Telling Our Stories: Community Building to Recruit and Retain Latinx to the Library Profession

REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking is applying for a Laura Bush 21st Century National Forum Grant to offer a series of activities throughout the year to examine and explore the recruitment and retention of Latinx to the library profession. 

Project Goals:

For recruitment to be successful, sustained long-term recruitment efforts are needed which include job placement/recruitment, retention and promotion. This project will explore and examine the issues, challenges and shortcomings in the recruitment of a diverse workforce with a focus on Latinx. Some questions that will be asked are what efforts are in place to recruit Latinos to LIS programs?  What happens to these LIS students once they graduate from library school?  What types of job placement services exist?  What efforts are being made to retain Latino librarians?  Which staff support systems and staff training and development programs are in place to help these new librarians advance in their career?  What leadership opportunities are available?

The project will conduct a series of activities to include a virtual discussion of six scholars to review and discuss current recruitment efforts; participation of 15 LIS students at the 6th REFORMA National Conference, a working lunch at RNCVI to gain insight into the work of REFORMA; webinars on library services to the Latino and Spanish speaking and finally, a program at ALA Annual in New Orleans to report findings from the year-ling activities and where do we go from here with real-time discussions and feedback.  

The Need:

The 2015 ACS Survey estimates the Hispanic population in the United States to be 56.6 million. As this number grows, the work of REFORMA is more important than ever. Although efforts have been made to offer scholarships to attract Latinos to the profession, there is a need to recruit and retain more Latinx to enter the field. The 2014 American Library Association (ALA) Demographic Study still shows that the organization remains 87.1% white and only 3.9% of the membership listed their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino. 

Research of diversity recruitment efforts in the U.S. found that much work is still needed for the library profession to have a truly representative culturally diverse workforce.  A literature review from 2012 on recruiting Latinos to the library profession indicates that more in depth research in the area of recruitment is needed. Our proposal presents activities that will further awareness and provide insight into the recruitment, retention and leadership development of Latinos entering the library profession. 

The Project:

A series of activities sponsored by REFORMA will examine current recruitment efforts of Latinos and what needs to improve to increase the numbers and attract new professionals to the field of librarianship. These activities will take place before, during and after the 6th REFORMA National Conference to be held in San Juan, PR in September 2017.  

Activity 1: Literature Review and Virtual Discussion Forum

A call will go out to scholars working in this area to participate in a virtual discussion group.  Using the Laura Bush 21st Century Grant Program Evaluation (Grant Years 2003- 2009) Report as guidance, they will establish a research agenda to review current recruitment efforts t to see what is working and what is not. A blog will be created to host the forum, post current research and provide a vehicle for others to share their thoughts, ideas and suggestions. 

Activity 2: The 6th REFORMA National Conference Attendance Grants

The grant funds will cover conference registration, airfare and three-day hotel accommodations for 15 first-time REFORMA attendees, young professionals, students of Library and Information Studies (LIS) and those working in LIS jobs to attend the conference.

All attendees to RNCVI will learn from distinguished community-changing speakers who have discovered and implemented effective solutions to the challenges facing today’s libraries. RNCVI will offer a multitude of opportunities, including timely and informative pre-conference seminars, author readings, continuing education workshops, enlightening panel discussions, vendor exhibits and more. The conference is expected to draw over 500 library and information professionals.  RNCVI will also broaden participants’ knowledge of the culture and history of the Caribbean whose populations they may serve in the United States

Activity 3: REFORMA: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going

A panel discussion program and working lunch at RNCVI of REFORMISTAS who will share their expertise and talk about their experiences working with Latinos and the needs of Latinos today. Grant recipients will be required to attend this session to gain insight into the work of REFORMA and what they, as new professionals, can offer to the organization. Small group discussions will take place resulting in recommendations/suggestions to improve Latino outreach and services. This program would be recorded and posted on the REFORMA web page for other to see and share.

Activity 4: Success and Challenges in Providing Library Services to Latinos: Best Practices

Two webinars will be offered in the Spring 2018. Panel will include REFORMISTAS working in the field to share their knowledge and experiences. Marketing will be focus on new professionals and LIS. Outreach also to libraries serving Latinos but no Spanish speaking staff. 

Activity 5: Diversifying the Profession

A panel discussion program will be held at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference where findings from the yearlong activities will be presented. Speakers will include scholars who participated in the Virtual Forum Discussion activity. The evaluators will also be asked to participate in the panel.

Anticipated Outcome:

These activities will add to the literature on recruiting Latinos to the library profession while also giving exposure to the current issues in serving the Latino community.  It will acknowledge the dedicated work of REFORMA so the organization can continue its legacy of building relationships and improving services to support the Latino community and encourage a new generation of librarians to become RFORMISTAS so they can carry on the great work of REFORMA. 

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