The Importance of Women at DPLA and in Our Community

Posted by Dan Cohen in March 8, 2017.

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There shouldn’t have to be special days to reflect upon the importance of women in our society, but today’s “A Day Without a Woman” presents a good opportunity to highlight just how critical women have been and are to our organization, our community, and the broader public we serve together.

Women have played as essential role at DPLA from the start. From the very first DPLA planning meetings to the latest DPLAfest, our community has been driven by the energy, ideas, and hard work of women. Women comprise over half of the staff at our organization, and are involved with all facets of our endeavor, including software development and data management, education and outreach, and the creation of our national network of hubs. Half of the senior staff and over half of our board are women.

More broadly, we connect with thousands of libraries, archives, and museums nationwide, and those organizations involve the work of tens of thousands of women. When I speak with people outside of DPLA’s immediate community, I’m surprised by how many people do not know how predominantly female librarianship is. In the first census of librarians taken in the United States, in 1880, 52% of librarians were men. By 2011, 83% of librarians were women.

With libraries at the heart of so many communities across the country—there are nearly 17,000 public library branches in the U.S. and thousands more in schools and colleges—we should all recognize and be incredibly thankful for the crucial role women play in these central social institutions. Literacy, knowledge, and lifelong enrichment would all be impossible without them.