Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All the Librarians are White Women; All the Black Men are Professional Athletes, But Some are Brave.

The above echoes the title of the 1982 Black feminist anthology, All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave: Black Women's Studies. I co-opted that title because I think it is brave to be a Black man in librarianship today, especially when Black men are routinely stereotyped as lazy, hypersexual, criminal, and dangerous. But I give a lot of respect to my Native American colleagues, who are often stereotyped as drunk and lazy. Librarianship does not seem to be welcoming Native American men with open arms.

According to American Library Association 2009-2010 statistics, about 563 of 118, 666 credentialed librarians are African American men. (Diversity Counts 2012 Tables, Table A1)  Less than one half of one percent of all credentialed librarians are Black men. These statistics, however depressing, are significantly higher than those for my Native American/Alaskan colleagues, which total 8 (Table A1).

That's right. According to ALA statistics only 8 Native American/Alaskan men were credentialed librarians during 2009-2010. Some of us are very brave.

Diversity counts!

An organization for a profession that is still overwhelmingly white and female (72.5% of all credentialed librarians fit those demographics), ALA has worked diligently to create a diverse librarianship. It has created scholarships and developed programs to encourage people of color to become librarians. Diversity, of course, should not be limited to ethnicity and race. Gender, sexual orientation, and physical/mental differences contribute to a diverse profession. Unfortunately, ALA does not appear to have created programs and scholarships specifically to attract members of the LBTG (Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Gay) and physically/mentally challenged communities.

And although ALA does not seem to generate official statistics for these populations, I bet  more than a few members join librarianship every year.

We have a lot of brave people in this profession. 

CORRECTION:  I incorrectly stated that 83% of all credentialed librarians are white and female. Although that demographics is still the majority, the correct number is 72.5%. I apologize for the typo.

Diversity Counts 2012 Tables. (2012). American Library Association Office for Diversity. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/diversity/diversitycounts/diversitycountstables2012.pdf


  1. Great post! Just shared on our Diversity in Libraries blog: http://libdiversity.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/all-the-librarians-are-white-women-all-the-black-men-are-professional-athletes-but-some-are-brave/


  2. Being a white female librarian at an HBCU I find this very interesting. Even at my library, while we have many black male employees, there is only one black male librarian. Are there statistics on minority males with library degrees?