Librarians and Cultural Humility: Check Your Privileges and Recognize Your Biases

Twanna Hodge, Integrating Cultural Humility into Public Services Librarianship, INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION & LIBRARY REVIEW, 2019,

This article was written by the first-ever Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Utah library. In it, the author challenges public services librarians to explore and address their implicit biases, and to incorporate cultural humility in their librarianship practice.

Of course, this type of exercise in self-auditing and vulnerability can be difficult and uncomfortable for people who engage in it. As the author points out, some of our most pervasive biases develop on a subconscious level from the time we are very young, as we process messages and opinions about the world, other people, and other cultures that we get from our families, our friends, and others. These types of biases, which include “both favorable and unfavorable assessments” are, as the author notes, “pervasive.” However, this does not mean that they have to be permanent.

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Information Marginalization, Information Inequity, and Information Poverty

Amelia N. Gibson and John D. Martin III, Re-Situating Information Poverty: Information Marginalization and Parents of Individuals With Disabilities, JOURNAL OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 70(5):476–487, 2019, DOI: 10.1002/asi.24128

I didn’t realize how strong my own biases were in thinking about this topic. Perhaps some of this comes from, as the authors point out, the fact that, in the past, studies like this sought to explore “information poor” people. These types of studies focus on the behavior of marginalized people rather than the institutional standards and practices that not only cause information poverty among certain demographics, but also seem to accept and encourage it.

Reader, my eyes have been opened…

According to the authors, the preferred focus on these types of studies should be “information marginalization,” which they define as “systematic, interactive socio-technical processes that can push and hold certain groups of people at social ‘margins,’ where their needs are persistently ignored or overlooked.” People who are information marginalized suffer from systemic causes of information poverty, which primarily result from a lack of resources, both technical and educational, that many people take for granted.

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Perceptions of Non-Native Speakers

Shedding New Light on the Evaluation of Accented Speakers: Basic Mechanisms Behind Nonnative Listeners’ Evaluations of Nonnative Accented Job Candidates, Janin Roessel, Christiane Schoel, Renate Zimmermann, and Dagmar Stahlberg, Journal of Language and Social Psychology 2019, Vol. 38(1) 3–32, DOI: 10.1177/0261927X17747904


This article immediately piqued my interest for several reasons: (a) I have given presentations and lectures as a non-native speaker of German a few times before; (b) I am always terrified of being judged as incompetent when I speak German in a situation like this, even though a lot of people tell me my German accent is relatively slight (especially for an American); and (c) I work with non-native English speakers all the time and I wanted to explore some of the literature on this topic to understand better how I can support them.

The results of this research are not good for the non-native speakers among us, especially those with strong foreign accents.

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