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Synchronized Shelving: Battle of the Librarians


Book cart drill teams let loose at last year's library conference.

On the show today, Julius C. Jefferson of the Library of Congress talked about the need for more African-American male librarians. He's in Anaheim, Calif., for the 2008 American Library Association Conference, where he'll convene a panel called "An Endangered Species: The Black Male Librarian." Other sessions will look at reaching out to teens, creating new uses for library spaces and evaluating cataloging systems ("Dewey or Don't We"). But one conference highlight mentioned by numerous librarians, including our own Kee Malesky, is the Book Cart Drill Team.

Jefferson has never participated in the event, but this year a colleague signed him up as a joke. He says the floor show is a hoot, but not necessarily a way to lure young black men to the profession.

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I totally agree that most people don't see library sciences as a viable career option. My husband tried teaching choral music but it turns out he really hated it. I asked him what he always wanted to do when he was younger and the answer was a librarian. I asked why he didn't just do that and he said that he never thought he could. So, in short, he's going to start classes to get his MLS this fall. Very exciting :)

Sent by Sarah Lee | 11:44 AM | 6-27-2008

One my my best friends is in graduate school getting her MLS degree and she says that most of the people in her program are, indeed, white females. I wonder if there are scholarships available to minority men since graduate school can be expensive and a lot of minority men come from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Sent by Julia Havelick | 12:56 PM | 6-27-2008

Hey, I'm always excited when Librarians are mentioned in the news, I think they are a very misunderstood profession. I'm currently getting my MLIS (it's Library and Information Science at my school, a sign of how much the profession has changed since the start of the digital age) Anyway, yea, no Black students that I know of in my program, but I'm in Hawaii where the black population is very low. I think the main problem is most people's image of a librarian as a white lady shushing people. Until that changes it will be hard to attract a more diverse population.

Sent by molly | 3:23 PM | 6-27-2008

The profession of librarians is indeed very white and dominated by women. In addition there are not many schools that offer the program and most people are not aware that you must have a masters degree to become a librarian there are no undergraduate programs for it. In addition most of the people that are in the masters program that I have met chose librarianship as a second career. I would love to see a more diverse group of librarians and there should be a bigger push to recruit minority librarians of all cultures.

Sent by T. Miles | 9:18 AM | 6-30-2008