CoSA Releases Milestone Cultural Competency Report

By Anne Ackerson posted 03-29-2022 12:40 PM


CoSA Releases Milestone Cultural Competency Report


Relevant, Respectful, and Responsive: Government Archives in the 21st Century – An Overview of Cultural Competency in State and Territorial Archives in 2022 is a new report from the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), released today. Based on a survey fielded to CoSA members in November 2021 through early January 2022, which yielded a 64% response rate, the report offers a wealth of information regarding the understanding and practice of cultural competency within state and territorial archives and with their users and stakeholder communities.

As archives improve access to born-digital and digitized government records, there is an unprecedented opportunity to address a variety of barriers to online and onsite access that many communities face. CoSA’s 2022 cultural competency survey was designed to help state and territorial archives better understand their abilities in all three areas of cultural competency: cognitive competency (or awareness of difference in culture/communities), affective competency (or the attitudes we hold about the diversity we know about), and behavioral competency (or the actions we take in appropriately accommodating the different needs of the various cultures/communities we serve).

As more records move online, the inequities surrounding public access increases, as does the need for archives to better understand the barriers community members face in accessing them. The BACKER project aims to mitigate some of these gaps by working directly with archives staff to assess capabilities, develop plans and policies, and advise on infrastructure and cultural competency strategies to help state and territory archives reach their designated communities. CoSA member archives will be assisted in this work by cultural competency consultant Helen Wong Smith and other members of the BACKER project team.

CoSA’s current State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) work is focusing on opportunities to integrate electronic records preservation and access approaches with the needs of increasingly diverse users, thus supporting a new framework of equity in public access. For this reason, a critical portion of CoSA’s newest Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) funded project, dubbed BACKER (Building Archival Capacity for Keeping Electronic Records), is gauging levels of cultural competency awareness and providing training and mentoring to help state government archives gain knowledge and tools for better serving diverse cultures and communities in their states and territories. “We’re thrilled that IMLS has given us this opportunity to diversify SERI’s impact in this critical way,” said CoSA Executive Director Barbara Teague. 

Download the Report 

For more information about the BACKER Project

SERI Strategic Plan 2021-2024