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Linking Our Libraries

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Mar 18, 2021

We are talking to you from Minnesota, and our state has recently set up requirements for teachers in their licensure requirements to take seminars in cultural competencies. Today we are going to briefly look at the topics covered in this training, and see how it can apply in library work.

It is the job of libraries to serve the information needs of their community members - all of their community members. And most of us are pretty nice people, who try to make that happen. But most of us are also middle aged white women. These are not bad qualities, it is just limiting in perspective. Nobody can know all things, or have all experiences. So working in libraries means it is important to reach out to different sources of information, so we are ready to provide the best, most diverse sources of ideas to share with our community.

There are all kinds of cultural competencies we could be discussing. But for the purposes of today’s discussion we will look at the topics identified by Minnesota for teachers to work with.

What are cultural competencies?

In the state statutes, “"Cultural competency training" means a training program that promotes self-reflection and discussion including but not limited to all of the following topics: racial, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; American Indian and Alaskan native students; religion; systemic racism; gender identity, including transgender students; sexual orientation; language diversity; and individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns.”  

The state has standards for the results they want to see from the training, and what people can expect to take into their work. “Training programs must be designed to deepen teachers' understanding of their own frames of reference, the potential bias in these frames, and their impact on expectations for and relationships with students, students' families, and the school communities…”

We are working from the perspective of libraries and library staff, so we are interested not only in the work of building our own skills, but also in providing information to members of our community. So today we are going to browse through these competencies and some ideas and resources. These will be useful to all of us, as well as useful to pass on to your community members.