Diversity in Library HR

Agnes K. Bradshaw, Assistant University Librarian for Organizational Development at Virginia Commonwealth University libraries, writes in Strengthening the pipeline-talent management for libraries: A human resources perspective (2015) that librarianship as a profession ought to aim for increasing the diversity of its workforce. She argues that librarianship is similar to other professions and therefore should use an intentional HR approach to recruit and retain librarians of color. This might sound obvious, but libraries aren’t always run like businesses—and in many ways, this is a good thing, since some libraries are bastions of democracy.

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Bradshaw covers why libraries should be concerned with talent management (including competing for talent); demographic information in LIS; and how to increase diversity (increasing educational opportunities, providing steps on the career ladder, shifting focus to diversity, focusing on recruitment and retention). She stresses that in every stage of the process, there needs to be commitment from leadership; mentoring; and career development opportunities.

As much as I jokingly disparaged HR to my fellow business student friends when I was getting my business degree, the foundation of all management activity is essentially Human Resources—without people, there is no organization. Bradshaw stresses that an effective talent management strategy ensures that the widest possible segment of the available population has access to educational and promotional opportunities. Most librarians, I would guess, probably agree that talent management is important; and, study after study confirm that librarians are committed to increasing diversity of the workforce. Unfortunately, data shows that they just don’t yet seem to be very good at it.


Bradshaw, A. K. (2015). Strengthening the pipeline-talent management for libraries: A human resources perspective. In Hankins, R., & Juárez, M. Where are all the librarians of color?: The experiences of people of color in academia, pp. 95-131. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

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