A decade ago now, one of my libraries opened a teen area. The manager of the branch (Greg Mickells, now the director of the Madison WI Public Library), had an idea. Why not hire teens as staff - not just as shelvers, but to staff the service desk, answer questions, assist in collection purchasing, and generally have parity with the adults? I admit I was a little dubious. But I went along.
It was a staggering success - and not just because we hired some very bright young people who took their positions seriously and did a fine job.
More to the point: some 10 years later, they all came back. As librarians.
I've been thinking lately about our failure as a profession to reflect the growing diversity of our society. The problem, I think, is that we pounce on candidates who have already run the MLIS (Master's of Library and Information Science) gauntlet. It's too late. If we really want to pull more diverse candidates into the pool, we have to get them while they're still in high school. We have to treat them well, show them the excitement of the profession.
Sure, some of them will move onto other things. But some of them - many of them, I bet - will fall in love with librarianship. And then we've got 'em.
So that's my proposal (although it was not my idea - it was Greg's): create a new position, and aggressively recruit diverse candidates from high schools.