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From Hostile to Inclusive: Strategies for Improving the Racial Climate of Academic Libraries


Despite the presence of programs such as the American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholarship and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce, Library and Information Science (LIS) has not been successful in increasing the number of racial/ethnic minorities in the profession, especially in academic libraries. Though the LIS literature addresses recruitment and retention of people of color, very few articles acknowledge that some individuals from underrepresented populations may experience the profession as chilly or even hostile due to racism, especially as it is manifested in the form of racial microaggressions. Although often delivered unconsciously, these seemingly benign exchanges convey to the recipient negative and denigrating messages about that person’s race or ethnicity. The burden of work relating to diversity and inclusion in the profession has typically been placed on people of color, but those of us who are White also have a responsibility to engage in these endeavors. This article will identify steps that White academic librarians can take to prevent and address racial microaggressions in order to become better allies to our colleagues of color.