Culturally Responsive Public Services

Session Description
Libraries strive to welcome all members of their communities, but many fall short of their desire to truly reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. The work of diversity and inclusion requires deeper engagement than offering a few programs coinciding with special holidays and similar initiatives. This program will draw on the principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching — a pedagogical framework gaining traction in academic library instruction departments — to inspire librarians to transform how we provide library public services, such as access services, reference, and community outreach. The session will introduce key principles of cultural responsiveness, guide participants through self-reflection exercises, and encourage collaborative development of practices for building inclusive public services.
Presenter(s)

Sarah Copeland, Director, Desks and Patron Experience, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Sarah Copeland
Sarah Copeland is Assistant Professor and the Director of the Desks and Patron Experience team at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library. Her professional experience in academic libraries has included collections management, public services, instruction, assessment, and administration. Sarah draws on her varied experience to collaborate across departments in the pursuit of improving user experience.


Chapel Cowden, Health and Science Instruction Librarian, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Chapel Cowden
Chapel Cowden is the Health & Science Librarian and a UC Foundation Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she also teaches Perspectives on Death and Dying for the University’s Honors College. Chapel is passionate about applying mechanisms to promote critical thinking and the construction of authentic learning environments into her instruction classroom, with the belief that we should strive to prepare students not only for “what’s now” but for “what’s next”. Her research interests include bibliometrics, culturally responsive teaching, and death positivity.


Lu Gao, Student, SUNY Albany

Lu Gao
Lu Gao is a postgraduate student at University at Albany (SUNY). She is working on her Information Science CAS certificate. She is from China. She has earned a B.A in International Trade and a Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS). Her educational and work experiences are cross-cultural and bring a diverse perspective to academic librarianship. She is passionate about applying Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) in library instructions to promote inclusivity for culturally diverse students. Her research interests include data analysis, culturally responsive teaching, and multimedia information sources.

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