The Anchorage Director of Human Resources has changed the requirements for the Director of Libraries position. The requirements no longer say that a person must have a master’s degree in library science.
Human Resources Director Niki Tshibaka’s decision is partly a response to a pilot project launched at the library over a year ago. The Library Division noted that applicants with strong skills and diverse backgrounds were excluded from library jobs. Libraries are now run by what is essentially a cartel of middle-aged white women.
The issue during the pilot was fairness, and ensuring that people working in the library can bring diverse backgrounds, skills and cultural perspectives. One of the reasons for the pilot was that ‘strong applicants who had skills and experiences applicable to the library, but not directly in a library environment, often failed to pass the HR screening, resulting in a greater consistency in hiring and hampered the ability of the library to have staff with diverse backgrounds and skills, ”noted library management at the time.
Open the hiring process to “more applicants with non-library backgrounds.” . . makes the applicant pool more diverse in terms of skills and cultural identities, as people with library experience tend to come from similar educational and cultural backgrounds[.]”
The Library also concluded that “[b]Having access to a wider range of applicants, the library is able to uncover hidden gems that bring new perspectives and skills to the library team that we might not have found otherwise[.]”
According to the Zippia website, 81% of librarians are white, and most of those white are women around 48:
“64.1% of all librarians are women, while 30.5% are men. The average age of a salaried librarian is 48. The most common ethnicity of librarians is white (81.4%), followed by Hispanics or Latinos (6.8%) and blacks or African Americans (6.0%), ”the website notes on the ‘use.
The number of Native Americans with master’s degrees in library science is so small that it is not even documented. But by the 1990s, it was below 200 nationwide.
The American Library Association and the Alaska branch of that organization are fiercely opposed to hiring people without an MLS degree. The association likens it to hiring a police chief who has no police experience.
Earlier this year, the Anchorage Assembly refused to confirm the mayor’s choice of Sami Graham as director of libraries, even though she had extensive experience in running schools, including school libraries. After that, Mayor Dave Bronson appointed Judy Eledge, an educator, to this post; she also does not have a librarianship degree and later, when it became apparent that the Assembly would not confirm her, she returned to the post of Assistant Librarian. The Bronson administration is now looking for someone nationwide to lead Anchorage Libraries.
The case became particularly political because the Loussac Library was, under Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and unelected Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, become a cesspool of drug addicts, children’s drag queens, and people browsing porn on Internet.
Since his appointment, Eledge has worked to clean libraries and make them safe for children again, much to the dismay of the nine Liberal members of the assembly who oppose the Bronson administration.