History of Diversity in SLA

DICE is the most recent outcome of members seeing value in identifying issues of diversity and inclusion that will realize the goals of an association that sees it as a welcoming and inclusive organization. This is a brief outline of an association that had its start at an ALA meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1909, and how that association and its members continued to evolve, grow and keep the issues of diversity present for the membership. Let’s move forward and make more history!

Much of this information comes from the Special Libraries collection of the association’s Journal maintained at http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/sla/ .

1909 – Special Libraries Association is formed.

1919 – SLA elects its first female president, Maude A. Carabin Mann

1920 – “Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library.” By Thomas F. Blue, Special Libraries Association, “Special Libraries, June 1920” (1920). Special Libraries, 1920. 6.

* Thomas F. Blue, the nation’s first African-American to head a public library. On September 23, 1905, Blue when was chosen to head the Louisville Western Branch Library, the first public library in the nation to serve African-American patrons with an exclusively African-American staff.

1932 – Montreal Chapter is added to SLA. The first chapter of SLA formed outside of the United States.

1940 – SLA’s Committee on Cooperation with Special Libraries in Latin America formed, becoming the International Relations Committee in 1943.

1947 – SLA joins International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)


  • the Positive Action Program for Minority Groups is established following discussion at the 1972 annual meeting and approved by the board after a report delivered at the 1973 SLA Midwinter Meeting in Tulsa. Committee definition approved Jan 30, 1973.
  • “Consider the Handicapped!” by Larry K. Volin. Special Libraries Association, “Special Libraries, September 1972” (1972). Special Libraries, 1972. 7.
  • Social Responsibility Committee, of the Minnesota Chapter, expresses their commitment to concentrate on Prison Reform. Special Libraries Association, “Special Libraries, September 1972” (1972). Special Libraries, 1972. 7.
  • European Chapter formed, moving SLA beyond a North American association.  This is noted in a brief historical review: Special Libraries Association, “Special Libraries, Winter 1990” (1990). Special Libraries, 1990. 1.

1973 – SLA suspends membership in the International Federation for Documentation (FID) until the South African National Representative to FID either “withdraws or no longer represents a government with a policy of apartheid.”

1978 – SLA publishes The Development of Special Libraries as an International Phenomenon (State-of-the-Art Review no. 4; by Johan van Halm). This 625 page book describes the state of special libraries in each of about 100 countries, including a description of whether “social responsibilities” (broadly defined) are significant in each country’s special libraries.

1979 – SLA membership approved by mail ballot the motion that the Association will hold no meetings or conferences in states that have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, or in states that have not passed their own statewide equal rights legislation.

1989 – the board changes the name of the Positive Action Program for Minority Groups to the Affirmative Action Committee.

1990 – The Women’s Issues Caucus is formed, to provide a forum to “discuss women’s issues, especially as they affect professional women.” (Special Libraries, Fall 1989).

1991 – The Diverse Issues Caucus is formed, to “address the issues and concerns affecting the diverse populations involved in the information profession, regardless of sex, race, religious, or other orientations.” (from Who’s Who in Special Libraries, 1996/97)

1995 –

  • The SLA Affirmative Action Committee developed the Diversity Leadership Development Program.
  • The Gay and Lesbian Issues Caucus is formed; David Jank and Richard Hulser are the Caucus’ first co-conveners.

2005 – Inclusion Caucus, formed during the 2005 SLA Annual Conference in Toronto, is a new partner collaborating with SLA units to provide a clearinghouse for the activities and practices that best promote inclusion.

2006 – At the August SLA Board meeting, the Board of Directors approved the name change from the Gay and Lesbian Issues Caucus to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Issues Caucus (GLBTIC).

2016 – Diversity Leadership Development Program Committee dissolved effective January 1, 2016.

2017 – the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is created to explore the role of diversity and inclusion within SLA and the services and needs of our members.

2018 – Diversity, Inclusion, Community, and Equity (DICE) Caucus as a result of a recommendation made by the association’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.Open to all SLA members at no cost, DICE creates a way for SLA members to get involved in issues related to diversity within SLA’s offerings.

SLA President Roberto Sarmiento

Statement of Purpose

SLA’s Diversity, Inclusion, Community, Equity (DICE) Caucus is a permanent, organized presence of diversity and inclusion (D&I) within and for the association and its members. All SLA members may join DICE at no charge. DICE provides tools and more for units and members. 



Events, Webinars, Links, RSS

Events, webinars, etc. – conferences, lectures, webinars on Diversity Inclusion Equity and Community in LIS:
  • STAND Symposium– The first forum in this four-part series will begin with a dialogue that assesses the significance of documenting student activists within contemporary movements of social injustice impacting marginalized communities and with those directly engaging in this work—student activists. February 21, 2019 at AUC Woodruff Library, Exhibition Hall, Atlanta, Georgia.  Free & Open to the public.
  • Archives and Diversity at the Manchester Meeting Place in Manchester, UK on April 5, 2019.  The focus of the afternoon will be on diversity in the Archives workforce and methods of improving inclusivity.  Free & Open to the public.
  • ACRL 2019 – Recasting the Narrative. April 10 – 13, 2019, at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.  Please see this great Google Doc on the sessions put together by Eamon Tewell – Critical ACRL 2019
  • From Community to Curriculum: Translating Social Responsibility into Archival Education  – April 12-13, 2019- This symposium seeks to begin a discussion about creating an archival curriculum that addresses contemporary societal needs while at the same time honoring traditional archival theory and that explores theoretical frameworks, methodologies and best practices for teaching archives in a socially conscious environment.  Simmons University – School of Management, Boston, MA.  Free & Open to the public.
  • Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Libraries Empowering Communities – Annual Joint-Mini Conference – May 10, 2019 –Presentations will focus on how to better support our multicultural communities through empowering multicultural collections.  Langston Hughes Library, Queens, N.Y.
  • CAPAL19: The Politics of Conversation: Identity, Community, and Communication – CAPAL/ACBAP Annual Meeting – June 2 -4, 2019 The Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians – Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2019.   To be held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam) people.
  • SLA Annual Conference will have several DICE events.  The conference June 14-18, 2019 in Cleveland OH.
  • IDEAL ’19 to be held Tuesday–Wednesday, August 6–7, 2019 formerly the National Diversity in Libraries Conference.  Advancing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility in Libraries & Archives.  To be held in the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.