Recruiting New LIS Students

I was excited to read recently that ALA is sponsoring a series of informational workshops with the hopes of recruiting a wider pool of students interested in library & information science. The workshops, which are an IMLS-funded partnership between the ALA Office for Diversity & Spectrum Scholarship Program and LIS graduate programs in 5 different cities, will offer a variety of information, including: an overview of what LIS graduate education entails, career options, and application advice & guidance. 

These workshops are part of the Knowledge Alliance project, which aims to “highlight careers in library and information science for high school and undergraduate college students by allowing early career librarians to serve as recruiters for the profession at career fairs and student events across the country. […] This innovative program creates a network of diverse library colleagues who serve as resources for individuals interested in pursuing library and information science careers.”

Undergraduates are faced with numerous career options. We need to let them know that LIS is one of those choices! (Image)

Undergraduates are faced with numerous career options. We need to let them know that LIS is one of those choices! (CC Attribution 2.0 licensed image from Flickr user o5com)

This is the first I’ve heard of this project, but I have to say I’m fairly excited about it. When I was a wee undergrad I became vaguely interested in library science as a field and, luckily, had a number of professors and mentors who guided me through developing that interest.  Due to their guidance, I was able to gain the experiences and knowledge that made it possible for me to apply for LIS graduate programs during my senior year. I feel very fortunate that I figured out what I wanted to do early on and had supporters who helped me achieve my goals. But not everyone has similar circumstances – many of my friends came to library science later in their academic/professional careers, and often because LIS was never presented as a clear option earlier on. Similarly, while you can gain a lot of information by doing a prospective student visit at a particular graduate program, you often spend most of your time talking to admissions counselors, not faculty/students/career librarians (not to knock admissions counselors!).

One of the best parts of these workshops, and the Knowledge Alliance project, is that they offer new professionals a way to give back to the field right away. As many of you just graduated, and many more will graduate in the coming year, think about contacting your graduate program or the nearest graduate program (if you relocate for a job) and expressing your interest in helping out with recruiting/information events like this. As professionals fresh out of your program you will have some of the best knowledge and advice to give to students who are considering an LIS career. So find a way to turn around and tell others considering LIS about your experiences, both good and bad. As other HLS writers have suggested, be the change you want to see in your program and be the change you want to see in librarianship! One-on-one conversations are certainly great, but venues like these workshops provide larger opportunities to reach a variety of students through ALA/university partnerships.

Have you found effective ways to promote the field of librarianship to newcomers? Did a particular person or event spark your interest in the field? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!

1 reply

  1. Interesting post, Nicole! As I approach graduation, I find myself pondering whether I should actively promote the LIS career direction or not. On the one hand, we don’t necessarily want to attract large numbers of new students to a profession already inundated with recent graduates. Conversely, there are many amazing people out there who would enhance the work we do. We don’t want to pull the ladder up after us. So I like your emphasis on diversity recruitment (though the verb “recruit” connotes pugnacity).

    I’d like to add that many state library associations have Library Personnel Recruitment member groups (FLA does) and would love to have current MLIS students or recent grads on those committees to provide perspective!


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