Exploring BAME Employees’ Lived Experiences in Academic and Research Libraries

2023 Spring Forum: Dr Mohammed Ishaq and Dr Asifa Maria Hussain


The plight of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff working in the academic and research library sector has been considerably under researched. In recognition of this, and an overall desire on the part of the Society for College and University Libraries (SCONUL) to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in academic and research libraries, this study explores the lived experiences of BAME library employees employed across UK universities. Using a primarily qualitative methodological approach, involving focus groups and in-depth interviews, the findings reveal that some BAME staff were having to negotiate a hostile working environment and had experienced verbal harassment as well as lack of opportunities in relation to progression and promotion. Organisational systems and processes were not designed to address the challenges experienced by BAME library staff suggesting that a positive climate for diversity did not currently exist in the academic and research library sector. 


Dr. Mohammed Ishaq is a Reader in Human Resource Management at the University of the West of Scotland and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Mohammed has engaged in multidisciplinary research over the past 20 years spanning the disciplines of sociology, politics, and the wider discipline of business and management incorporating HRM. Mohammed’s main interests are in the areas of  equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) particularly within a workplace context and with specific focus on the public sector. Mohammed is engaged in research of a practical and applied nature with implications for organisations, societies and communities. Mohammed has published widely in peer reviewed journals and conducted consultancy for the Scottish Government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and SCONUL and serves on a number of boards and committees with a remit for EDI. 

Dr. Asifa Maaria Hussain is an Associate Professor in Management at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Asifa has undertaken multidisciplinary research over the past 20 years spanning the disciplines of sociology, politics and HRM. Asifa’s expertise is in the field of EDI especially within an employment context and with particular focus on ethnic and religious diversity in the public sector. She has also held a number of other roles out with academic including as an academic advisor to the Ministry of Diversity and has published widely in a range of peer reviewed journals as well as undertaking consultancy for Glasgow City Council, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Asifa has worked for numerous universities across the UK including Durham University, the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian.