For immediate release | April 27, 2023

Cultural humility in library work

CHICAGO — Cultural humility offers a renewing and transformative framework for navigating interpersonal interactions in libraries, whether between patrons and staff or staff members with one another. It foregrounds a practice of critical self-reflection and commitment to recognizing and redressing structural inequities and problematic power imbalances. Edited by Sarah R. Kostelecky, Lori Townsend, and David A. Hurley, “Hopeful Visions, Practical Actions: Cultural Humility in Library Work,” published by ALA Neal-Schuman, is the first book-length treatment of this approach in libraries. This collection gathers contributors from across the field to demonstrate how cultural humility can change the way we work and make lasting impacts on diversity, equity, and inclusion in libraries. Its chapters explore such topics as:

  • how Indigenous adages can be tools for reflection and guidance in developing cultural humility;
  • the experiences of two Black librarians who are using cultural humility to change the profession;
  • new perspectives on core concepts of customer service;
  • rethinking policies and practices in libraries both large and small;
  • using cultural humility in approaching collection development and creating resource guides;
  • what cultural humility can look like for a tribal librarian working in a tribal college library; and
  • reflecting on cultural humility itself and where it is going.

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. Kostelecky and Hurley, 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. 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. 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.

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"Hopeful Visions, Practical Actions: Cultural Humility in Library Work"

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