Journal Club: Culturally competent library services and related factors among health sciences librarians

Meeting date: November 28, 2018

Presenter: Mary Chipanshi

Citation: Mi, Misa & Zhang, Yingting. (2017). Culturally competent library services and related factors among health sciences librarians: An exploratory study. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 105(2), 132-139.

Article abstract:
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 Survey Monkey 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.

Reason for selection: As Canada becomes more and more diverse and as we see the landscape of our clients in health libraries change, how do we as librarians become culturally competent. 

Discussion summary & recommendations:
The paper had 3 focused questions and used a survey questionnaire using a convenient sample that could have introduced a bias. For demographic selection they got a sample from a variety of racial groups. It was surprising that although library schools are graduating a lot of students (younger and different races) the age range from the survey of respondents was average age of 50 and mostly white. It was noted that in their questionnaire they did not exhaust the list of races. They could have added other to capture races that did not fall in their list. In addition their questionnaire lacked open ended questions which may have answered for example why people felt cultural competence was important.

As mentioned in the article, there are some barriers faced by libraries to offering cultural competent library services. This topic can be pursued with appropriate stake holders. This can also include the topic of Indigenization.