Diversity is not a goal for libraries to achieve; it’s the reality in which libraries already operate. Today’s youth are more diverse (in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, religion, and ability) than at any other point in our nation’s history. In recognition of that fact, respect for diversity, inclusion of cultural values, and provision of culturally competent services are central to the work of ALA’s youth divisions. 

The resources included in this site support national professional competencies and standards for school and public youth services librarians. Specifically, these resources have been selected to help youth services librarians develop their competencies related to the following professional benchmarks identified by YALSA, ALSC, and AASL:

YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff (2017)


  • Shows warmth, caring, and respect for all teens and their families
  • Recognizes and respects the diversity of teens and their families, and understands this diversity impacts all areas of practice
  • Recognizes the systemic inequities that exist in our institutions and communities and strives to dismantle them and to provide equitable access for and with all youth
  • Takes an asset-based approach to working for and with teens and their families
Competency Content Areas:
  • Content Area 2 – Interactions with Teens: Recognizes the importance of relationships and communication in the development and implementation of quality teen library services, and implements techniques and strategies to support teens individually and in group experiences to develop self-concept, identity, coping mechanisms, and positive interactions with peers and adults.
  • Content Area 4 – Youth Leadership and Engagement: Responds to all teens’ interests and needs, and acts in partnership with teens to plan and implement library activities and to foster teen leadership.
  • Content Area 7 – Cultural Competency and Responsiveness: Actively promotes respect for cultural diversity and creates an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful library atmosphere that embraces diversity.
  • Content Area 8 -Equity of Access: Ensures access to a wide variety of library resources, services, and activities for and with all teens, especially those facing challenges to access.
  • Content Area 10 – Continuous Learning: Acts ethically, is committed to continuous learning, and advocates for best library practices and policies for teen services.

To see a full description of the competencies associated with each Competency Content Area, download this PDF.

ALSC’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries (2015)

Commitment to Client Group:

  • Demonstrates respect for diversity and inclusion of cultural values, and continually develops cultural awareness and understanding of self and others.
  • Recognizes racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts them by way of culturally competent services.
  • Recognizes the effects of societal factors, new knowledge and tools, income inequality, health and food insecurity, etc., on the needs of children.

Reference and User Services:

  • Creates and maintains a physical and digital library environment that provides the best possible access to materials and resources for children of all cultures and abilities and their caregivers.
  • Models customer service with children and their caregivers that is culturally respectful and developmentally appropriate, and works to overcome systems of discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of information services available in the community and broader society, and makes appropriate referrals for the library’s diverse constituencies.
  • Models and encourages use of culturally diverse materials and services through bibliographies, booktalks, displays, electronic documents, social media, and other tools.

Programming Skills

  • Integrates literacy-development techniques in program design and delivery, engaging and empowering caregivers in a culturally competent way.
  • Identifies and empowers colleagues, coworkers, and community members from diverse backgrounds to contribute ideas and skills for programs and information presentations.
  • Delivers programs outside or inside the library to meet users where they are, addressing community and educational needs, including those of unserved and underserved populations.

Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials

  • Maintains a diverse collection that is inclusive of the needs of all children and their caregivers in the community, and recognizes children’s need to see and learn about people like and unlike themselves in the materials they access.
  • Advocates for and purchases materials by and about underrepresented communities, addressing the need for more representation of marginalized groups.
  • Maintains collections in different languages, as appropriate, to remove linguistic barriers to access.
  • Understands and applies criteria for evaluating the content, artistic merit, and cultural authenticity of children’s materials in all genres and formats.

Outreach and Advocacy

  • Advocates for eliminating barriers to library service for children based on socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities, and for overcoming systems of discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism.
  • Communicates and collaborates in partnership with other agencies, institutions, and organizations serving children in the community, to achieve common goals and overcome barriers created by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities.
  • Successfully communicates library policies and procedures to patrons of all ages, promoting library use and eliminating communication barriers based on linguistic and other diversities.
  • Communicates effectively when addressing or presenting to large or small groups of children and/or adults, writes proficiently and adjusts content, style, and delivery format to accommodate diverse functions and audiences, and possesses technology skills and cultural competencies that enhance communication.

Administrative and Management Skills

  • Develops and supports organizational values dedicated to fostering culturally competent services.
  • Advocates for recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts to increase diversity in the workplace.
  • Works to eliminate discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism in the workplace.

Professionalism and Professional Development

  • Develops an understanding of her or his own personal and cultural values, beliefs, and sociocultural identities, including racial, class, and gender identities, as a first step in appreciating the importance of culturally diverse identities in the workplace and wider community.
  • Develops an understanding of the effects of racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion within the profession, and of techniques for disrupting them and promoting cultural competence.
  • Advocates for, participates in, and provides educational and training programs that help advance cultural competency within the profession.

AASL’s National School Library Standards (2017)

Resources in this collection support school librarians’ work related to Shared Foundation II. Include: Demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity in the learning community. The resources included here can help school librarians address the learner, school librarian, and school library program standards included within this shared foundation.