Tulane’s HTML takes action towards demand for librarians of color by creating new fellowship program

Information is more accessible now than ever before. With a digital landscape on the internet that has no limits to how much information or data can be stored, anyone has the resources to get exactly the information they want with the tap of a finger on a screen.

This is, however, creating a decrease in the significance of libraries. Though basically anything written nowadays is automatically stored online, not every piece of information created throughout history can be made accessible for everyone. Libraries are still needed for this duty.

Like other branches of the information industry, including materials taught in our education systems, libraries are run by staff that do not reflect the backgrounds of the civilians they serve. According to the American Library Association, 86.7 percent of librarians in the United States in 2017 were white, while 4.4 percent and 4.7 percent of librarians were black and Hispanic/Latinx, respectively.

These statistics prompt questions about possible biases and inclusion of narratives. Such questions include “how do we know what pieces of data are taken care of more than others?”, or “are all viewpoints from different people being accounted for in a historical event?”

Fortunately, there are libraries recognizing this disparity in their organizations, including Tulane’s very own Howard Tilton Memorial Library. HTML is already in the process of recruiting candidates for its Library Fellowship.

As stated on the fellowship’s website, “The library profession is changing. Diverse communities of students are using libraries in new and exciting ways. A new generation of racially and ethnically diverse librarians is needed to provide leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services.”

Libraries are hotspots with resources frequently used in places where diversity is present, such as cities and university campuses. For example, New York City’s library system had a total circulation of 35 million people using its services. According to Elton B. Stephens Co., 64 percent of college students use resources found in libraries.

Tulane, although still a predominantly white institution, is taking a step towards inclusion of marginalized groups by offering this opportunity.

“The [Howard Tilton Memorial] Library is pleased to announce the Library Fellowship program to encourage culturally underrepresented students to explore the field of librarianship as a potential career path and to participate in the development of a more accessible library,” the website reads.

HTML is currently in the process of selecting fellows for the fall, and there is a plan to recruit a new cohort of fellows in the spring.

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