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Websters dictionary defines culture as being the

beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society,

group, place, or time.

These are things that we learn

as we evolve and develop into the people we are

destined to become.

We are all apart of our own

smaller cultures whether we define it by our

nationality, color, creed, personal beliefs or sexual

Within these groups we also fall into a

larger culture of being an American, and following the

customs and beliefs of this society.
Ones culture is stemmed from ideas and beliefs
that were created and passed down from generation to

Over the years, as societies changed so

does ones culture.

We all try to grab hold of our

roots and hold tight to things weve garnered and

passed down from the previous generations. We all are
aware that things get modified in order to fit into the
world that we live in today. We tweak things here and
there to make them what we believe to be a little

We try to make the process a little faster, or

to include whatever fad is currently trending.

Therefore, when thinking about culture one has to

realize that it is not something that is stagnant, but

something that is constantly evolving in order to fit
the needs of the people within its culture.
While considering the types of culture a library
may have I ran across a more appropriate definition of

A way of thinking, behaving, or working that

exists in a place or organization. Much like the

previous definition, libraries establish their culture
by first studying the community that they serve, and
then by creating an environment that will meet the
needs of that community.

The word culture falls under

a huge umbrella; there are many things that it can be

associated with. When trying to develop a successful
plan, one must first realize that culture is learned.
So how do you and the rest of the library staff learn
about the needs of their community in order to
establish their library culture?
The first thing that should be accomplished when
establishing the internal culture of a library is
creating a mission statement.

Your mission statement

should include your specific goals, what your values

are, and your inspirations. The mission statement

should be welcoming to all and all staff should believe

in the mission statement of the library.
The Chicago Public Librarys (CPL) mission
statement is pretty long compared to some of the
mission statements that I looked up. The one phrase
that CPL markets is that they believe in the freedom to
Read, Learn, and Discover. Just these three words
encompass so much. One can learn many things in a
library setting, like how to order material, how to use
a computer, or learning information on a specific

Another opportunity in a library is to

discover, one could discover a new book or a program

that is taking place in the library.

This is an

example of how a mission statement should state exactly

what they plan to accomplish.

The second issue that

needs to be addressed is staffing.

Staff is a crucial part of any organization,
especially for staff in a library setting.


culture has to be built from within and made strong by

upper management. Researchers believe that there are
four traits of culture that exert positive influence on
employees performance. Those traits are involvement,

accessibility, consistency and mission (insert


Employees need to feel that they are

involved in the process of organizations culture


Resources need to be accessible to staff

and to patrons, and patrons should know that know that

the services that they get will be consistent. The best
way to accomplish this is by establishing a culture
within the librarys organization.

This helps staff

members with the skills needed in order to interpret

events and issues.

Organizational culture also helps

with continuity so that everyone in the organization is

on the same page across the board.

It helps to

establish a healthier work environment and when staff

feels that their needs are being met within the library
they are able to provide better service to library

An example of internal library culture would be

how users of the library are labeled.

Do you refer to

them as patrons? Customers? Or do you use something


The creation of staff titles is another way

organizational culture is formed in libraries.

Traditional titles could always be used but depending
on what your communitys culture is you may decide not

to use different titles to make the roles assessable to

the users.

Another form of internal culture will be

the rules and regulation of the library.


information needs to be put to print as soon as

possible to provide users with a clear and concise
picture of what is expected of them while they use
library services. The other end of the spectrum is the
external culture of the library.
Many times staff will have to do some outside
research in order to assess the needs of the community.
In a city like Chicago there are many different kinds
of people and many different communities and culture
within this city.

First one has to determine what the

community dynamics are, what languages are spoken

within the community and what their cultural norms are.
This research will help the library to determine where
libraries should be located and what programs and
library material need to be included in each library.
Staff would have to develop relationships with
community members so that they can put together a
resource guide in order to best serve their community.
Some examples of community resources that the community

may need are, institutions that help people attain a

GED, job placement institutions, English as a second
language classes, resume writing assistance, Driving
motor vehicle study guides and even help with locating
shelters and food pantries. Depending on how many
libraries there are within a single library system will
determine which specific needs within that community.
The Chicago Public Library is unique in that they
have libraries in every community of the city. By
having so many libraries every culture can be
represented in some way, but there is a process to
determine a good place for the library. The librarys
administration first determines the need to have a
library in a particular community.

After this

determination is made, a plan is put together with a

budget and a library is built in that community.
Depending on where the library is located and what the
population of that community is, determines what
programs the library will have, the staff that will be
placed in the library and the kind of collection
development that needs to take place.

Collection development is a very important part of

the culture of a library.

What books and serves you

have within the library should serve all members of the

community without discrimination based on cultural and
linguistic heritage.

The collection should provide

information in appropriate languages and scripts

(UNESCO, 2001).

All this should be in a collection

while being inclusive to all cultures, genders and


This consideration will help to create a

multicultural library community as well.

As the U.S population is becoming increasingly
diverse, library communities have to come to recognize
the importance of providing a multicultural

Many libraries have set up diversity

committees and even residential programs for

minorities(Yeo, Jacobs, 2006).

However, diversity does

not mean much if we as professionals dont have an

understanding of how the dominant culture and ideas are
articulated within our libraries and our daily
practices (Yeo, Jacobs, 2006).

We also must be able to

identify that to help make the library more

multicultural, we have to challenge our own views. By

working in an environment that is open to the public

where that anyone can walk through the doors. We will
encounter people that have different views that we
have, are apart of a different religion that we may be
apart of.

We will encounter people that are of a

different gender, ethnicity and sexuality and we still

have to be able to assist these individuals to the best
of our ability.
While all organizations have some type of
culture that they expect their employees to follow, a
library has to two separate cultures that make up its

Libraries have to follow the internal

and external culture if they plan to achieve success in

meeting the needs of the library users.

Most people

are apart of many cultures, ones that they learned

growing up in the United States, ones that were learned
within their family unit, and ones that they personally
identify with. Library professional, administration and
paraprofessionals must take all of these things into
consideration when developing the culture of their
library within a specific community.


development, programming and services should reflect

the community that you serve without bias and


The library is a place where

conflicting ideas co-exist, where people can discover

undiscovered knowledge, and where the powerless can be
empowered through access to knowledge (Yeo, S., Jacobs,
J. 2006).