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Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries: Cross-cultural leadership

Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries

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. 

Successful leaders will help to foster diversity skills among fellow leaders, library faculty and staff. Diversity skills are defined as sensitivity to diversity, multiethnic/multicultural leadership, acceptance and valuation, cultural competence, and ability to deal with ambiguity. Cross cultural leadership helps to fulfill the organizational mission (Northouse 2006, 3; Rank and Hutchison 2000).

Culturally competent leaders shall:

  • Foster sensitivity, openness, and a spirit of inquiry to other world views and cultural orientations.
  • Model culturally competent attitudes and behavior.
  • Support diversity skills training and diversity education—including the exploration of social justice, privilege and oppression, and fear and anger around cultural diversity issues—in a safe environment that allows for discussion and reflection (Van Soest and Garcia 2008).
  • Encourage and seek out leadership qualities within library faculty and staff from a variety of cultural backgrounds and support their development and retention in the profession.
  • Develop and support a multiethnic/multicultural workforce to meet the needs of the constituency.
  • Create opportunities for cross-cultural communities and skill development of staff. 
  • Support continuing education of staff to be culturally competent.

Culturally competent organizations shall:

  • Provide leadership opportunities to library faculty and staff from a variety of cultural backgrounds and support them in developing leadership skills.
  • Foster a workplace climate and organizational culture that is open to a variety of leadership styles.

Standard 9 Readings