LIS education, undergraduate education, bachelor degrees, educational diversity, academic disciplines
Library and Information Science
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 was 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 21st century libraries.
Clarke, Rachel Ivy and Kim, Young-In, "The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same: Educational and Disciplinary Backgrounds of American Librarians, 1950-2015" (2018). School of Information Studies: Faculty Scholarship. 178.
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