Ensuring Inclusiveness
How can cultural competence inform your project?

Steps to Success: Before the Event


Designate a Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator

The Community Coordinator will designate a member of the Project Team to serve as the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator. The Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator is responsible for the planning and execution of the Cultural Competence Workshop. They will guide conversations around bias, inclusion, and belonging.

Some Project Teams may choose to have this role filled by an outside consultant, which may have fees associated with it. Some Project Teams may already have members with the skills and expertise necessary to fulfill this role, such as a social worker.


Have each team member conduct self-assessments for their unconscious bias and cultural competence.

Libraries strive to be places that are welcoming to all, yet everyone has unconscious biases, or attitudes shaped by their culture. By knowing your own biases, you can be mindful of them and make conscious efforts to be more inclusive and improve decision making.

Invite all team members to watch the Implicit Bias TED Talk and take an Implicit Association Test (IAT).

Dushaw Hockett is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs). His TED Talk explores the ways that implicit biases affect our thinking and behaviors as well as explaining the need for and use of implicit association tests.

Implicit Association Tests measure attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report by examining the strength of associations between concepts and evaluations or stereotypes.  

Project Implicit, an organization and collaborative network of researchers investigating implicit social cognition, developed these tests to help identify attitudes, stereotypes and other hidden biases that influence perception, judgment, and action. 

About two weeks before your Cultural Competence Workshop, the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator will invite team members to independently watch the TED Talk and take one or more IATs. There are several IATs to choose from and include tests for gender, race, religion, age, and sexuality biases. Depending on your community, cultures, and the goal of your event, you may ask team members to complete a specific test or several IATs. 

Team members do not need to share their exact results, but they should be prepared to have a discussion about a raised awareness of their biases.

Invite all team members to take the Professional Practice Self-Assessment for Personnel. 

The event planning phase is a great time to think about the cultural norms of your library when working with your existing patrons. 

About two weeks before your workshop, the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator will invite all team members to take the Professional Practice Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel to help them think about how often they exhibit culturally competent behaviors at work. This checklist is intended to heighten a team member’s awareness and sensitivity to the importance of cultural diversity and cultural competence when working with others. 

This resource was adapted from the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University.


Hold a Cultural Competence Workshop with your team.

The intention of this workshop is to learn together about bias and cultural competence and to establish organizational goals for ongoing improvement to strengthen the event, the team, and the collection. It’s important to be gentle, respectful, and patient with one another to allow for raising self-awareness without being judgmental. Some people may be surprised or upset by their self-assessment results.   

Review and share the self-assessments.

First, in small pairings and later as a whole group, the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator will have the team discuss the self-assessments conducted individually prior to the workshop. Some people may be reluctant to share, and that’s okay. 

Team members should try to answer the following open-ended questions and be prepared to discuss: 

  • What did you learn?
  • What did you agree with? Disagree with?
  • What could change or improve? 
  • Were there any surprises?

Share about your organization.

Your Project Team will be made up of people representing different organizations, each with varying levels of cultural competence. It’s important to understand where each organization is in its process so that team members can move forward together. 

As a whole group, use this Organizational Assessment based on the National Center for Cultural Competence framework to reflect on your organization’s mission and the community members it serves. 

As a team, build a plan to ensure inclusiveness and create a sense of belonging at your event.

Take what you learned about cultural competence and, as a team, create three inclusive, SMART goals: one for your team, one for your event, and one for your collection. The Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator will help guide the team through the goal creation process. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Each of your goals should be a concrete activity that your team can put into action. 

Think about your community in all its richness. Even communities that are seemingly homogenous on the surface have a wide array of perspectives: age, socioeconomic factors, gender, length of time in the community, etc. Your goals should enable you to reach as many people as possible. 

For example, UMass Boston co-hosted an event, “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” Mass. Memories Road Show: The Hip-Hop Edition at the Boston Public Library. In the early stages of the planning process, the group came up with the following goals:

Team Goal
  • The team will include at least 5 members representing all four artistic elements of hip-hop (rap, dance, graffiti, and DJ) as well as a range of different age groups represented in Boston’s hip-hop community.
Event / Community Engagement Goal
  • The event will be attended by at least 30 participants of all four hip-hop elements, different genders, and will include artists young and old active in hip-hop from the 1980s through the present day.
Collection Goal
  • The event will add at least 50 items to the digital collection that reflect different elements of hip-hop from a variety of personal perspectives at different points in time.


Commit to practicing cultural competence throughout the participatory archiving process.

Cultural competence is not a “one and done” activity, but rather it is a never ending process to enhance community engagement. Developing your team’s cultural competence will continue long after the Cultural Competence Workshop and needs to be incorporated throughout the whole participatory archiving planning process.

Share activities with the Project Team to enhance cultural understanding.

Choose additional activities (films, webinars, guest speakers, field trips, etc.) that will enhance the Project Team’s collective and shared understanding of the community you are working with. 

Apply cultural competence to other RoPA modules.

Commit to evaluating each of the three process areas, Community, Event, Collection, with an inclusion lens. The Community, Event, and Collection Coordinators along with their working groups will need to apply cultural competence to other RoPA modules. Below are some module specific questions to consider: 

Defining Community

Who will be included and welcome at this event? Who are the stakeholders for participating, for creating and for using the eventual collection? Did a community group come to you or are you trying to reach out to a group? What is your plan to create a sense of belonging? Belonging is the feeling of being part of something and mattering to others. We create it through inclusion, which consists of intentional acts.

Are members from your target community present and participating in your meeting? If not, that’s a great place to start! 

Collecting Stories

What stories are important to community members to collect? Which topics/subjects does the team expect community members to be eager to share, and which might they be more reluctant to contribute? 

The name of your event will convey who is welcomed to participate and is tied to your community engagement and collection goals. Does the name of your event encourage all parts of your community to attend? Does the name unwittingly exclude anyone?

Engaging Participants

How will the team let community members know about the opportunity to attend and contribute to the collection?  What is known about how community members usually communicate with one another? Is there a need for language translation? What types of communication (emails, newsletters, social media, etc.) will work best for your defined community?

Coordinating Logistics

Are there set dates and times that accommodates cultural needs and preferences (i.e. not on religious holidays)? Can you choose a location that is welcoming and accessible (i.e. ADA compliant, reachable by public transit, familiar, comfortable to group[s])? Does the name of your event convey everyone is welcome?  Will you have signage in multiple languages? If food is to be served, can you choose dishes that are familiar to a variety of cultural groups and sensitive to dietary restrictions? Are there representatives from a variety of cultural groups among the day’s volunteers? This Culture in Transit blog post shares lessons learned from an event with low attendance due to the event's start time.

Describing Items

Are there questions that are important to ask, or questions or topics that should be avoided? As you make decisions about voice, how can you remain mindful of pronoun usage? Do forms need to be translated into another language(s)?

Putting the Collection Online

Consider how to make sure that the online collection will be accessible to all users. Will descriptions be translated, posted in their original language, or both? Will videos have subtitles or transcriptions? Does your Putting Materials Online team have familiarity with general web accessibility best practices? You can find guidelines and tips in these Web Accessibility and Usability Resources.

Sharing the Collection

To guarantee inclusiveness, be sure that community members are involved in making decisions about exhibits, programs, social media postings, and presentations of the collection. Consider the needs and priorities of cultural groups in making decisions about how to share the collection inside the community and beyond. Choose digital platforms or physical spaces where your community will interact with the collection. Think about the most appropriate language(s) to reach the target audience(s). Make that community stakeholders and collection contributors have opportunities to review any materials with attention to word choice and terms that would be considered offensive. You can use these tips to learn more about language.