Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals

Earlier this year, I read Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals, (© 2016, Libraries Unlimited, paperback, Information Services to Divers Populations book cover166 pages, ISBN-10: 1440834601, ISBN-13: 978-1440834608).

This is the latest work by Nicole A. Cooke.  Cook is an assistant professor at The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and program director for the MS in Library and Information Science.

Cooke says that she wrote the book that she wanted to use in her classroom for her course, Information Services for Diverse Populations (LIS 547). In it, she addresses perennially important and emerging topics in librarianship, such as diversity, cultural competence, and social responsibility. Cooke’s work also examines research in the areas of diversity and social justice in librarianship. She also explores how social responsibility is fundamental to  librarianship.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Diversity, Inclusion and Information Services
  2. Developing Cultural Competence
  3. A Sampling of Diverse Populations
  4. Services to Diverse Populations
  5. Managing Diversity
  6. Becoming New Storytellers: Counter Storytelling in LIS

The appendices include a sample syllabus and sample assignments. Each chapter also includes questions and for reflection or discussion.

Though the book is a textbook, it is a thorough resource that introduces readers to the contexts and situations that encourge the development of empathy and building cultural competence.

As the diversity of the clientele we serve in libraries, continues to increase, developing cultural competency skills and social awareness becomes all the more urgent. Cooke’s work can benefit veteran practitioners, employers and LIS students, and the library profession at large.



Creating Inclusive Library Environments: A Planning Guide for Serving Patrons with Disabilities

I recently read Creating Inclusive Library Environments: A Planning Guide for Serving Patrons with Disabilities by Michelle Kowalsky and John Woodruff. (ALA Editions, 232 pages, 6″ x 9″ Softcover, ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1485-4, © 2017)

In my current position as the ADA Specialist. Diversity, compliance with the ADA and creating an inclusive environment are a large part of my daily focus.   I found that this guide to be well written and organized.

The world of libraries is undergoing rapid and sometimes challenging change.  Libraries collections now contain much more than books and magazines; collections now include  an array of digital and electronic resources, maker spaces and  programming for even more diverse audiences than ever before.

That audience now includes many patrons with disabilities.  Staff development and training for new and veteran staff can help staff members to review their perceptions and beliefs about people with disabilities. Such training can also help libraries evaluate and develop services, programming and resources for their constituency.  It can also help libraries develop a culture that is comfortable and welcoming for individuals with disabilities.

Creating that culture involves  developing an understanding of the needs of and composition of the community or constituency served, Creating a welcoming and inclusive culture also takes planning, deliberate choice making and creative and effective implementation and evaluation.  In this guide, Kowalsky and Woodruff address policies, organizational culture, facilities, technologies, and much more. Filled with research-based best practices, this guide also contains useful checklists that are usable by any library.

I found the book very readable and interesting.  Although I’m not currently working in a library but another capacity in higher education, Kowalsky and Woodruff gave me ideas that I can apply in my daily work. They tackle all the topics and issues that I believe are essential for librarians and educators to think through carefully as they work to create and maintain a truly inclusive environment for all.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1    Introduction to Creating Inclusive Libraries
Chapter 2    Writing Policies and Procedures
Chapter 3    Setting Up Facilities
Chapter 4    Training Library Staff
Chapter 5    Maintaining Daily Operations
Chapter 6    Collaborations and Outreach
Chapter 7    Programming and Workshop Ideas
Chapter 8    Accessible Resources and Technologies
Chapter 9    Developing a User-Centered Culture
Chapter 10  Keeping Up to Date

About the Authors