The more things change, the more they stay the same: Educational and disciplinary backgrounds of American librarians, 1950-2015

Rachel Ivy Clarke, Young In Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Discussions of diversity in American librarianship usually focus on gender or ethnicity, but historical studies also show a lack of diversity in educational and disciplinary backgrounds. Librarians traditionally hail from the humanities, especially English and history. But as current educational attention shifts to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, are librarians reflecting this change? Anonymized data from ALA-accredited graduate programs from the last five years were collected, coded, and classified to determine librarians' educational and disciplinary backgrounds and in what ways, if any, they differ from the past 65 years and from the contemporary US general population. Unsurprisingly, we found that contemporary librarians still hail predominantly from English and history'a stark contrast from the business and health undergraduate degrees earned by the general US population. Backgrounds in STEM fields remain lacking in librarianship, but librarians with undergraduate education in the arts are on the rise, perhaps supporting the creativity, flexibility, innovation, and risk taking necessary in twenty-first-century libraries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-205
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Education for Library and Information Science
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Academic disciplines
  • Bachelor degrees
  • Educational diversity
  • LIS education
  • Undergraduate education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences

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