due now for the "next wave." Jobs will undoubtedly differ. Our innovations and investments in technology have made it possible for us to reduce or eliminate certain familiar library positions. But others are rapidly rising to take their place, perhaps with new and more creative titles. As Wilder says, "The kids are alright" — we just have to make it possible for them to succeed.
ALA's First National Town Hall Meeting: "Recruitment @your library"

This free, live satellite teleconference program on April 26, 2002, marked a first for ALA. It featured six speakers with reports on several programs currently underway to address the general issue of recruiting. The broadcast originated from Chicago, where a small, live audience was on hand to ask questions and help spark discussion. Here in Denver, where I attended, roughly 20 of us gathered in a multimedia classroom on the University of Colorado at Denver's downtown campus. An 800 number (as well as a fax number) was available to collect questions or comments from remote locations.

ALA president John W. Berry kicked off the session and introduced keynote speaker, Camila A. Alire, member of the ALA Executive Board, dean emeritus of the Colorado State University Libraries, and former president of REFORMA, who presented an overview of the recruitment crisis. She particularly stressed the need to recruit librarians who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, observing that our future voters, leaders, and workers all comprise a part of this growing constituency. Based on census data comparing 1990 to 2000, Alire noted that the U.S. Latino population is up 57 percent, while African Americans are up 16.2 percent, Native Americans, 15.3 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders are up 60.9 percent. When asked how we can recruit bright minority individuals who will have a wide choice of options, Alire emphasized mentoring.

Nick Buron, coordinator of Young Adult Services at the Queens Borough Public Library, then gave an overview of the innovative Library Page Fellows Program which Queens Borough has run for 2-1/2 years. Buron characterized this program as "formalizing informal mentoring." The program focuses on library pages, ages 17-21 years old, and runs for 15 weeks, 2 hours per week. During this time, volunteer librarians each mentor a page in a one-on-one ratio. The goal is to explore areas of librarianship; the program features four seminars and field trips to visit different types of libraries. For example, the latest Page Fellows visited the New York Stock Exchange Library. Pages receive a $250 stipend at the end of the program, along with a dinner featuring a keynote speaker. The program will graduate its 117th page this June, and 77 percent of fellows say they have learned "a lot" about the roles and responsibilities of a librarian. Prior to enrolling, most express the position, "I don't want to be a librarian." Of interest, most library mentors volunteer to do it again.

Elisa Topper, assistant dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University (the only remaining library school in Chicago), reviewed Dominican's collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools to offer a "Cohort Program" to help fill in the shortage of librarians in the school system. Offered on weekends, the program had seven courses required for the school's endorsement. Of the 19 cohort members, 17 went on to earn their full MLS. Dominican also offers a similar program with the Alliance Library System, based in central Illinois, and has worked with the Follett Corporation to train library sales people. She also discussed ALA's Spectrum Initiative, aimed at recruiting minority individuals into the field. In fact, one of her Spectrum students was in the TV audience and spoke enthusiastically about the program. "It's hard to fail when you have so much support," were his exact words.

Naimah Salahuddin, project coordinator for Staff Development at the Chicago Public Library, described CPL's "grow your own" approach to recruiting through two programs. The Library Education Program focuses on current full-time employees and offers them paid leave and tuition reimbursement for the pursuit of the MLS from an ALA-accredited program. Candidates apply formally and must submit letters of support from a CPL librarian. CPL also has a FLI (Future Librarian Interact) program that invites current and future master's students to share experiences and attend professional meetings in the area, including the Book Expo and ALA's Annual Conferences. Naimah advised those wanting to mount similar programs to look at current library support staff who are service-oriented and show a willingness to learn. She cautioned against applying too much pressure, for fear that the candidate might be scared away!

Annie Marie Ford, personnel librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discussed the library's Academic Resident Librarian Program, a postgraduate effort extended to new librarians to introduce them to the field and to encourage retention and growth. This program aims to allow new librarians the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in a mentored setting. An Associates Program is also available directed to support staff looking to gain an MLS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Tuition for this program is reimbursed and the completion rate is running at 100 percent, with five graduates in 1999, six in 2000, 11 in 2001, and 16 currently enrolled (including four minority candidates).

Curt B. McKay, assistant dean at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, finished the session's presentations with a review of three innovative programs, all aimed at making the degree more attainable for interested individuals. A "Fridays Only" option helps those who can work out a weekly schedule. A "Weekend" program is aimed at school media degree candidates. LEEP is the school's distance-education option. Both LEEP and Friday's Only attract 100 new students to each program each year — a good number for a 2-year program. And through LEEP, the university also reaches international students. LEEP begins with a 10-day onsite session (called the "boot camp"), which includes all the technology training required, but then allows degree candidates to remain in their geographic locations and jobs. The program gets rave reviews from graduates, and one even pointed out that her new employer hired her largely because of the discipline and drive she had shown in completing her master's in this manner.
AAHSL Future Leadership Initiative
by Carolyn Lipscomb • Project Manager

AAHSL Future Leadership Initiative

The Future Leadership Initiative was undertaken to promote recruitment and development of first-class leaders in academic health sciences libraries. Activities in the areas of recruitment, education, training and mentoring, and research were identified.

AAHSL has published online a guide to recruiting and selecting directors. It is aimed at assisting administrators and search committees with the process, but we believe its discussion of the health sciences environment and multifaceted roles of the position will also be useful for current and future directors.

To identify and cultivate future directors, a continuing education course for potential directors is being offered at this year's Medical Library Association annual meeting, emphasizing career paths and strategies for developing skills. AAHSL also plans to provide scholarships for participation in educational opportunities.

In addition, AAHSL plans to pilot an internship/mentoring program in 2002-2003, pairing a small group of interns with AAHSL directors. The program will include shadowing a director at the host institution for a short period, online study and discussion, and a meeting of participants.

The task force is conducting research on the parameters of the issue in academic health sciences libraries and on qualities needed by future AAHSL leaders. We have collected data on retirement plans of current directors and information on potential directors, including their interest and readiness to pursue this career path, and on the ages of AAHSL librarians. We plan to evaluate the importance of director attributes in the academic health sciences library setting. AAHSL is also co-sponsoring a leadership symposium at the Medical Library Association annual meeting, with the goal of discussing key leadership issues and developing agendas for future action.[Information about these activities appears at]

 21st Century Librarian Recruitment and Education:
The White House Proposed Initiative to Recruit and Educate Librarians

[Excerpts from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Web page.]

The President's FY2003 Budget Request submitted to Congress in early February 2002 proposes a $10 million initiative to educate and train librarians. Anticipating the loss of as many as 68 percent of the current cohort of professional librarians by 2019, the initiative will be designed to "help recruit a new generation of librarians." The President's proposed initiative recognizes the key role of libraries and librarians in maintaining the flow of information that is critical to support formal education; to guide intellectual, scientific, and commercial enterprise; to strengthen individual decisions; and to create the informed populace that lies at the core of democracy. If Congress approves the budget request, IMLS must be able to move ahead quickly to disburse these new resources to the greatest effect.

This Web page [] is designed to be a resource that will continue to develop as the initiative takes shape. IMLS invites members of the library community and other interested individuals or organizations to use these documents and provide comments and further suggestions. Comments should be sent to Stephanie Clark at by June 1, 2002.

Resource List—Draft in Progress

[Note: This extensive list appears at]

Sample entries:


Mary Jo Lynch. "Reaching 65: Lots of Librarians Will Be There Soon," American Libraries (March 2002), pp. 55-56 (pre-publication copy received 2/19/02).

Evan St. Lifer. "The Boomer Brain Drain: The Last of a Generation," Library Journal (May 1, 2000), pp. 38-42.

John W. Berry, "Addressing the Recruitment and Diversity Crisis," American Libraries (February 2002), p. 7.

"Library Profession Faces Shortage of Librarians: Key Facts and Figures from the American Library Association" (last updated 10/29/01).

Brief facts under the headings: Retirement; Library schools and graduates; Librarians in the field. Source: Mary Jo Lynch, ALA Office for Research and Statistics. IMLS has electronic copy.

Linda W. Braun, "New Roles: A Librarian by Any Name," Library Journal, (February 2002), p. 46-50 [].

Information Resources for Information Professionals. Comprehensive "Webography," Joe Ryan, GSLIS U. Syracuse; 1995 to the present [].

Library support; extensive information resources for library workers [].

Trends in Library Paraprofessional Employment (Fast Facts, from Library Research Service), February 29, 2000. Colorado information [].

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Handbook of Occupational Outlooks 2000-2010 [].

Human Resource Development and Recruitment (ALA) [].

Extensive resources are also posted at this site for the following areas and topics: Salaries, academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, library education, distance education, scholarships, placement, diversity, rural/geographically underserved, and the image of librarians/librarianship

1. "Elvis Lives! (As a Marketing Effort, Anyway)," New York Times, April 21, 2002, p. 1, 22 (National Edition).

2. "Key Facts and Figures from the American Library Association," ALA, 10/29/01, and "President's Message: Addressing the Recruitment and Diversity Crisis," by John W. Berry, American Libraries, February 2002, p.7.

3. "The Changing Profile of Research Library Professional Staff," by Stanley Wilder, Assistant Dean, University of Rochester Libraries. ARL Bimonthly Report, Issue 208/209 [].

4. "Generational Change in Librarianship," a video clip by Stanley Wilder on the age demographic shifts in ARL libraries 

5. "A Lack of Librarians Is One for the Books," by Andrea Billups, The Washington Times, July 23, 2000, p. C5 (Final Edition).

6. "Careers Dominated by Women See Shortages; New Approaches Needed to Finding Nurses, Librarians, Teachers," by Karen McPherson, Toledo Blade, April 14, 2002 [

Rebecca Lenzini is president of The Charleston Company, which publishes The Charleston Advisor; Critical Reviews of Web Products for Information Professionals, and The Charleston Report; Business Insights into the Library Market. She holds an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a small business certificate from the Harvard Business School. She has worked in both libraries and corporations. Prior to becoming a publisher, she was president of The CARL Corporation which introduced UnCover to the library market in 1988. Her email address is:

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