WELLESLEY, Mass. -- The Wellesley College Library will
collaborate with the libraries of several other institutions
on a major project to address librarian recruiting and
diversity issues at the undergraduate level. According
to a recent study, an estimated 60 percent of current
librarians will reach retirement age by 2020, resulting
in a serious shortage of librarians to staff libraries
of all types.
Joining Wellesley are Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, Occidental,
and Swarthmore Colleges and the Atlanta University Center,
serving Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse and Spelman
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $500,000
to support this multi-tiered program with the goal of
developing a model that addresses recruiting at an early
stage in students' education, just as they are
beginning to think seriously about career choices. Broad-based,
issues-oriented programming will familiarize undergraduate
students with significant challenges facing the library
profession, draw their attention to the potential of
librarianship as a career, and alert them to the more
selective internship opportunities of the project. "We
are delighted that Wellesley is a participant in this
innovative initiative to recruit the next generation
of librarians," said Micheline Jedrey, Vice President
for Information Services and College Librarian.
The initiative also is designed to broaden the racial and ethnic composition
of the library profession in order to better serve increasingly diverse
populations. All four federally-defined under-represented groups (African
Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans)
make up a disproportionately small percentage of practicing librarians. "The
participating schools are well-positioned to address this important
goal of the project, given the composition of their student bodies," notes
Ray English, Oberlin Director of Libraries and Project Coordinator.
Each campus will inaugurate the effort with programs
focusing on major issues that emphasize librarianship
as a changing and dynamic profession
critical to the strength of a democratic society. Programming at
Wellesley this fall will focus on the Patriot Act and
its potential impact on
the delivery of library services.
Among other topics to be addressed
will be the economics of information; information literacy and critical
thinking skills needed to take advantage
of an increasingly complex information environment; and issues of
diversity and multiculturalism in librarianship.
A second component of the project is a selective undergraduate internship
experience designed to give students at each campus a thorough understanding
of librarianship as a profession. In addition to learning about the
nature of professional library work, participants will complete projects
under librarian mentors and also participate in summer internships
at other libraries.
In subsequent stages of the project it is anticipated
that post-baccalaureate intern positions and graduate library school
scholarships will be
awarded competitively among the participating institutions.