Diversity Residency Programs: What’s Often Done Right & Wrong, and What the Future May Hold for Academic Libraries
Diversity residency programs have been initiated by many academic libraries as a way to increase diversity in the profession. The ultimate goal of these programs is retention of ethnic minorities in a field where ethnic minorities are underrepresented, with the residency itself tailored to give the resident real work experience that can make them competitive for jobs at institutions where they otherwise may not have had the experience and/or skill set to compete. Given that these programs have an underlying goal of facilitating retention of librarians of color in the profession, it is critical that diversity residents have positive experiences during their residencies and complete their residencies with both a positive attitude toward the profession and an enhanced skill set that distinguishes them from other candidates in applicant pools. However, little research has been conducted to evaluate the quality and impact of diversity residency programs.
In this talk, Alston will present findings from his research, which used both surveys and interviews, and sought to understand diversity residents’ experiences in programs hosted by academic libraries. Specifically, Alston will discuss four factors that correlate positively with diversity residents’ overall views of their residency experience, as well as six emergent themes wherein residents encountered satisfaction or dissatisfaction if certain elements were present in the residency. He will conclude by presenting ideas for future research and practice related to diversity residency programs.
Jason K. Alston, PhD is currently an information literacy librarian at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Alston completed his PhD at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science in May 2017. Alston holds a masters of library science from North Carolina Central University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He served as the first diversity resident at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and other professional experience includes serving as a newspaper reporter for The Henderson Daily Dispatch in North Carolina, as well as serving as a public services librarian for Forsyth County Public Library in Winston-Salem, N.C. and for Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina. Alston taught as an adjunct for the University of South Carolina while completing his degree, and hopes to become teaching faculty for a library and information science program. His areas of interest include diversity in libraries, intellectual freedom specifically related to hate groups and hate materials, and information dissemination through mass media.