Recruitment Techniques for LIS Internship Applicants of Color: Case Study of a Paid Medical Data Internship Program


  • Justin de la Cruz Network of the National Library of Medicine
  • Genevieve Milliken NYU Langone Health
  • Nicole Contaxis NYU Langone Health
  • Miguel Juárez The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Peace Ossom Network of the National Library of Medicine



Diversity, Internships, Library and Information Science, LIS, Recruitment, Retention, Specialized Programs


Background: The recruitment of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) has been an ongoing effort for specialized libraries and library programs, especially as they try to fill technical roles while combatting internalized biases and candidates’ potential self-deselection by not applying or otherwise removing themselves from the recruitment process. Introduction: This case study examines the recruitment efforts of the National Center for Data Services (NCDS) for a paid internship program for BIPOC graduate students interested in data librarianship in health sciences settings. Methods: To enhance recruitment efforts and support applicants, NCDS met with consultants on equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. The recruitment process included reaching out directly to graduate programs, hiring an independent application coach who was available to consult with anyone interested in applying, holding informational sessions about the internship opportunity, and limiting the required components of the application, which included removing the need for letters of recommendation or support. Results: Although the target group was a very small pool of Library and Information Science (LIS) BIPOC students interested in medical and data librarianship, we received applications from all United States (U.S.) racial groups, except Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The recruitment efforts led to 38 applications for 8 positions in 2022 and 59 applications for 12 positions in 2023. Conclusions: The resultant number of applications showed an interest and need for specialty programs for BIPOC LIS students and highlighted how recruitment methods impact participation in specialized programs. Further research is necessary to assess the impact of various recruitment styles for this target group and the impact of these recruitment methods.


Download data is not yet available.


ACRL Task Force on Recruitment of Underrepresented Minorities. (1990). Recruiting the underrepresented to academic libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 51(11), 1016–1029.

Albanese, A. (2019, June 24). ALA 2019: ALA votes to strip Melvil Dewey’s name from its top honor. Publishers Weekly, 266(25).

American Library Association. (2023a). About ALA.

American Library Association (2023b). Directory of ALA-accredited and candidate programs in Library and Information Studies.

Association of Research Libraries. (n.d). Kaleidoscope program.

Baruzzi, A., Harris, P., & Vargas, R. (2020). Interns, inclusion, and iteration: Undergraduates influencing the library profession. In C. Bombaro (Ed.), Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion in Action: Planning, Leadership, And Programming, pp. 135-150. American Library Association.

Brady, H., & Abbott, F. (2015). A history of US public libraries: Segregated libraries. Digital Public Library of America.

Busch, T., Del Rio, L., Kamper, E., McDavid, S., Swarn, L., & Williams, S. (2022). SIUE’s diverse librarianship career training and education program a lack of diversity: A call to action. ILA Reporter, XL(3), 16–19.

Chang, H-F. (2013). Ethnic and racial diversity in academic and research libraries: Past, present, and future [Conference presentation]. ACRL 16th National Conference.

Damasco, I. T., & Hodges, D. (2012). Tenure and promotion experiences of academic librarians of color. College & Research Libraries, 73(3), 279–301.

Farkas, M. (2019, May 1). Barriers to diversity: The problems of LIS internship and practice. American Libraries, 50(5), 48–48.

Federer, L. (2018). Defining data librarianship: A survey of competencies, skills, and training. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 106(3), 294–303.

Fernández, N., & Filar Williams, B. (2020, June 24). Creating a library wide culture and environment to support MLIS students of color: The diversity scholars program at Oregon State University Libraries. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Hampton University. (2023). Leading the charge: Advancing the recruitment, retention and inclusion of people of color within the library and information science field.

Hathcock, A. (2015, October 7). White librarianship in Blackface: Diversity initiatives in LIS. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Hudson, D. (2017). On “diversity” as anti-racism in library and information studies: A critique. Journal of Critical Library and Information Science, 1(1).

Institute of Museum and Library Services. (2020). Hampton University.

Jones, P. A. (2004). Still struggling for equality: American public library services with minorities. Libraries Unlimited.

Jones, S., & Murphy, B. (2019). Diversity and inclusion in libraries: A call to action and strategies for success. Rowman & Littlefield.

Juarez, D., & Blackwood, E. (2022). Virtual undergraduate internships: One COVID-19 side effect that academic libraries should keep. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 22(1), 81–91.

Kendall, J. (2014, March 24). Melvil Dewey, compulsive innovator. American Libraries, 45(3/4), 52–54.

Kim, K-S., & Sin, S-C. J. (2008). Increasing ethnic diversity in LIS: Strategies suggested by librarians of color. The Library Quarterly, 78(2), 153–177.

Knott, C. (2015). Not free, Not for all: Public libraries in the age of Jim Crow. University of Massachusetts Press.

Kung, J. Y., Fraser, K-L., & Winn, D. (2020). Diversity initiatives to recruit and retain academic librarians: A systematic review. College & Research Libraries, 81(1), 96–108.

Laynor, G., & Tagge, N. (2022). Developing pathways to health sciences librarianship with an introductory course and mentoring program. The Reference Librarian, 63(3), 67–81.

Love, E. (2010). Generation next: Recruiting minority students to librarianship. Reference Services Review, 38(3), 482–492.

Medical Library Association. (n.d.). MLA/NLM Spectrum Scholarship.

National Center for Data Services. (2022). NCDS data internship.

Ndumu, A, & Betts-Green, C. (2018). First impressions: A review of diversity-related content on North American LIS program websites. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 2(3), 91–113.

Network of the National Library of Medicine [NNLM]. (2022, May 2). About data librarianship | National Center for Data Services [Video]. YouTube.

Ossom-Williamson, P., Williams, J., Goodman, X., Minter, C. I. J., & Logan, A. (2021). Starting with I: Combating anti-Blackness in libraries. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 40(2), 139–150.

Phillips, K. W., Liljenquist, K. A., & Neale, M. A. (2009). Is the pain worth the gain? The advantages and liabilities of agreeing with socially distinct newcomers. Personality and Social Psychology, Bulletin 35(3), 345.

Pionke, J. J. (2020). Medical Library Association diversity and inclusion task force 2019 survey report. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 108(3), 503-512.

Rollins, T., McGruffie, R., Nduma, A., Villicaña, M. O., & DuVernay, J. (n.d.). The Hampton University forum on minority recruitment and retention in the library and information science field: Overview, outcomes, and strategies for implementation.

Rosa, K., & Henke, K. (2017). 2017 ALA demographic study.

Rutledge, L., Colbert, J. L., Chiu, A., & Alston, J. (2019). Developing a residency program: A practical guide for librarians. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc.

Texas Library Association. (2023). TALL Texans.

Thielen, J., & Neeser, A. (2020). Making job postings more equitable: Evidence based recommendations from an analysis of data professionals job postings between 2013–2018. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 15(3), 103–156.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). Explanation of data standards for race, ethnicity, sex, primary languages, and disability.

Velez, L., Alston, J., Blas, N., Bradshaw, K., Duffus, O., Eads, D., Holmes, G., & Patterson, O. (2021). Mapping the residency program landscape. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(5), 102389.

Wang, K., Kratcha, K. B., Wei Yin, & Tewell, E. (2022). Redesigning an academic library internship program with equity in mind. College & Research Libraries News, 83(9), 385–388. /10.5860/crln.83.9.385

Wildenhaus, K. (2018). Wages for intern work: Denormalizing unpaid positions in archives and libraries. Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, 2(1).

ZipRecruiter. (2023a). Academic librarian salary in US.

ZipRecruiter. (2023b). Data librarian salary in US.


Additional Files



How to Cite

de la Cruz, J., Milliken, G., Contaxis, N., Juárez, M., & Ossom, P. (2024). Recruitment Techniques for LIS Internship Applicants of Color: Case Study of a Paid Medical Data Internship Program. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (105).
Share |