It became clear in the development of the IMLS-funded Building Archival Capacity for Keeping Electronic Records (BACKER) project that access to an archives’ holdings was more than managing metadata and finding aids. It had to incorporate understandings about how various cultures shape the way people interact with archival institutions, especially government archives. Heightening awareness of cultural differences among staff and with communities is a critical skill for successful 21st century archives. It requires knowledge and interpersonal skill on the part of archives staff when engaging people of different backgrounds, assumptions, beliefs, values, and behaviors.

BACKER is developing and delivering new and expanded technical assistance, educational programming, and training to state and territorial government archives to strengthen their digital records preservation and accessibility capacities. One of BACKER’s overarching goals is accelerating development and implementation of cultural competence awareness and skill-building in a variety of formats in order to facilitate continued learning and sharing among archives staff.

With the expertise and facilitation of consultant Helen Wong Smith, Managing Cross-Cultural Differences has assembled a variety of useful tools and resources.