Cultural Humility in Academic Librarianship: Interview with DEI Librarian Twanna Hodge

Cultural Humility in Academic Librarianship: Interview with DEI Librarian Twanna Hodge

Twanna Hodge’s article “Integrating Cultural Humility into Public Services Librarianship” reinforces the importance of cultural humility in librarianship. In this blog post, I interview Twanna Hodge, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida, on how we can incorporate cultural humility into academic librarianship. 

Jamia: You wrote, “It is knowing that you need to meet people where they are because everyone is starting at different places.” How can academic librarians use this better with our interactions with students? 

Two students outside of their libraryTwanna: Everyone is not at the same place, nor will they ever be. Consider the identities, experiences, backgrounds, etc., of the students you are supporting—meeting them where they are means more than just physically, especially in this hybrid environment. It entails taking into account the intellectual, emotional, and psychological levels of the students whom you are helping. Keep in mind the current climate with COVID-19, anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate, anti-indigeneity, etc., that are impacting everyone differently. What are the potential barriers facing students? What can you do to ensure that you are meeting them where they are? Do you sympathize or empathize with them? Are you utilizing a trauma-informed or healing-informed framework? 

As you create or update new programs, services, and more for students, ponder what you know about them. What stereotypes, biases, or misinformation might you have about them that could influence your perceptions and your work with students? An important tenet of cultural humility is redressing power imbalances. How can you do so, especially during your interactions with students? 

Jamia: Cultural humility is a lifelong journey, so what are you doing to get to know who you are as a librarian?

Twanna: I am giving myself time to reflect on my identity as a librarian and to critique the expectations, beliefs, behaviors, and more expected of me as a librarian. It is also working to understand how my personal identities intersect and work together or in conflict: being kind to myself during this journey; being open to learning from others and situations; continually educating myself about the culture that my identities have and how they shift and change. 

It is being cognizant of the power dynamics, power, privilege, and positionality I have along with others. That in any situation, I have oppressed/marginalized identities and ones with power. I think about being a Black/Afro-Caribbean cisgender female tenure track Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Librarian working at a predominantly, historically, traditionally white institution in the deep south, conscious of how I got where I am and the space that I occupy. For me, it is challenging the norms—misconceptions of what it means to be a librarian and to look like one. This is a journey that I must work on. I am aware that I have much to learn and experience, and what it means to be a librarian changes based on my identities. 

Twanna HodgeTwanna Hodge (she/her/hers) is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Librarian at the University of Florida Libraries. She has been with the libraries since February 2020 in her current position. She holds an MLIS from the University of Washington. Her research and professional interests are diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues and efforts in the LIS curriculum and workplace, library residencies and fellowships, cultural humility in librarianship, and the retention of underrepresented and BIPOC library staff in librarianship. She is a 2013 Spectrum Scholar and 2018 ALA Emerging Leader.

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