Academic libraries operate under the assumption that there is one “right candidate” for a multi-layered position and that a search committee, a group of individuals formed with the purpose of assisting a responsible administrator in the recruiting and screening of candidates for a posted academic position, is the fairest and most equitable approach to hiring academic librarians. That assumption is running up against the fact that libraries and academic libraries in particular have an acknowledged a problem with recruiting and retaining librarians of color. According to the latest edition of the American Library Association Diversity Counts report, librarianship remains an overwhelmingly white profession: approximately 88% of credentialed academic librarians are white. There are countless articles bemoaning the state of racial diversity in librarianship and multiple research studies have made recommendations for creating a better culture for diversity, assessing diversity initiatives in librarianship, and retaining librarians of color. However there are no empirical research studies in library literature that have examined the ways in which libraries hire and recruit librarians for diversity. In fact much of the literature perpetuates the idea of hiring a candidate who is a “good cultural fit,” which ultimately is a practice of reproducing the status quo. This paper examines the ways in which hiring practices in academic libraries perpetuate whiteness and undermine libraries’ attempts to recruit for diversity.

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Copyright © Association of College and Research Libraries. This conference proceeding first appeared in Recasting the Narrative: The Proceedings of the ACRL 2019 Conference, April 10–13, 2019, Cleveland, Ohio.

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