This week’s posts come from truly gifted professionals of the SLA North Carolina chapter. While each representative has made an effort to keep their topics inline with the central theme of SLA Future Ready 365 blog, you will notice that each post provides a unique perspective and is intended to help a variety of readers that visit the blog. For more information about our members and the North Carolina chapter, be sure to visit ncarolina.sla.org.
by Charlene Johnson, North Carolina Chapter, Leadership & Management Division
Downsizing. Budget cuts. Doing more with less. Libraries are fluent in the language of a sluggish economy. The role and function of libraries are constantly evolving due to limited resources, technology, the needs and expectations of the demographic it serves, not to mention (paraphrasing from my favorite movie, My Cousin Vinny) “the biological clock” of a diverse workforce.
As library leadership restructures place and space, there needs to be an assessment of the faces within libraries for future readiness. Libraries are openly accessible to all people and should reflect the American diaspora. There is no other institution in my opinion, other than a library, where different philosophy of thoughts, cultures, political views, religious beliefs, and Harry Potter converge without the threat of another world war. However, are the faces of the professional staff in alignment to the tenets in which libraries uphold? If there are only two members of color in your organization, one professional staff member and the head of facilities, this is not the making of a diverse staff and should be addressed with the same fervor and excitement in which we tackle the perils of technologies and services for our libraries.
A factor that hiring committees consider when selecting a potential candidate is the individuals’ ability to fit in the culture of the organization. Instead of making a determination on whether a candidate will fit in the culture of their organization, leadership needs to assess how the culture within the library embrace differences and are willing to challenge the status quo. Only then will libraries embody change and tolerance within the community it serves, as well as, amongst its staff. This is real diversity in action that can effectively help the future growth of intelligence in the library profession.
Charlene Johnson is graduate student at North Carolina Central University’s School of Library and Information Sciences in Durham, NC. She is a 2011 Association of Research Libraries Career Enhancement Program Fellow (completing an eight week summer internship at the University of Washington, Seattle) and currently serves as the NCCU Special Library Association student group president. Charlene earned a bachelor’s degree from Meredith College and will receive her master’s from North Carolina Central University in December 2011 with an emphasis in special and digital libraries. She can be reached at email@example.com.