Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

cover of the YALSA competenciesThe introduction of the Cultural Competency and Responsiveness area of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff states:

“Library staff actively promote respect for and seek self-understanding of cultural diversity. They come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, and other groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into planning, implementing and evaluating culturally sustaining and bias-free programs, services, and workplaces. The development of complex, interconnected, and evolving cultural competencies on both personal and organizational levels requires dedication and cumulative and consistent work.”

Along with that introduction, the Developing Level of the content area includes the following two items for staff that are developing their Cultural Competency and Responsiveness skills:

  • Is aware of own cultural beliefs and practices
  • Recognizes barriers such as racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts them by way of culturally competent services

The January YALSA webinar titled, Acknowledging the Elephant in the Library: Making Implicit Biases Explicit helped library staff understand what is required to gain skills in this area and ideas on how to work with colleagues, administration, and community members in advocating and leading in this work. In this session Nicole Cooke clearly addressed topics such as stereotypes and micro-aggressions and provided concrete examples of what these terms mean and the impact they have on library staff and customers. In this 13 minute YALSA Snack Break, a clip from the webinar, you can hear some of what Nicole covered.


In the session Q&A many participants asked questions focusing on techniques for working with colleagues, administration, and community members on how to explicitly address implicit bias in all areas of library work. YALSA members can access the full webinar recording in the YALSA Member Center (login required). Non-members can purchase the recording by visiting the Webinars on Demand section of the YALSA website.

Learn more about the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff and about upcoming free webinars on all Competencies topics.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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