The Library Journal reported on an ACRL study investigating how to get a more "diverse" workforce. I haven't read the ACRL study, but I'm sure it would be a waste of time, since like all "diversity" studies it seems to be founded on the unreasonable notion that the library staff doesn't mirror the population and that this is a problem. Or, as the article puts it: "The chronic disparity between the demographics of academic library staff and the demographics of the U.S. population is well-covered ground in the existing literature."
Apparently this ground is well covered by people who need to publish something, anything, to get tenure, because it should be bloody obvious to anyone. Librarians are mostly overweight, middle-aged, white women. Most of the rest of the population isn't, though a lot of it is. This isn't a problem that affects users. It's a problem for people who manufacture a crisis based on a false assumption not only that it would be a good thing it the library staff were demographically identical to the rest of the country, but that this is even possible. Instead of just saying we're trying to help librarians from a racial minority, why do we have to come up with all this illogical garbage about diversity and demographics? It's all just a boondoggle to fatten up some diversity mavens in the bureaucracy and try to make affirmative action sound like something different. Because if you speak in the language of demographics, it's easier to avoid the word "quotas." But what else could this possibly be but a quota system? We can help people and even recruit more minorities without this foolish rationale.
Why should librarians demographically mirror the rest of the country? Why pick on the librarians? How come no one ever says that the NFL or the NBA should demographically mirror the rest of the country? That never seems to bother the diversity mavens. I read somewhere that most of the independently owned donut shops in Los Angeles are owned by Cambodians. Why isn't someone complaining that donut shops don't demographically mirror the rest of the country? I read somewhere else that Indian immigrants own a disproportionate number of hotels in America. Should we make those Indians sell some hotels to Latinos?
Besides being based on a manufactured crisis, there's another problem with the diversity demographic argument. Nothing demographically mirrors the population of America except America. Nowhere, in no endeavor, will you find a coherent group of people who demographically mirror America. I challenge you to name an occupation where this is the case.
You can't do it, of course, because it can't be done. People can fret about not achieving the impossible all they like, but it won't change anything. It just makes them look silly for fretting.
Of course the new study changes the game a bit. It suggests "a more strategic goal: having a library staff that reflects the population it serves." Librarianship doesn't demographically mirror the American population, and neither does higher education. But can't we make librarians demographically mirror the population they serve? Why bother, I might ask, but I know the real reason. Everybody knows this can't be done and never will be done, for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with racism. But you can't argue with these diversity mavens. Point out their flawed logic and they call you a racist and get you sent to sensitivity training. My problem isn't that I'm insensitive, it's just that I'm intelligent and critical. Political ideologues don't want intelligent and critical people to disagree with them, though. It's bad for business--in this case the business of building up a diversity bureaucracy.
How can librarianship possibly mirror the population it serves? Does this mean that at someplace like Berkeley, where over 40% of the students are Asian, should fire its non-Asian workforce until the librarians are 40% Asian as well? That's what the demographic quota would mean. Maybe 40% of the Berkeley librarians are Asian now, but not the ones I know.
And why is it just the librarians? Why not the professors? Should 40% of the professors at Berkeley be Asian?
But let's ignore the gibberish about diversity and demographics. It's a stupid argument with no logical basis. Let's just say we want to recruit more minorities into the profession. The study lists three things that could help.
First: "Develop a comprehensive, collaborative recruitment and public awareness campaign for recruitment, eliminating duplication and channeling all efforts through one resource. The nursing profession, which also suffers from a chronic staffing shortage, provides a "fully developed, functional, and proven successful model" with discovernursing.com, a project of various national nurses' organizations and Johnson & Johnson. The proposed clearinghouse of information should be accompanied by a print, radio, and TV recruitment ads."
If this were to be done, it would most likely be done through the ALA, which means it would be a disaster. Still, note the comparison to nursing, which "also suffers from a chronic staffing shortage" (my emphasis). But as we all know, that "also" is a lie. Librarianship doesn't suffer from a chronic staff shortage. If there were a staff shortage, then librarian salaries would go up, as nurses salaries do. How thick do librarians have to be not to see this for the gibberish it is? No, please don't answer that. We have no staffing shortage, but instead, allegedly, a diversity shortage. So by all means recruit more minorities into a glutted profession without enough jobs. Yes, that's doing our part to help the less well off. Let's dupe everybody equally.
Second: "Retain minority librarians by creating a welcoming and flexible environment that considers work culture issues, honors employee values and opinion, offers compensation and rewards, provides good management, and recognizes the need for work-life balance. All hires benefit from such an environment, the report notes, but it is "especially significant for retention of minority hires" because those staffers often lack a built-in support network."
If libraries don't do this for the employees they have now, why would they do it for anyone else? This essentially claims that libraries are run by heartless idiots who don't value their employees. That's possibly true, but are we supposed to believe these heartless idiots are suddenly going to start caring about "diverse" employees? Are we to believe the heartless idiots care about anything more than making their "diversity" quotas? These people aren't interested in creating happy employees; they're interested in pleasing the diversity bureaucracy. If they cared about anyone, we would have all these things now.
Third: "Advance minority hires to management positions. As the authors note, this is one topic the 2002 paper did not address. Ways to groom minority staff for leadership roles include providing opportunities for mentoring; shadowing leaders; soliciting nominations for awards and recognitions; job rotations; and support for participation in fellowships and institutes. The report also recommends tracking openings for top jobs and the 'available leadership pool' of minority candidates, and developing subsequent data reports. The goal is to create 'a system of accountability regarding the retention of advancement of underrepresented groups in libraries.'"
If only there was a system of accountability for everyone. This sort of preferential treatment doesn't bother me much, except that I think it's being cruel to minority hires to put them in library management. There's no more thankless or annoying task than being a library manager, especially in a library where everyone has tenure. Still, one has to wonder why every employee doesn't deserve to be treated well.
All this has nothing to do with helping minorities and everything to do with making some librarians feel better about themselves. If we really wanted to help minorities, why would we try to recruit them to be librarians? Is it for the low pay and the dull work? Or is it to get them to spend some money for library school and waste a year or two on tedious groupwork? Are we really so selfish that we would want to make these minorities miserable just so we can feel better about our quotas?
If we really want to help minorities, then let's recruit them to be nurses, where the pay is better and there's a demand. I don't think we should be recruiting any more people into librarianship. Doing so is just a way to make other people suffer like we do.