About Equitable Voices in Libraries

After decades of various diversity initiatives, new avenues and dialogue on achieving diversity among library and information studies (LIS) students and the library workforce are still needed.

The Equitable Voices in Libraries blog rose out the work from the IMLS grant, Telling Our Stories: Community Building to Recruit and Retain Latinx to the Library Profession (RE-00-17-0130-17). This grant has been a four–year project which explores workplace realities among librarians of color focusing on retention successes and shortcomings. 

Guiding questions: 

  1. ” What efforts exist to support and retain librarians of color, particularly those of Latinx background?” 
  2. “What are effective support mechanisms?,” 
  3. ” How can leaders address inequitable library work environments?”

The blog is part of a multi-level project that included

  • travel scholarships for LIS students to attend the 3rd National Joint Librarians of Color Conference
  • a program at the 2019 ALA Annual in Washington, D.C.
  • this national study on BIPOC librarian support and retention

Although the grant focused primarily on the recruitment, retention and advancement of Latinx to the library profession, as time came for the national survey, the focus was broadened to include all the ethnic affiliates within NALCo. 

The Equitable Voices in Libraries highlights the project. It includes a summary of the forum held at the  3rd  National Joint Librarians of Color Conference / Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 2018 where 17 LIS students received travel grants to attend the conference and attend a café style forum. The forum enabled all to learn ways to advance in their careers, including professional development opportunities offered by involvement in REFORMA and the other ethnic affiliates.

In addition, the findings and recommendations from the survey, Telling Our Stories: Recruitment and Retention of BIPOC Library Workers.

And lastly, bibliographies and resources on the recruitment, retention and advancement of librarians of color to the library and information science field.


Thank you to all my colleagues who have helped me in many ways with this project. It has been a team effort and I am thankful for their time, effort and motivation: 

David Lopez, Sandra Toro, Lauren Turner, Manny Mendez, Tania María Ríos, Lindsey Moses and Miguel Juarez.

Thank you to the survey project team: Jesus Espinoza, George Gottschalk, Louis Muñoz Jr., Ana Ndumu, Ray Pun, Tina Rollins, and Denisse Solis 

Also a special thanks go to the Executive Boards of REFORMA (2017-2021) for their support and the encouragement extended to me along the way in completing the projects of the grant.  I could not have reached this far without an additional thank you to Gloria Grover and Denice Adkins. 

I am hoping all the LIS students benefited from attending the JCLC Conference in Albuquerque and that the survey captures the vibrant voices of librarians of color and helps to further the conversation on supporting and recognizing the voices of all librarians and truly diversifying the profession.

Tess Tobin

REFORMA President, 2017-2018

November 2021

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