Cultural Inquiry: A Framework for Engaging Youth of Color in the Library

Document Type



This article describes the conceptual underpinnings of a learning approach described as cultural inquiry. This learning approach grew from the author’s work with a diverse group of African American youth in an after school book club, named Circle of Voices. The purpose of describing this learning approach is to help youth services librarians develop strategies for engaging youth of color in the library. An equally important goal of this work is to provide a theoretical framework for explaining some of the cultural disconnects that youth of color experience while learning in mainstream schools and libraries. Some of the theoretical influences of this learning approach, which are described in this article include: social constructivist theory, critical pedagogy, and the Afrocentric idea in education. Contrasts are drawn between the conceptual underpinnings of information inquiry and cultural inquiry. Lastly, Callison’s four phases of inquiry are used to contextualize real world examples of cultural inquiry from the Circle of Voices book club.


Library and Information Science


This article was previously published in The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (Nov. 2010) and is available at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2010/11/cultural-inquiry-a-framework-for-engaging-youth-of-color-in-the-library/.