University of Wisconsin–Madison

NEW! Cultural Competence in Libraries: Encouraging Reflective Practice

The United States population is increasingly diverse. As such, effectively serving diverse patrons is as relevant as ever, especially when employing a broad conception of diversity. Race and ethnicity, religion, ability, veteran status, sexual identity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment comprise a selection of various forms of patron diversity that librarians and library staff may encounter in their daily work. Given this broad conceptualization of diversity, how can one possibly understand every cultural or social group? Is doing so even possible? If not, what can be done to mitigate potential inappropriate or harmful actions?

This course will explore these and other related questions using the Critical Incident Technique. With reflective practice as the underlying strategy, this course will leverage individual personal and professional experience to create a customized framework to better understand and engage with increasingly diverse, changing, and intersecting contexts.

At a glance

When: Feb 6 – Mar 7, 2022

Where: Online

Cost: $150 (10% discount if you register 2 weeks before the start date)

CE Credit: 1.4 CEUs/14 LEUs

Program: #306422

Questions? Contact Meredith Lowe or Anna Palmer

Register online

Due to the continuation of remote work, please use the online registration option. If you need alternate arrangements, email Anna Palmer, or Meredith Lowe, Alternate registration options may result in delays.

Payment and Cancellation Policy

Course description


  • Cultural Competence
    • What is cultural competence?
    • Where does the term come from?
    • How is it taught and learned?
    • How as the concept been applied in libraries?
      • Exploring existing models and frameworks
    • Critical Incident Technique
      • What is it?
      • How can it be used to inform practice?
    • Reflective Practice
      • What is it?
      • What does it mean to be reflective?
      • What does it mean to be critical?
    • Moving from theory to practice
      • How can I use the Critical Incident Technique and reflective practice to inform my work?

Expectations: Your pass/fail grade is based on the following weekly activities: (1) viewing short lectures, (2) completing assigned readings, and discussing course topics with classmates and instructor. Additionally, throughout the course, you will draft an essay using the concepts from class to create an individual framework to inform your practice.

Instructor: Eric Ely is a PhD candidate in the Information School at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research is centered in academic libraries and focuses on the role of these institutions as disruptors or enablers of larger social inequities and inequalities. He has published multiple articles focusing on cultural competence and diversity, equity, and inclusion within academic libraries. Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in History and a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies, both from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.