Tag Archives: cultural competency

connecting diversity work and library work

Culturally competent library services and related factors among health sciences librarians: an exploratory study

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2017.203 


Objective: This study investigated the current state of health sciences libraries’ provision of culturally competent services to support health professions education and patient care and examined factors associated with cultural competency in relation to library services and professional development.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. Data were collected with a survey questionnaire that was distributed via SurveyMonkey to several health sciences librarian email discussion lists.

Results: Out of 176 respondents, 163 reported serving clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Various services were provided to develop or support initiatives in cultural competency in health professions education and patient care. A considerable number of respondents were unsure or reported no library services to support initiatives in cultural competency, although a majority of respondents perceived the importance of providing culturally competent library services (156, 89.1%) and cultural competency for health sciences librarians (162, 93.1%). Those who self-identified as nonwhites perceived culturally competent services to be more important than whites (p=0.04). Those who spoke another language in addition to English had higher self-rated cultural competency (p=0.01) than those who only spoke English.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to our knowledge of the types of library services provided to support cultural competency initiatives and of health sciences librarians’ perceived importance in providing culturally competent library services and cultural competency for health sciences librarians. The results suggest implications for health sciences libraries in fostering professional development in cultural competency and in providing culturally competent services to increase library use by people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds.


Cultural Competency; Health Sciences Librarians; Health Professions Education; Libraries; Library Services; Patient Care; Professional Development

Selected readings

Berry, J. D. (2004). White Privilege in Library Land. [Article]. Library Journal, 129(11), 50-50.

Bonnet, J. L., & McAlexander, B. (2012). Structural Diversity in Academic Libraries: A Study of Librarian Approachability. [Article]. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 38(5), 277-286. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2012.06.002

Ettarh, F. (2014). Making a new table: intersectional librarianship. Retrieved from In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Montague, R.-A. (2013). Advancing cultural competency in library and information science. Paper presented at IFLA WLIC: Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities, Singapore, 2013.