Competency C

Recognize the diversity (such as cultural and economic) in the clientele and employees of an information organization and be familiar with actions the organization should take to address this diversity;

Introduction

Because the public library aims to serve, in the widest sense, an entire community, there is no library in which an understanding of diversity as a concept is more important. Diversity in both patrons and employees should not only be recognized but validated and responded to to the best of a library’s ability. Diversity in itself is diverse. There is not just one descriptor which diversity covers, making it a complex topic to tackle anywhere, including libraries where issues like intellectual freedom and equitability are the focus of service.

Josey and Abdullahi (2002) only just begin to list facets of diversity: race, ethnicity, ability, culture, and sexual orientation. But diversity extends beyond these terms. Regional origin, language abilities, economic status, literacy, and more trivial markers like taste in music, hair color, and even a preference for cats over dogs are all traits that can make a population diverse. Whatever traits that are making up a diverse community, public libraries have a duty to serve each of their patrons to the fullest possible extent.

In order to successfully achieve this level of service, public libraries must work consciously toward a goal of this service. Hands (2015) describes this as “intentional diversity.” While a significant amount of work has been done in both the library field and the larger bookish world to increase diversity and awareness of the lack of diversity in these areas, more work has got to be done. Hands (2015) recommends several programs that can serve and promote diversity such as author panels, book discussions, and celebrating a specific cultural holiday, among others. Hands also admits that many of the programs she imagined focuses on racial and ethnic diversity, but points out many of her concepts can be adapted to promote awareness of other diverse features.

Beyond programs, libraries can demonstrate a commitment to a diverse population through other methods. Collection development is crucial to this endeavor. Not only must the content of a collection reflect the lives and interests of the community, but so must the language in which the content is provided. If, then, a community has a Korean-speaking population, for example, then the public library must ensure that their collection features works in Korean. It may not be feasible to represent every single language spoken in a community. For instance, if a community of several thousand people happens to have one individual who speaks Lithuanian, it may not be practical to stock the library with books in Lithuanian. The library should, however, make an effort to provide avenues to Lithuanian works, such as through interlibrary loan or digital subscriptions.

In addition to access to diverse content through the collection, public libraries should also maintain a diverse staff. This not only is simply good human resources practice, but is also important to once again displaying a commitment to excellent service for a diverse community. Daniel (2013) notes that, in many cases, library patrons are more likely to approach a library staff member who shares visibly similar features. A black patron, for example, will be more likely to select a black librarian over a white librarian when seeking help. For communities in which racial diversity is great, so must the staff’s racial diversity be. This is important not only on the basis of physical appearance, but also in language, both spoken and signed.

From a practical perspective, providing staff members who can successfully communicate with patrons leads to productive staff-patron interactions. When there is an inability to communicate, services cannot be provided to begin with, let alone provided well. Some libraries may opt to outsource communication with the help of translation services via telephone, though not all libraries can afford this option. If the ability to hire staff who are bi- or multilingual is present, it should be the preferred option as money spent on translation services may be better spent elsewhere.

Evidence

INFO 232 Human Resources Assessment

The Human Resources Assessment evaluates the [Redacted] Public Library’s staff and human resources policies against best practices according to industry and human resource experts. In many aspects, the assessment focuses on the needs of [Redacted] as a diverse community, particularly as the library serves not only [Redacted] County, but also surrounding areas such as [Redacted] and [major city] In pointing out weaknesses in the [Redacted] Public Library’s staffing, the assessment offers solutions to these weaknesses which have the potential to improve service to [Redacted] Public Library patrons. Because so much of the lacking service comes down to a lack of staff diversity, this is a large focus of the paper. Consequently, this work demonstrates a complete and practical understanding of Competency C.

 

 

INFO 232 Library Assessment and Visit

With a close look at the [Redacted] Branch of the [Redacted] Public Library system, this assignment discusses the various aspects and features of the branch in relation to their service of the branch’s patrons. Because this branch is located in a diverse section of [Redacted], from patrons who have routes in Eastern European countries, to patrons from Middle Eastern countries, to natural American citizens hailing from all over the country, this was a prime example of a library’s successes and failures in the service of a diverse community. While language barriers tended to be a main concern at the [Redacted] Branch, other considerations include physical ability, age, and occupation. Due to the extended detail provided regarding diversity in the community surrounding the [Redacted] Branch and how the Branch handles this challenge, this assignment demonstrates proficiency of Competency C.

 

Conclusion

Diversity may bring to mind concepts like race and ethnicity, but the fact is diversity is diverse. It goes well beyond skin color and even culture to include things like physical ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and more trivial identifiers like preferred flavors of ice cream. Although serving each community within a larger community in full is, for practical reasons, impossible, striving for this complete service can only improve the library’s standing and impact among its patrons. Libraries should consider diversity from all angles, whether the patrons, the collection, or the staff is the focus. As America continues to diversify, so must its libraries.

References

Daniel, D. (2013). Gender, race, and age of librarians and users have an impact on the perceived approachability of librarians. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8(3), 73-75.

Hands, A. (2015). Intentional diversity: Program ideas from the field. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 13(3), 19-22.

Josey, E. J. & Abdullahi, I. (2002). Why diversity in American libraries. Library Management, 23(1/2), 10-16. Retrieved from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text.