Huffington Post blog examines the need for libraries to reflect the diversity of their communities

As librarians prepare to convene at the second national Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, Sept. 19-23 in Kansas City, Mo., the co-chairs of the conference have addressed a serious issue facing libraries today in a post in the Huffington Post blog.

The blog post, Libraries and the Demographic Shift, was written by Haipeng Li, university Librarian at the Hong Kong Baptist University, and Janice M. Rice, outreach coordinator for the College Library, the undergraduate library, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

They write, “Although libraries strive to reflect the communities that they serve, there is a wide cultural and linguistic gap between the people behind the desk and those they face on the other side.”

Although, they say, that library services will be in growing demand, “since demographers predict that by the year 2050, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latino/Hispanics, and Native Americans will constitute the majority of Americans,”  they caution that the “majority of library employees are not a true representation of the community at large.”

They say that, “According to the American Library Association (ALA), out of the 6,608 ALA-accredited library science master’s degrees awarded in the U.S. in 2008-2009 (the most recent year for which data is available) only 5 percent went to Hispanics (333), 4.7 percent were awarded to African Americans (313), 3.8 percent to Asian/Pacific Islanders (252) and .6 percent to American Indians (38).”

This year’s JCLC features Emmy® winner Sonia Manzano, voted one of the most influential Hispanics by People en Espanol for her work playing Maria on “Sesame Street,” will welcome attendees at the opening keynote.  Author, director and activist Jamal Joseph will present the closing general session.  There will be numerous opportunities to network and socialize, including an opening reception at the beautiful Kansas City Public Library’s central branch.

JCLC provides a unique setting for learning with three pre-conferences and more than 70 concurrent sessions in five tracks—Advocacy, Outreach and Collaboration; Collections, Programs and Services; Deep Diversity and Cultural Exchange; Leadership, Management and Organizational Development; and Technology and Innovation.

Author luncheons will allow attendees to get up close and personal with award-winning authors, including David Treuer, Lauren Myracle, Sharon Flake, and Da Chen, and a busy exhibit hall will feature the latest from library vendors and partners.

JCLC is sponsored by the five associations of ethnic librarians—the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. Learn more about JCLC by visiting


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