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Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries: Workforce diversity

Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries

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

Diversity in the workplace benefits the library’s constituents and the community, the library organization, and the community. In a diverse library workforce, library users can find someone to relate to, and get services that are sensitive to their needs and preferences. Diversity also improves staff performance and overall library success.

Diversity also benefits library and information schools, improving the quality of learning as students explore different perspectives and reduce prejudice, and fostering deeper thinking (Kim and Sin 2008).

Diversity is one of ALA’s five key action areas to ensure high-quality library services to all constituents. Within that mission is the need to recruit underrepresented groups and individuals with disabilities to the profession.

It is this diversity that contributes a deeper level of understanding and competence to our daily work. The American Library Association envisions a richly, diverse workforce providing a high level of service to the membership in an environment where respect, appreciation, equity and inclusion are core values (ALA 2003, 1).

The culturally competent organization shall:

  • Develop an action plan to actively recruit and retain staff and librarians. Librarians should go beyond the traditional avenues to advertise positions to create and develop formal and informal ways to reach individuals that represent the constituents served. 
  • Obtain statistics about underrepresented personnel (students, staff, librarians) in the organization review information, and work to understand the lacking numbers and personnel in the organization.
  • Develop and implement human resource and other organizational policies, procedures, and practices that support staff diversity.
  • Develop and implement organizational policies, procedures, and practices that effectively address the dynamics of a diverse workforce
  • Review recruitment, hiring, and promotion policies, procedures, and practices to remedy inadvertent exclusion of or discrimination toward underrepresented, underserved, and historically oppressed groups.
  • Implement safeguards against exclusion of or discrimination toward underrepresented, underserved, and historically oppressed groups in the workplace, and take corrective action when inequities are discovered.

Standard 7 Readings