At the invitation of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CoSA Executive Director Joy Banks, SERI Coordinator Michelle Gallinger, and cultural competency consultant Helen Wong Smith joined 25 IMLS staff to share an update on cultural competency activities that are part of CoSA's IMLS-funded BACKER* project. Anthony Smith, Associate Deputy Director/Office of Library Services/Discretionary Programs, began the conversation by stating that cultural competency is "important work with far-reaching implications."
Helen Wong Smith provided an overview on the broad topic of cultural competency: definitions, challenges, and constructive approaches to incorporating cultural competency in the archives workplace. She underscored the concept that integrating cultural competency into archives work not only improves agency diversity and employee retention, it also improves access to records and services to the public. She also shared highlights from CoSA recent report, Relevant, Respectful and Responsive: Government Archives in the 21st Century
, which analyzes responses to a member survey conducted in early 2022.
As this part of the BACKER project moves forward, Gallinger noted that workshops led by Wong Smith in May and June are being followed with the formation of working groups for workshop participants to network, share information and resources, and group problem solve around applying cultural competency principles to four topic areas: staff/workforce, patrons, community outreach, and description. These will be facilitated by Wong Smith. Individualized mentoring opportunities will come later in the project.
The presentation concluded with questions and comments by IMLS staff.
*BACKER: Building Archival Capacity for Keeping Electronic Records