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Published September 7, 2021

BY MARCENE ROBINSON

UB awarded $478,000 to improve diversity among librarians

GSE faculty to study why librarians of color leave the profession

UB’s Graduate School of Education was recently awarded a $478,000 grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to study how to improve the retention of underrepresented librarians.

Funded through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, the grant will support research that seeks to understand when and why librarians of color are likely to leave the profession. The study will be led by Amy VanScoy, GSE associate professor of information science and Sunha Kim, GSE assistant professor of counseling, school and educational psychology and learning and instruction. The research will involve additional investigators from East Carolina University and the University of South Carolina.

In 2020, more than 83 percent of librarians identified as white, according to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

“There are lots of initiatives focused on recruiting a diverse library workforce, but if the profession can't retain BIPOC librarians who have already been recruited, then recruitment strategies will have a limited and temporary effect,” VanScoy said. “So, discovering effective strategies for retention of BIPOC librarians is critical.”

The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program supports development of a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the evolving learning and information needs across the United States. The program works to recruit, train and educate the next generation of library and archive professionals, enhance training and professional development for current library and archive professionals, and develop faculty and library leaders. This year, the program awarded 39 grants totaling nearly $10.5 million.

 “This federal award recognizes the disparities that exist within our library network and the gaps that exist in the sharing of information as a result,” said Rep. Brian Higgins. “This project invests in understanding and advancing a diverse workforce toward the goal of closing those gaps.”

Learn more about the Institute of Library and Museum Services’ grant programs.

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