AFRICAN AMERICANS IN LIBRARY PROFESSIONS:

THE KENTUCKY CONNECTION

What are Library Professions?

Library Professions employ librarians and information specialists who help bridge the gap between you and your information needs. These are the people who assist you in finding information such as books, articles, and documents. They also assist you with access to information in electronic form such as CD-ROMS, the Internet, and online databases.

Library Professions offer information career choices. People from diverse backgrounds are needed within the professions to insure that diverse information needs are being met.

This page is being presented to you as one of the many projects of the 1997 LAMA Cultural Diversity Grant. LAMA stands for Library Administration and Management Association. The organization is a division of the American Library Association.

The LAMA Cultural Diversity Grant is awarded annually to assist with the commitment to diversity in library institutions, and to assist with the recruitment of future minority librarians. The initial year, 1997, there was an award of $1000.00. The Grant was received by Reinette F. Jones, Librarian at the University of Kentucky. To learn more about the grant and the organizations, click on the terms below.


From the First African American Library
To the University of Kentucky School of Library & Information Science

Kentucky was the first state to have a full-service public library for African Americans. In 1905 the Louisville Free Public Library Western Colored Branch opened in Louisville, Kentucky. Thomas Fountain Blue was manager of the library, and he is also responsible for establishing the first library training program for African Americans in the South. To learn more about the history of African American Librarians in Kentucky click here.

Today, library students attend the University of Kentucky School of Library and Information Science. The library school is a department of the College of Communications and Information Studies. The University of Kentucky library program is one of 56 library programs accredited by the American Library Association.

What are the steps to becoming a Librarian or Information Professional?


Coming Together

Prior to desegregation in the 1960s, Kentucky African American librarians were employed in Negro colleges and schools. Ms. Emma B. Lewis was Kentucky's first college trained Negro librarian. Lewis was employed at the Kentucky State Industrial College in 1930. Today the Industrial College is known as Kentucky State University.

There is no longer a separation of colleges, schools, or librarians based on race. Minority librarians and information professionals are hired at all the various types of libraries throughout the state and country. According to the 1997 Bowker Annual, there are more than 32,000 libraries in the United States. Elementary and secondary school libraries are not included in the total, though many librarians are employed in these libraries.

Where do Librarians and Information Professionals work?

*Source: The Bowker Annual (1997), published by R. R. Bowker in New Providence, New Jersey.


Changing of Job Responsibilities

In 1935 the Kentucky Department of Education mandated that school librarians have formal training. Proper training would allow the librarians to better manage the book collections and provide better service to students. Six colleges within Kentucky offered library classes.

Thomas Fountain Blue's library training program had ended in Louisville, KY. African American library students attended classes at Hampton Institute Library School in Virginia, Morehouse-Spelman Summer School in Atlanta, Georgia, or Fisk University in Tennessee.

Things have changed quite a bit since 1935, in that library studies programs prepare students for a much broader job market. School librarianship is only one of the many job titles available to librarians and information professionals.

What are some of the job responsibilites of Librarians and Information Professionals?


Annual Salary

How much money does a Librarian or Information Professional earn?

According to the 1997 Bowker Annual, beginners entering the professions will earn an average of about $28,500 per year. The average is even higher for those who are employed in a nontraditional job such as web developer.

The high salary range average is around $65,000 per year, but experience and speciality expertise are usually required for salaries in the high range.

*Source: The Bowker Annual (1997), published by R. R. Bowker in New Providence, New Jersey.


Library Organizations and Scholarships

For three decades, the Kentucky Negro Education Association (KNEA) was the parent organization for Negro librarians. The group of librarians was referred to as the Librarians Conference. In the early 1960s KNEA merged with the Kentucky Education Association, and the Librarians Conference was included in the merger. Today all library organizations are open to all librarians.

Library organizations offer involvement and support to professionals and library students. Organizations are also a good source for scholarships, grants, and career opportunity information. Getting involved is a way of getting ahead in library professions.

What are the names of these library organizations and scholarships?

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For Additional Information

First African American Library

History of Kentucky African American Librarians

Library Administration & Management Association (LAMA) - LAMA Cultural Diversity Grant

University of Kentucky School of Library and Information Science

Univeristy of Kentucky Libraries

Kentucky Library Association

Special Library Association (SLA) - Kentucky Chapter

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

American Library Association (ALA)

Association of Research Libraries (ARL)



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This page was last updated 7 December 2004. To suggest additions or corrections to this page, send mail to rjones@uky.edu