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Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries: Cross-cultural knowledge and skills

Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries

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 constituent groups served.

Cultural competence is not static, and requires frequent relearning and unlearning about diversity. Librarians and library staff need to take every opportunity to expand their cultural knowledge and expertise by expanding their understanding of the following areas: the impact of culture on behavior, attitudes, and values; the help-seeking behaviors of diverse colleagues, co-workers, and constituent groups; the role of language, speech patterns, and communication styles of colleagues, co-workers, and various constituent groups in the communities served; the resources (agencies, people, informal helping networks, and research) that can be used on behalf of diverse colleagues, co-workers, and constituent groups. It is important to not presume a particular group has the same set of values or beliefs as one’s own.

Culturally competent librarians and library staff shall:

  • Work with a wide range of people who are culturally different and similar to themselves and establish avenues for learning about the cultures of these colleagues, co-workers, and constituents.
  • Assess the meaning of culture for individual colleagues, co-workers, and constituents; encourage open discussion of differences; and respond to culturally biased cues.
  • Integrate the information gained from a culturally competent assessment into appropriate and effective services.
  • Select and develop appropriate methods, skills, and approaches that are attuned to colleagues’, co-workers’, and constituents’ cultural, bicultural, or marginal experiences in their environments.
  • Demonstrate advocacy and empowerment skills in work with constituents, librarians, and library staff and administrators, recognizing and combating the “-isms”, stereotypes, and myths held by individuals and organizations.
  • Identify service delivery systems or models that are appropriate to the targeted constituent groups.
  • Consult with supervisors and colleagues for feedback and monitoring of performance and to identify features of their own professional style that impede or enhance their culturally competent practice.
  • Evaluate the validity and applicability of new techniques, research, and knowledge for work with diverse colleagues, co-workers, and constituent groups.