Anti-Racism Resources for Libraries

This is a selection, not an exhaustive list, of resources compiled by Mandissa Arlain with the OLA Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Committee on the topic of Anti-Racism For Libraries. We recommend that you reach out to your public library for resources listed that you are unable to access. We trust that visitors to this page will suggest recommendations and edits they deem useful.

  1. The Diversity Toolkit by Dr. Darren E Lund – University of Calgary
    • Introduced as Canada’s Tim Wise (a US speaker who specializes in race and white privilege from the white male perspective. This diversity toolkit site as received over one million views
    • Click: Web resources >> Canadian Web-based Diversity Resources
  2. Diversity Toolkit: A Guide to Discussing Identity, Power and Privilege by Jeremy Goldbach – University of Southern California.
    • A step by step guide to discussing issues of identity, power and privilege.
  3. Diversity Toolkit: Race and Ethnicity – National Education Association
  4. PBS Series on Race – The power of an illusion – a 2 part series on race – PBS
    • The discussion guide is excellent in terms of ideas on how to discuss/engage with the topic.
  1. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (E.D.I.)  – State College of Florida Libraries
  2. Diversity at Penn Libraries: Video, Blog, and Other Resources -University of Pennsylvania Libraries
    • Site for Group on Library Diversity (GOLD)
  1. 2009 iDEALS Alire Keynote Part 11 (Q&A) (YouTube)
    • On Monday, November 9, 2009, the Department of Library and Information Studies (LIS) held a town hall meeting, the Information, Diversity, Engagement, Access and Libraries Summit (iDEALS), to bring together LIS students, faculty, staff and alumni, the regional professional community and other stakeholders to discuss and work on how we address information, diversity, engagement, access and libraries (iDEAL) in our education, research, practice and community.
  2. Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race (YouTube)
  3. Tim Wise: On White Privilege (Clip) (YouTube)
  1. In the Library with the Lead Pipe
  2. Diversity in Libraries
    • A blog for exploring and discussing the topics of diversity and multiculturalism in libraries.
  3. DILON: Diversity in Libraries of the North
    • Blog manifesto: To be actively anti-racist; To advocate for diversity in libraries; To provide a safe space for minorities to discuss their experiences; To showcase the work of our members and provide a platform; To act without pretension or exclusion; To encourage and support our members and the wider library community.
  4. Intersections
    • The blog of the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services.
  5. Feral Librarian
  6. Confronting Prejudice: How to Protect Yourself and Help Others (2019)

    1. So You Want To Be A Librarian?
        A fun, colorful guide aimed at high school students and undergraduates. But everyone can use this guide to learn more about the library profession and why libraries are awesome.
    2. Discrimination: What it is, and how to cope (American Psychological Association)
        Provides a list of healthy ways to cope with discrimination
    3. LACUNY Institute 2016: Race Matters: Libraries, Racism, and Antiracism
        Interesting comments from Henry Quon at the end.
    4. McKenzie, L. (2017). Survey reveals overwhelmingly white face of leadership in research libraries.
    5. Sanchez, Bernadette. (2017). 10 healthy strategies youth can use to cope with racial discrimination
        Short article listing 10 coping strategies, incl. exercise, meditate, make time to have fun, talk to folks in your support group, get support, etc.
    6. Coping with Race-Related Stress
        Provides definitions for core terms, lists resulting emotions, and coping strategies, both effective and ineffective.
    7. Warner, J. N. (2001). Moving Beyond Whiteness in North American Academic Libraries. Libri, 51(3). doi:10.1515/libr.2001.167
        Over the last half a century, North American universities have become diverse institutions with multicultural students and programmes in Women’s studies, Black/African studies, regional studies and gay/lesbian/transgender studies. Academic libraries have responded to these changes and today most have policies or programmes in place to support diversity goals. Despite this good start, a closer examination of common collection, service and cataloguing practices reveals that libraries still have a significant way to go before becoming fully inclusive institutions. Using African studies as a case example this article considers current academic library practices which are problematic, or lacking, in terms of moving beyond whiteness.Top down commitment and an allocation of financial and staff resources are needed for academic libraries to shed lingering vestiges of eurocentricism and move forward towards meaningful cultural inclusivity.
    8. Alabi, J. (2015). Racial Microaggressions in Academic Libraries: Results of a Survey of Minority and Non-minority Librarians. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(1), 47–53. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2014.10.008
        There is relatively little literature on racism within the profession of academic librarianship. To investigate academic librarians’ experiences of racism, this research project uses the framework of racial microaggressions, which are subtle, denigrating messages directed toward people of color. According to the results of an online survey, some librarians of color have had racial microaggressions directed at them by their colleagues. Non-minority librarians, however, are unlikely to recognize these disparaging exchanges.
    9. VanScoy, A. (2017). Including the Voices of Librarians of Color in Reference and Information Services Research.
        Librarians of color make up a small proportion of information professionals, but their perspectives should still be included in theory and best practices. This study seeks to create an inclusive understanding of reference and information service (RIS) by exploring the experience of RIS for librarians of color. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, the experience of RIS for eight librarians of color, from various ethnic groups and types of libraries, is analyzed. Five themes of experience emerged from the analysis: uniqueness and difference; broad range of professional skills; messiness and beauty of the human interaction; working in a web of outside forces; and learning, growth, and change. In relation to prior research, findings show that these librarians of color experience reference and information work as multifaceted and user-focused, in common with librarians in general. However, they have unique experiences of reference and information services work because of microaggressions and discrimination and because of their focus on serving as a role model or mentor.
    10. Venopal, J. (2016). The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action.
        In Brief: Despite our ongoing quest for diversity and a growing number of initiatives to increase it, the demographics of the professional librarian population haven’t changed in any significant way. We are starkly lacking in diversity based on race and ethnicity (we are overwhelmingly white), age (librarianship is an aging profession), disability, economic status, educational background, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other demographic and identity markers of difference. This lack of diversity should be seen as a signal, an invitation to us to look critically at our culture, our practices, and our assumptions, and investigate what it is about ourselves and our profession that is preventing underrepresented people from being able to, or even wanting to, enter and stay. We need an awareness of how privilege, bias, and the attendant power differentials and oppression play out at the individual and the systemic levels of our profession. And we must consider how these affect the experiences of underrepresented and marginalized people within our dominant (white, heterosexual, cisgender, and patriarchal) culture. In this article I consider the meaning of diversity in librarianship. Then, using the ClimateQUAL Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment as an example, I analyze the potential problems with our data collection and analysis related to diversity and organizational culture. I conclude by suggesting some practical steps for library leadership and by identifying future directions for research.In this article I consider the meaning of diversity in librarianship. Then, using the ClimateQUAL Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment as an example, I analyze the potential problems with our data collection and analysis related to diversity and organizational culture.
    11. Curry, Deborah A. (1994). Your Worries Ain’t Like Mine: African American Librarians and the Pervasiveness of Racism, Prejudice and Discrimination in Academe, The Reference Librarian, 21:45-46, 299-311.
        In brief – Discusses systemic and individual racism within society and within higher education and considers its effects on the behavior and attitudes of librarians of color and their white colleagues. Highlights include institutional challenges; recruitment; job satisfaction; retention; and racism. (Contains 24 references.)
    12. Johnson, K. (2016). Minority librarians in higher education: A critical race theory analysis (Order No. 10246260). Available From ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1849022353).
        The library profession as a whole is predominantly white with a large discrepancy between the percentage of minorities in the United States in general and the percentage of professional librarians who are minorities. Despite past recruitment efforts, there remains a dearth of minority librarians in higher education and the reasons for this remain unclear. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate minority librarian experiences in higher education and their perceptions of supports and barriers encountered in becoming and being professional librarians. Five themes emerged from the data. The first theme pertained to the spirit of service and activism which was a significant characteristic of all nine interviewees. Theme two showed how mentoring and networking was an important part of the experience of becoming and being an academic librarian. The third theme, microaggressions, showed the prevalence of the daily injustices that minority librarians in higher education often experience. Theme four pertained to the educational and work environments the informants experienced namely predominantly white institutions (PWIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal College and Universities (TCUs). The fifth theme showed how most of the interviewees were “natural born librarians” characterized by the love of libraries and reading. The findings provide new evidence into the experiences and perceptions of minority librarians and will assist library schools in developing programming and curriculum pertinent to librarians of color, assist administration in higher education, particularly in academic libraries, to create environments more conducive to attracting minority librarians, and assist professional library organizations in developing and improving programming designed to increase the ranks of minority librarians in higher education.
    13. Hussey, L. K. (2009). Why librarianship? An exploration of the motivations of ethnic minorities to choose library and information science as a career. Advances in Library Administration and Organization, 153–217.
        Although there is great potential for diversity, library and information science (LIS) is a relatively homogenous profession. Increasing the presence of librarians of color may help to improve diversity within LIS. However, recruiting ethnic minorities into LIS has proven to be difficult despite various initiative including scholarships, fellowships, and locally focused programs. The central questions explored in this research can be divided into two parts: (1) Why do ethnic minorities choose librarianship as a profession? (2) What would motivate members of minority groups to join a profession in which they cannot see themselves? The research was conducted through semi-structured, qualitative interviews of 32 ethnic minority students from one of four ethnic minority groups (African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American) currently enrolled in an LIS graduate program. Eleven themes emerged from the data: libraries, librarians, library work experience, LIS graduate program, career plans and goals, education and family, support, mentors, ethnicity and community, acculturation, and views of diversity. The findings seem to support many assumptions regarding expectations and career goals. The findings related to libraries, librarians, mentors, and support illustrate that many recruitment initiatives are starting in the right place. However, the most noteworthy findings were those that centered on identity, acculturation, and diversity because they dealt with issues that are not often considered or discussed by many in the profession outside of ethnic minority organizations.
    14. Kumaran, M. (2015). Succession planning process that includes visible minority librarians. Library Management, 36(6/7), 434-447.
        The purpose of this paper is to stress the importance of including visible minority librarians in the process of succession planning in academic libraries. In Canada visible minorities is the accepted term used for librarians of color. This paper identifies the challenges faced by these librarians in putting their names forward for administrative/leadership positions and proposes ideas on how to include these librarians in the succession planning processes so the leadership/administrative pool can also reflect the multicultural student demographics.
    15. Miroc Tonin. (2018). Do librarians discriminate? Library Journal
        “African Americans may (and often do) utilize a toolbox of coping strategies to deal with the lingering effects racial stress, which include seeking social support within one’s community (e.g., familial support), briefly limiting one’s exposure to cues of racism (e.g., signing off social media), utilizing religious or spiritual practices for comfort (e.g., prayer), seeking distraction from cues of racism (e.g., engaging in pleasurable activities), and participating in restful and relaxing activities. Also, in the aftermath of recent deaths, many African Americans nationwide have sought solace, received social support and validation, and pursued systemic change through peaceful activism. Regardless the deployed strategy, adaptively coping with racism is an ongoing, evolving process.”
    16. Davis-Kendrick, Kaetrena D. (2015). An Annotated Chronological Bibliography of Diversity, Recruitment, Retention, and Other Concerns Regarding African American and Ethnic Library Professionals in the United States.
    17. Additional article compilation by OLA’s Diversity Committee: Bibliography
  1. ViMLoC: Visible Minority Librarians of Canada Network
    • Is a network which aims to: 1. Connect and represent visible minority librarians in Canada, 2. Empower visible minority librarians of Canada by providing professional development support, 3. Engage, collaborate and support research in the area of visible minority librarianship, 4. Extend support to librarians working with multicultural users and collections
  2. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association
    • Serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.
    • 2016-2020  – Strategic Direction