We Need More Black Librarians

By Shahid Abdul-Karim, New Englad Register

Of the 38 full-time New Haven Free Public Library employees, Diane Brown is the only professional librarian who is African-American, said Director Martha Brogran.

Brown, 57, who is the branch manager at Stetson library on Dixwell Avenue, said more blacks should consider librarianship as a career option.

“It’s not pushed and promoted in the black community. We talk about becoming other things and having other professions, but it’s rare that you’ll hear people talking about becoming a librarian,” said Brown, who has been the branch manager since 2006.

Brown finished her master’s degree in information technology and library science from Southern Connecticut State University and became a credentialed librarian in 2004.
“I’m concerned with who’s going to pick up the baton when I leave,” said Brown. “I’m open to mentor anyone from our community who maybe considering librarianship as a career path.”

Brown has attended career fairs locally and nationally trying to recruit more African-Americans.

“With all the technology we have now, the face of libraries is changing,” she said. “They’re not just places where people check out books; it’s becoming more appealing to the community and newer populations of individuals.”

Nationally, the numbers of black and brown librarians are dismal.

A diversity report by the American Library Association,, showed that among a total credentialed library population of 118,666, only 6,160 are black and 3,661 are Latino.

Whites make up 104,392 credentialed librarians in the nation, while black males came in at just 563, the report said.

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