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Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries

Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries

Diversity is an essential component of any civil society. It is more than a moral imperative; it is a global necessity. Everyone can benefit from diversity, and diverse populations need to be supported so they can reach their full potential for themselves and their communities. 

To achieve diversity in substance as well as in form, libraries have to open their arms to all perspectives and experiences. That requires competency in matters of cultural pluralism that are not intuitive and must be learned, like any other essential skill (Smith 2008, 143). 

To this end, these standards provide a framework to support libraries in engaging the complexities of providing services to diverse populations, and recruiting and maintaining a diverse library workforce. The standards may also serve as a starting point from which libraries can develop local approaches and goals in the context of their organizations’ mission and situation (ACRL 2012).

The Diversity Standards is a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). The readings associated with each standard was curated by Meghan Dowell after completing Library Juice Academy's Cultural Competence for Academic Librarians and participation in a critical pedagogies workshop series. 

the Standards link to a full description and corresponding readings

Standard 1. Cultural awareness of self and others

Librarians and library staff shall develop an understanding of their own personal and cultural values and beliefs as a first step in appreciating the importance of multicultural identities in the lives of the people they work with and serve.

Standard 2. Cross-cultural knowledge and skills

Librarians and library staff shall have and continue to develop specialized knowledge and understanding about the history, traditions, values, and artistic expressions of colleagues, co-workers, and major constituencies served.

Standard 3. Organizational and professional values

Librarians and library staff shall develop and support organizational and professional values dedicated to culturally competent service.

Standard 4. Development of collections, programs, and services

Librarians and library staff shall develop collections and provide programs and services that are inclusive of the needs of all persons in the community the library serves.

Standard 5. Service delivery

Librarians and library staff shall be knowledgeable about and skillful in the use and provision of information services available in the community and broader society, and shall be able to make appropriate referrals for their diverse constituencies.

Standard 6. Language diversity

Librarians and library staff shall support the preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity, and work to foster a climate of inclusion aimed at eliminating discrimination and oppression based on linguistic or other diversities.

Standard 7. Workforce diversity

Librarians and library staff shall support and advocate for recruitment, admissions, hiring, and retention efforts in libraries, library associations, and LIS programs to increase diversity and ensure continued diversity in the profession.   

Standard 8. Organizational dynamics 

Librarians and library staff shall participate in and facilitate the development of organizational dynamics that enable individuals, groups, and organizations to continually develop and exercise cultural competence.

Standard 9. Cross-cultural leadership

Library leaders shall influence, support, and encourage the creation of proactive processes that increase diversity skills; empower colleagues, co-workers, and constituents from diverse backgrounds; share information about diverse populations; and advocate for their concerns. 

Standard 10. Professional education and continuous learning

Librarians and library staff shall advocate for and participate in educational and training programs that help advance cultural competence within the profession.

Standard 11. Research

Research shall be inclusive and respectful of non-Western thought and traditional knowledge reflecting the value of cultural ways of knowing.


Creative Commons License This guide is created by Meghan Dowell and licensed by Beloit College Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.