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ACRL Diversity Alliance: FAQ

Resources for ACRL Diversity Alliance residency coordinators.


Diversity Alliance FAQ

1. How can my institution join the Diversity Alliance?
Joining the ACRL Diversity Alliance requires just two things:

  • An annual commitment to the principles of the program, which includes establishing a 2-3-year residency program, signed by the library director/dean. Any institution whose library dean/director signs a letter committing to these principles is eligible for participation/membership in the ACRL Diversity Alliance.
  • A $500 annual fee to support the program.

To join, download the ACRL Diversity Alliance Letter of Commitment (, complete, and return to ACRL Program Manager for Strategic Initiatives Allison Payne at

ACRL Diversity Alliance badges will be delivered to participating institutions upon receipt of the letter of commitment and payment of annual fees.

2. What are the benefits of joining the Alliance?
There are many benefits to joining the Alliance.  First, your library joins a national effort that, over the long run, improves the pipeline of diverse individuals who will compete for academic and research library jobs.  Second, your library’s diversity committees or residency program coordinators have access to other Alliance institutions and coordinator insights, job postings, and residency rotation schedules.  Joining the Alliance allows your library to connect with, gain encouragement from, and collaborate with institutions doing similar work around diversity. Finally, your library annually receives a digital badge that may be placed on your  website committing yourself to the Diversity Alliance’s principles, and you may include language in your job postings that you are part of the Diversity Alliance. Some current members of the Diversity Alliance have already reported better, more diverse candidate pools since including Diversity Alliance information in their job postings.

3. What does the annual fee cover?
Fees for the Diversity Alliance are set by the ACRL Board of Directors as recommended by the Diversity Alliance Steering Committee/Task Force. Fees are $500 annually and partially offset administrative costs for the program. The ACRL Diversity Alliance Program requires an annual commitment by individual institutions and consortial pricing is not available.

4. Can member institutions pay below an entry level salary, provided they use the difference for professional development for the residents?
Residents working in an institution who is a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance must be paid at least the basic entry level salary for that institution. While we recommend three years for the residency, there are some institutions that have two year limits on temporary appointments. It is ideal to design the residency around introducing the dynamic work of academic and research libraries, not necessarily filling needed job duties.  We believe this introduction/process should inspire residents to become passionate about academic and research library work, thereby retaining them in the field over the long term.  Funds should also be budgeted to support the resident's professional development similar to other entry level librarians. These funds may come from existing professional development funds or from other sources at the discretion of the Library Dean.  

5. What is a residency and how is it different from an internship?
The Diversity Alliance uses the definition adopted by the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) when defining the difference between internships and residencies:

  • Internships and Field Experience: The structured pre-professional work experience which takes place during graduate course work or after course work, but preceding the degree, usually for a short period of time.
  • Residency: The post-degree work experience designed as an entry level program for professionals who have recently received an M.L.S. degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association.

Further, the Diversity Alliance offers and encourages opportunities for residents to network through cohort building experiences at ACRL and ALA conferences and through regular communication with and support from the ACRL Residency Interest Group.  

6. Can a residency have a strategic focus or must it include a rotation of assignments?
It is up to the library to design the experience and it is important for the residency to have a strong learning component. The residency should be designed to introduce the resident to all areas of the academic and research libraries. In many of the residency programs associated with the Diversity Alliance, a rotation happens in the first year, and then in the subsequent years, the resident may focus on an area of interest. As long as the residency schedule is flexible, exposure to other types of work could come from mentorships, professional development programs, etc.

7. How can member institutions advertise for a resident from a professionally underrepresented population when state law prohibits them from giving preference or discriminating in hiring?
The ad does not need to restrict the applicant pool to candidates from underrepresented populations. Institutions can encourage diverse applicants to apply by including their membership in the Diversity Alliance in their job ads. There are also ways to suggest in the language of the ad that the institution is looking for a diversity of talent, skills, and experience without stating that only individuals from diverse backgrounds need apply.

8. How can residency coordinators learn from each other?
We are considering how to best meet their needs. There is currently an electronic mailing list for residency coordinators and if there is interest we can easily create a community of practice for residency program coordinators. We may consider a needs assessment to see how the ACRL Diversity Alliance could best be a resource for coordinators. ACRL does have a member-led Residency Interest Group whose current focus is primarily on residents.

9. Does ACRL have any recommendations for effective practices? What kind of resources are available for DA members?
We are in the initial stages of the launch so our focus up to this point has been to encourage participation. This helps us gauge how many institutions we’ll be working with. Other than the principles outlined in the letter of commitment, ACRL does not have strict guidelines for designing and filling residency positions.

If you’re looking for guidance, the School of Information (iSchool) at San José State University, with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, developed a residency model for recent MLIS graduates, focused on leadership development and integrating emerging technology in diverse types of libraries. Learn more about the Catalyst project and residency model and download the iSchool’s whitepaper on the project on the San José State University website.

There is a task force overseeing the Diversity Alliance and one of the things we will be considering is a needs assessment so that we can better understand what resources would be helpful.  Meanwhile, ACRL’s Residency Interest Group has some helpful resources available on their website (

10. What are the goals of the Diversity Alliance?

  • To instill a passion for academic and research librarianship.
  • To create more opportunities in academic and research librarianship for individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to gain the knowledge, skills and competencies to thrive in an academic context through the creation of residency positions.
  • To open doors, share networks, connect people, and facilitate a deeper understanding of the profession. To prepare residents to participate in the wider higher education community and for success in scholarship, professional service, and leadership.
  • To increase the hiring pipeline of qualified, talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
  • To enrich the profession by introducing new perspectives and encouraging dialogue among librarians from diverse backgrounds.

11. How will ACRL measure the success of the DA?
We are determining interim measures of success but our long-term goal is:  By 2050, the Diversity Alliance will have significantly increased the numbers of underrepresented minorities working in academic and research libraries. 


"The University of Iowa Libraries is pleased to be part of the ACRL Diversity Alliance. Together we strive to create a dynamic community of the libraries who sponsor residency programs and the librarians who benefit from them."

- John Culshaw, University Librarian, University of Iowa Libraries

University of Iowa Main Library