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The culturally relevant reference interview


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  • 1. THE CULTURALLY RELEVANT REFERENCE INTERVIEW Nataly Blas and Emily Mann Reference and Instruction Services, Jackson Library April 6, 2013
  • 2. What is cross-cultural communication? Why is it important in a reference interview?
  • 3. Definitions • Communication Barrier: Obstacle in a workplace that prevents exchange of ideas or thoughts. (i.e. cultural differences) • Cross-Cultural Communication: A process of exchanging, negotiating, and mediating one's cultural differences through language, non-verbal gestures, and space relationships. • Cultural competence: A congruent set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable a person or group to work effectively in cross- cultural situations. (ACRL, National Association of Social Workers, 2001) • Diversity: State or fact of being diverse; different characteristics and experiences that define individuals. • Reference Interview: Approachability –> Interest –> Listening/Inquiring –> Searching –> Follow Up
  • 4. The Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Cross Cultural Communication ACRL Diversity Standards RUSA Guidelines
  • 5. ACRL Diversity Standards Standard 1: Cultural awareness of self and others Standard 2: Cross-cultural knowledge and skills Standard 5: Service Delivery Standard 6: Language Diversity Standard 10: Professional education and continuous learning
  • 6. Cross-Cultural Communication Barriers Cultural • Different non-verbal communications • Different role relationships • Lack of cultural awareness Functional • Different experiences with libraries • Different research skills • Different experience with technology Language • Non-native English speakers • Accents, slang, jargon
  • 7. Reference Interview Approachability Interest Listening/InquiringSearching Follow Up
  • 8. Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Approachability • Friendly greeting; smiling • Speaking in a relaxed tone, perhaps slower than usual • Assure patron you are there to help
  • 9. Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Interest • Providing your full attention • Non-verbal cues, nodding to display understanding • Be aware of cross-cultural rules, such as personal space
  • 10. Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Listening/Inquiring • Watch for non-verbal communication cues • Speak slowly and avoid jargon • Paraphrase to check mutual understanding • You may ask the patron to write something down for clarification
  • 11. Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Searching • Ask and encourage questions • Keep the process clear and simple • Take the time to explain library jargon, such as database or catalog • Be enthusiastic about the topic
  • 12. Culturally Relevant Reference Interview Follow Up • Ask if the question was completely answered • Refer to subject specialist if necessary, make sure to explain the process • Be flexible and try different ways of communicating
  • 13. Tips for Communicating Across Cultures • Be patient, don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications, and follow up • Don’t make assumptions, (blurb about one size does not fit all) • Avoid jargon, idioms, and jokes (this includes library jargon) • Be aware of language differences, such as accents • Be aware of your body language, such as personal space and eye contact • Speak slower, but not necessarily louder • Try different ways of communication • Be open, flexible, and willing to increase your multicultural awareness
  • 14. Beyond the Reference Desk • Library tours in various languages • Diversity in the library’s collection • Multilingual services, such as tutors or translation services • Library materials in other languages • Cross-cultural Communication training for library staff
  • 15. Questions?
  • 16. References • ACRL Diversity Standards, • Brothen, E. & Bennet, E. (2013). The Culturally Relevant Reference Interview: How to Enhance Reference Transactions in a Era of Diversity. In Library Sources for Multicultural Patrons, 35, 297-302 • Garner, S. (2003). Bridging the Intercultural Communication Gap at the Reference Desk. Legal Services Quarterly. 22(2), 7-33. • Osa, J. O., Nyana, S. A., & Ogbaa, C. A. (2006). Effective Cross-Cultural Communication to Enhance Reference Transactions: Training Guidelines and Tips. Knowledge Quest, 35(2), 22-24. • RUSA Guidelines,