The Library Diversity Council (LDC) subcommittee on learning curriculum and event planning has recently launched the Inclusive Intercultural Skills Series (IISS). I would like to give a special acknowledgement to Angelina Zaytsev, Collection Services Librarian for HathiTrust, for conceptualizing the series and leading the sub-committee in bringing it to life.
The premise behind the series is that diversity work is, at root, recognizing each other as individuals who have many intersecting identities, many life experiences and culturally infused ways of engaging with the world around us. These differences make all of us unique individuals with interesting, and often surprising commonalities. Just like any other skill, we may not be naturally good at navigating these differences as we interact with each other, and it does require practice. How can we engage in diversity work at the interpersonal level? How can we improve our capacity to be culturally sensitive and to respect each other's differences? This series being offered to the U-M library community (and possibly beyond) explores these and other inclusive intercultural questions.
The end goal of the series is that participants will be able to communicate and connect in healthier, more emotionally robust ways, even when conflicts and differences arise. A side benefit of this may be that members of the library community will learn about each other, similar to the My IDEA series, and will be able to build new and reinforce pre-existing connections. The series is built on a peer-led, mutual discovery process. Members of the LDC guide the sessions, but are not necessarily experts in the skills discussed and practiced or in methods of teaching the skills. LDC guides will, however, provide a space and set the context within which participants can learn from each other.
Each session will feature the following components:
- A reading or video that participants will read or view in advance.
- A practice component where participants can practice the skill together in person.
- Individual and shared reflection where participants think about the skill and how to implement it in their lives.
The series began in late 2017 with the topic of “Deep Listening”. The sub-committee has now conducted five sessions devoted to this topic and plan on delivering at least two more. More topics are being considered now, so stay tuned for more Inclusive Intercultural Skills development and practice opportunities. While IISS sessions will continue to be offered as library-wide sign up events, unit managers and supervisors, inside and outside the library, are encouraged to consider hosting a session specifically for a work team. If you would like to learn more, request a session for your team, suggest an IISS topic + sources or get actively involved in this sub-committee, please contact the LDC directly; firstname.lastname@example.org.