For immediate release | August 17, 2022

ALA Editions Special Report explores cultural humility as a component of DEI efforts

CHICAGO — Cultural humility is emerging as a preferred approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within librarianship. At a time when library workers are critically examining their professional practices, cultural humility offers a potentially transformative framework of compassionate accountability; it asks us to recognize the limits to our knowledge, reckon with our ongoing fallibility, educate ourselves about the power imbalances in our organizations, and commit to making change. A new ALA Editions Special Report, “Cultural Humility” by David A. Hurley, Sarah R. Kostelecky, and Lori Townsend introduces the concept and outlines its core tenets. As relevant to those currently studying librarianship as it is to long-time professionals, and applicable across multiple settings including archives and museums, from this book readers will:

  • learn why cultural humility offers an ideal approach for navigating the spontaneous interpersonal interactions in libraries, whether between patrons and staff or amongst staff members themselves;
  • understand how it intersects with cultural competence models and critical race theory;
  • see the ways in which cultural humility’s awareness of and commitment to challenging inequitable structures of power can act as a powerful catalyst for community engagement;
  • come to recognize how a culturally humble approach supports DEI work by acknowledging the need for mindfulness in day-to-day interactions;
  • reflect upon cultural humility’s limitations and the criticisms that some have leveled against it; and
  • take away concrete tools for undertaking and continuing such work with patience and hope.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

The authors are also collaborators on the forthcoming book “Hopeful Visions, Practical Actions: Cultural Humility in Library Work,” which is due to be published by ALA Editions in late 2022.

Hurley and Kostelecky, with Paulita Aguilar, co-edited “Sharing Knowledge and Smashing Stereotypes: Representing Native American, First Nation, and Indigenous Realities in Library Collections,” a special double issue of the journal Collection Management. Hurley is the Web and Discovery Librarian for the University Libraries. He was previously the director of the Diné College libraries on the Navajo Nation, chief of the library development bureau at the New Mexico State Library, and branch and digital services manager for the public library of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Kostelecky is the Director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication (DISC) for University of New Mexico Libraries. Her research focuses on outreach efforts to underrepresented communities, diversity in academic libraries and library collections, and Native American language resources. Prior to working at UNM Libraries, Sarah was the Library Director at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe. She is a member of Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. Townsend is the Learning Services Coordinator and Engineering Librarian for the University of New Mexico Libraries. Before coming to UNM, she worked as the Electronic Collections Librarian at California State University, East Bay from 2005-2010. She is co-author, along with Amy R. Hofer and Silvia Lin Hanick, of the book “Transforming Information Literacy Instruction: Threshold Concepts in Theory and Practice.” She is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley.

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Related Links

"Cultural Humility"

"Narratives of (Dis)Enfranchisement: Reckoning with the History of Libraries and the Black and African American Experience"

"52 Diverse Titles Every Book Lover Should Read: A One Year Journal and Recommended Reading List from the American Library Association"

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