Information Literacy in the Context of LGBT Community: A Survey of National and International Publications

Article Authored By: Selma Leticia Capinzaiki Otttanicar, Jean Fernandes Brito, Rafaela Carolina Silva, Everaldo Henrique dos Santos Barbosa, and Cassia Regina Bassan de Moraes

Reviewed by: Kacie Cox, Rachel Moore, Shannen Moore, Minnie Esquivel Gopar, and Patrick Washington

Link to article:

Article Synopsis

The LGBTQ community still faces discrimination in society due to prejudice, but it is important to research the difficulties that the community faces so that we can improve the community’s quality of life and access to resources. This article focuses on the ways in which literature in the library and information sciences (LIS) field has addressed the LGBTQ community in research. Specifically, the article is determining the information competence (CoInfo) of the research available in terms of creating pathways for lifelong learning for the LGBTQ community and highlighting the importance of diversity. There are two main objectives seen in this article; to understand how CoInfo can lead to respect and developments for the LGBTQ community, as well as looking at how LIS literature has included the LGBTQ community in research.

The researchers conducted a systematic literature review regarding CoInfo issues surrounding the LGBTQ community using international databases to yield diverse, global perspectives. The results showed that research in LIS still shies away from addressing the LGBTQ community on both an international and national level. Additionally, it was found that there may be a barrier to information literacy for those who are older within the LGBTQ community, resulting in a lack of access to information and resources. The researchers determined that CoInfo in LGBTQ literature can assist the community in developing more information literacy through reducing misinformation, learning how to critically interpret information, and gaining a better understanding of the community itself.

Research Questions

1. How can information competence help others respect the LGBTQ Community?
2. What research has already been completed in terms of information competence and the LGBTQ community?
3. What are the barriers information seekers face in terms of the LGBTQ community?
4. How is information disseminated to the public?
5. How can the standards for information competency be applied specifically to the LGTBQ community?
6. What can we learn from the information cycle as it applies to the LGBTQ community?


Three international databases were used for this literature review: Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA), Web of Science (WOS), and Scopus. The Brazilian database Base de Dados em Ciência de Informação (BRAPCI). There was no date limit set to the search, and all terms were searched in English. The search was limited to works from areas of Social Science and Applied Social Science. The authors then categorized and analyzed the articles they collected, ensuring that the articles contained relevant information. They then took the standards of information competency and applied them to the LGTBQ community, creating a theoretical framework to show how information competency can lead to respect for the LGBTQ Community.

Findings and Conclusions

Ottonicar et al (2019) found that information competence among LGBTQ people is a crucial element that bridges gaps in access to information. Their findings also provided some context regarding the varying information needs of the community. Transgender individuals, for example, have different information needs than do cisgender individuals. Similarly, lesbian and bisexual individual’s information needs differ from those of gay men. The variety and diversity of the individuals among LGBTQ communities offer a challenge to information accessibility because of the diversity of information needs. Ottonicar et al (2019) argued that misinformation, stereotypes, and prejudicial information create a barrier to information access regarding the LGBTQ community. They emphasized the vital importance of the dissemination of accurate information about this community in order to provide relevant context and to guide ethical information behavior by and about the LGBTQ community. The promulgation of accurate information for and about this community is essential in order to educate others and counter misinformation and thus leads to greater awareness and acceptance of the community, and to greater information competency in general.

The authors commended the information competency of LGBTQ individuals but concluded that this competency was linked to barriers to access to information. Individuals who were skilled at seeking and evaluating information about the LGBTQ community often had little recourse other than to utilize those skills. The findings concluded that the LIS community remains slow to address the information needs of this population. Even the survey of literature conducted herein contained only a few titles that directly addressed LGBTQ information-seeking behaviors, access to information, and information competency. In addition, they noted the uneven application of programming and information by and about this community, and the ways in which stigma continues to operate to preclude access to information. Access to more information, and more accurate information, is essential to reducing the stigma associated with the LGBTQ community. The more knowledgeable that people are about this community, the less likely they are to be prejudiced against them, and the more likely they are to respect them and to respect all aspects of diversity within their communities. The authors also suggest an interdisciplinary approach be taken to further research between the social sciences and information sciences.

What American Libraries Can Learn

The intersectional LGBTQ+ community experiences successes and unique adversities globally. Flores (2019), has found that the average level of LGBT global acceptance (i.e., a country’s average societal attitude toward LGBT people that is expressed in public attitudes and beliefs about LGBT people and rights) has increased from 1981-2017 (p.5). Approximately 28 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, there is more LGBTQ visibility in media and society, the Equality Act is a historic piece of LGBTQ legislation to ensure civil rights, bans on conversion therapy have been enacted by 20 states in the U.S., and there are even openly LGBTQ celebrities, public figures, politicians, and world leaders. The authors of this article clearly articulate that changes in legislation to ensure human rights and that include discrimination protections for sexual minorities positively affect public sentiment and acceptance. However, they also critique the notion that LGBTQ specific information and rights have reached a level of global acceptance or information competence that would address the historical disenfranchisement in representation and actuality. In the United States, there are varied examples of criminalization of LGBTQ existence along with historical and systemic erasure. Moreover, while marriage may be one right gained, many LGBTQ folks still face rampant discrimination and violence, poverty, displacement, and even government-sanctioned persecution. All these factors contribute to the challenges the LGBTQ community can face when searching for information about self-actualization, identity formation, demographics, health, community, or belonging. The best way for global libraries and information professionals to serve the information needs of the intersectional LGBTQ+ community is by proactively communicating to government officials, members of the community, legislators, and internal and external stakeholders that the library functions to uphold the intellectual freedoms of all intersectional diverse patrons by upholding functions of social justice and human rights. Therefore, as Ottonicar et al (2019) communicate, LIS professionals must continue to engage in subverting the stereotypes and misconceptions to then promote information competence about the LGBTQ+ community while seeking to address the barriers to access of information.

A library contains the essence of a society translated into text. It functions, in part, as a mirror, reflecting the beliefs, strengths, and accomplishments of society through the literature that lines its shelves. For this reason, it is pivotal that libraries not deny representation to any segment of society. A library is more than a mirror; it is part of an organization committed to providing equal access to information for all patrons without discrimination, prejudice, or bias. (Albright, 2006, p. 55)

Ottonicar et al and Albright justifiably assert the foundational ethics and purpose of libraries and information institutions and organizations as a cultural archive, information hub, democratic equalizer, community center, technological equalizer, etc. This understanding is imperative to serving traditionally underserved and multi-marginalized intersectional communities like the LGBTQ information community. This cognizance, promoted as best professional practice in the article, can be implemented in libraries in the United States and comparable MLIS programs. Moreover, the exigency to look beyond Eurocentric heteropatriarchal imperialistic ethnocentrism and as Schwartz (2013) deftly puts, “Learn Globally, Act Locally.”
Ottonicar et al also highlight the paucity of information regarding LIS and the LGBTQ community indicating a clear need for additional research, this is also true for U.S. libraries. In addition, the authors reported varying responses to queries about library program offerings targeted at the LGBTQ community. It is likely that American libraries, too, differ wildly in terms of their offerings for their specific LGBTQ community. Libraries must offer information about this community and programs that serve the community not just to meet the information needs of LGBTQ individuals, but also to counter misinformation, stereotypes, and negative assumptions. Doing so benefits everyone, as access to this information also strengthens the information competence of those who are not a part of this group. American libraries could also benefit from the expertise of highly competent LGBTQ information seekers, possibly by pairing individuals in a mentor-mentee manner. A similar offering aimed at increasing knowledge about the LGBTQ community would be useful in both meeting the needs of those who are developing information competency and highlighting the skills of those who have. Finally, highly developed information competency requires the ability to assess context and nuanced understanding regarding the legal and ethical ramifications of certain kinds of information. Thus, U.S. based LIS professionals serving the information needs of the LGBTQ community will educate those not a part of it on these higher-level information competencies.


Albright, M. (2006). The public library’s responsibilities to LGBT communities: Recognizing, representing, and serving. Public Libraries, 45(5), 52–56.

Flores, A. (2019). Social acceptance of LGBT people in 174 countries, 1981 to 2017. The Williams Institute, Los Angeles, CA.

Ottonicar, S. L. C., Brito, J. F., Silva, R. C., dos Santos Barbosa, E. H., & Bassan de Moraes, C. R. (2019, April). Information literacy in the context of LGBT community: A survey of national and international publications. Informacao & Informacao, 24(1), 484-512. doi:10.5433/1981-8920.2019v24n1p484

Schwartz, M. (2013). Learn Globally, Act Locally: World Library Connections.

Advancing the conversation: Next steps for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) health sciences librarianship

Article Authored By: Hawkins, B. W., Morris, M., Nguyen. T., Siegel, J., & Vardell, E.

Reviewed by: Gender Diverse Group: Amy Johnson, Spencer Winstead, Monica Barber, Amy Hinckley

Link to article:

(Reviewers’ note: We chose to mirror the LGBTQ acronym used in the article instead of the more currently used and inclusive LGBTQ+. Language is ever evolving and if this article were to be published today, LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA+ is the language one would expect to see.)
This article is a write up of the panel discussion on improving health science libraries’ service to LGBTQ patrons, presented at the 2016 Medical Library Association and Canadian Health Library Association’s annual meeting. The purpose of the discussion was to create an on-going conversation and bring awareness and visibility to the importance of cultural competence skills and understanding of LGBTQ-specific health information needs for health science libraries through the use of creating professional standards, training, and evidence-based research. The panel discussed cultural competence as it relates to the overall effect on the diverse health needs of LGBTQ patrons, the overall lack of reliable health information reaching LGBTQ youth, and a real need to provide training for health librarians—specifically in learning culturally relevant terminology and creating welcoming spaces for LGBTQ patrons to find information. The panel made suggestions for the health librarian professionals to create a toolkit for reference, implement professional training, and utilize creative thinking to provide outreach to this underserved group.
An international perspective is achieved in respect to providing health information services to LGBTQ patrons due to both the international professional association audience to which it was presented and by the diversity of the panel members who gave the panel presentation, as well as the research the panel members included in their presentation and discussion. The research for the discussion and associated article represented health librarian service to LGBTQ patrons in countries including Canada, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The panelists themselves were from both Canada and the United States. The Medical Library Association partners with the World Medical Library Association, which has members in six continents. The intention of this panel was to create a universal conversation to all their health librarian colleagues and encourage a standardized progress in professional service to providing universal LGBTQ health information.
The broad theme of the conversation was the future of services to LGBTQ patrons of Health Science Libraries. The two primary questions that framed the conversation were: (1) How can Health Science Librarians best serve LGBTQ patrons and their specific and evolving needs, and (2) How can the profession encourage a research agenda to build an evidence base in this area. Each panelist gave a short presentation that shared their knowledge and experience, covering topics such as information needs of LGBTQ patrons, current issues in LGBTQ health information, as well as suggestions for how health science librarians can improve their services to these patrons.

In order to gain a broad range of answers to these questions, the six panelists were chosen with diversity of experiences and backgrounds in mind. The panelists represented many different aspects of librarianship, including academic research, public and academic libraries, as well as hospital libraries and community-based health service providers. All had specific interest and history serving the LGBTQ community, and many of the panelists shared their own research conducted around this topic. After the panel was concluded, the perspectives offered were summarized, discussed, reflected upon, and the recommendations that emerged from that conversation are presented in this paper.

In general, the authors found that libraries are not meeting the information needs of their LGBTQ patrons, and more specifically with health-based questions. Furthermore, fluency of librarians’ understanding of the effective interactions is also lacking. Nguyen states that the use of the “Diversity Wheel” and “Gingerbread Person” (2017, p. 317-319) are fairly effective tools at bringing up LGBTQ conversations about diversity and inclusiveness within an organization. These two tools also have their drawbacks, in that they still can be reductive, such as the “Gingerbread Person” using binary classifications of feminine and masculine.

Hawkins argues that LGBTQ experiences are not monolithic, and librarians need to demonstrate better competency of such when assisting these patrons. They promote two methods to improve services, first is to implement “safe space training” (p. 320) to teach librarians more sensitive vocabulary and to better promote allyship for those who do not identify as LGBTQ. Second is to build better relationships with community-based organizations.

Vardell found that librarians would benefit from more training in “using appropriate vocabulary” (p. 321). Siegel also found that most librarians are less familiar with terms “genderqueer, cisgender, gender binary, and gender variant” (p. 322). Siegel’s survey of librarians demonstrated that librarians (80%) understood and supported “additional training” to better assist their LGBTQ patrons (p. 322).

In conclusion, the authors state this field is nascent and will require more cultivation to meet the needs of patrons. One major aspect is to implement training into “critical reflective practice” for librarians and services (p. 324). But these tools are not relegated to health librarians as Hawkins states: “the strategies suggested here could be employed by librarians in all sectors” (p. 320).

To provide better health information services for LGBTQ patrons, American libraries can follow the recommendations found within this article. The study conducted by the authors demonstrates that librarians need to develop resources in creation of LGBTQ health outreach. The article presents support for the creation of a toolkit that would mark the development of librarians to “implement and evaluate other possible strategies in their institutions and make the results publicly accessible, through publication as journal articles.” (Hawkins, et al., 2017). Through the implementation, completed by means of interventions, libraries will build and attract LGBTQ patrons and encourage “critically reflective thinking” (p. 327) regarding librarianship in health sciences. The authors suggest that libraries can assist other libraries, as more attempt to create their own outreach programs, through sharing the experiences in publications. This shared experience will assist in the larger creation of a work regarding this topic that allows other libraries to create and maintain their own outreach projects with greater success.

Many LGBTQ patrons seek health information online because of limitations encountered in library settings such as outdated collections and materials, cultural stigma against LGBTQ people, lack of appropriate vocabulary and insensitivity from library staff that lack the appropriate training. To provide improved service, libraries should address these issues through the implementation of a “toolkit” for the creation of an outreach program that allows the focus to shift so that the result is an authentic experience, the development of a diverse and accurate collection and the well trained culturally sensitive and knowledgeable staff.

Everyday information behaviour of Asian immigrants in South Australia: a mixed-methods exploration

Article Authored By: Safirotu Khoir, Jia Tina Du and Andy Koronios

Reviewed by: Audora Arias, Amanda Limcaco, Karla Noa, Giovanni Padilla and Katherine Pascacio

Link to article:

Synopsis and International Perspective
Over the past decade Australia has seen an increase in the number of immigrants with the majority arriving from Asia. Resettling and adjusting to life in a new country is not always easy as it often requires great efforts on behalf of the newcomer. With the growing number of immigrants arriving in Australia it’s important to understand their informational needs and information seeking behaviors in order to facilitate them in the resettlement process. This study used a mixed method approach of surveys, interviews, and photovoice of sixteen participating Asian immigrants living in South Australia to determine their everyday informational needs, seeking behaviors, and information grounds. This study refers to information grounds as the places where immigrants share and exchange information. The research in this study included new immigrants along with longer established immigrants. In terms of information needs the results indicate that new immigrants were most concerned with health care, job vacancies, and citizenship, while longer established immigrants were concerned with information pertaining to furthering education. In the area of information seeking the study was divided into four sources: the internet, interpersonal, mass media, and formal organization. The results show that an overwhelming majority of new and longer established immigrants sought information via the internet. To determine information grounds the study was divided into four categories: virtual, physical, association, and social events. The results indicate that the majority of both new and longer established immigrants used virtual sources to share and exchange information.

This article represents an international perspective in that it researches the immediate and critical concerns of Asian immigrants living in Australia. The studies conducted in this article address some of the most common informational needs of immigrants who are learning to adjust to life in a foreign country. Resettling in a new country is a continuous process which requires continuous examination on behalf of the host country. Through this research an international perspective is provided as a means to help host countries understand how to better serve their immigrant communities. Although this study does not represent the information needs of the entire immigrant population residing in Australia, it does provide an introductory analysis of common informational concerns to enable further detailed research. Perhaps as similar studies are conducted in countries around the globe with varying immigrant groups, hosting countries can gain greater knowledge into the information needs of their immigrant communities resulting in a quicker and more effective resettlement process.

Core research questions
What sorts of information do Asian immigrants need for their settlement in South Australia?
How do Asian immigrants seek information to satisfy their everyday needs?
Where do Asian immigrants usually meet and share information?

Participants were recruited using university email networks and referrals from other participants. The 16 total participants are immigrants from India, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and China living in Adelaide, Australia.

A mixed methods approach of questionnaires, photovoice and interviews were used in this study to provide a fuller picture of information behavior amongst Asian immigrants. Participants were offered either printed or email questionnaires with questions relating to personal demographics, information needs and behaviors during settlement in Australia. The photovoice method instructed participants to use their camera phones to document photos of their information-related behavior. This allowed for deeper understanding of participants’ points of view and self-representation. A total of 73 photos were collected and categorized into themes by researchers. In person interviews ranging on average from 30 seconds to 1 minute were also conducted. Participants submitted their photos at these interviews and were encouraged to tell stories behind each photo. At these interviews, researchers could also ask clarifying questions regarding earlier questionnaire responses.

Descriptive statistical analysis was used for the questionnaires. Participatory analysis was utilized in 3 phases for the photovoice data. Phases 1 and 2 occurred during the interviews. In phase 1, the images themselves were submitted by the participants. In phase 2, participants contextualized the images by discussing them with the researchers. Phase 3 was conducted after the interviews where researchers codified stories, themes and issues that arose from the transcripts of the interviews. To test reliability of coding, inter-coding consistency was calculated with a second coder checking the coding.

Findings and Conclusions
The findings provided an insight of what information Asian immigrants needed, where, and how they achieved their everyday information needs and where they met and shared their information. In terms of information needs, the results showed how Asian immigrants’ needs changes over time as they settled down in South Australia. In the study, newcomers expressed their information needs were associated with settling in a new country, for instance employment opportunities, how to rent a house, healthcare information, how to improve their English, and good places to meet new people. Finding a job was the most challenging for newcomers, even if they already had working experience before moving to South Australia. Longer-established immigrants were more adapted to this new country than their newcomers’ counterparts and can begin making plans for a better future by contributing to their new society. Some of their information needs consist of furthering their education, planning business ventures, and getting involved in political activities. While their information needs were different, their sources of information were similar. Internet sources (40%), such as Facebook and other websites play an important role in the immigrants’ settlement. In this study, Asian immigrants had access to the Internet via home or other public spaces to satisfy their information needs and did not find any significant obstacles. Asian immigrants also considered interpersonal sources (23%), such as friends, family, and coworkers, to be the second most important information source. As for social spaces, both physical and virtual, plays an important role in the formation of everyday information grounds and information sharing among Asian immigrants. When their specific information needs are met, the smoother the settlement process will be. While this study provides an insight of the information needs/ behaviors of Asian Immigrants, the study has some limitations. Settling into a new country is an ongoing process, which would require research over a longer time span. Even with its limitations, this study provides institutions like libraries an understanding of the information needs of Asian immigrants and how to deliver better services and support.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations
Becoming a great librarian means being able to adapt to patrons’ needs. This includes designing services for diverse populations such as new immigrants. Being that this study focused on the information seeking behaviors of Asian immigrants in South Australia, the results provide a window into the kinds of programs that can be developed for similar groups in the United States.

For instance, results indicate that the immigrant groups main priority was seeking information about health care, job vacancies and citizenship. Therefore, this information can be used to develop library programs in communities that cater to majority immigrant populations.
Librarians can design programs where patrons are given a presentation on local health organizations, how to make a doctor’s appointment or where to go during an emergency. Also, librarians can create bulletin boards with information about local job opportunities. This way, patrons will stay informed and feel like the staff have their interests in mind and build trust in the library.

Citizenship information is also a key concept in the minds of new immigrants trying to assimilate into a new country. Libraries need to always be aware of this fact and provide plenty of materials in their collection to support new immigrant groups. Government related citizenship information pamphlets or other relevant documents should be readily available at the library. Also, items such as books or audiovisual materials in different languages are key to creating a good relationship between immigrants and libraries.
American libraries can learn various methods of designing services for diverse populations. There are resources available on the American Library Association (ALA) website and state websites regarding immigrant information or resources. Additionally, social platforms, literature, community and family information has made these opportunities accessible for everyone especially during times of limited interpersonal interaction.
Cultural appropriation and cultural relevance is imperative in being effective in a diverse community because this cultivates engagement and interaction between organizations, institutions and communities. This sets the foundation in designing programs and services for diverse populations and new immigrant communities. It is holding libraries accountable to their mission and vision statement and implementing ways to equip library staff members and serve communities. Moreover, with technology ever evolving libraries adapt or are learning to provide ways of access for everyone to teach, develop and learn about different cultures and opportunities for individuals. This can be determined through case study, interviews, data collection and observation of a library of how a present library is serving diverse populations and communities.
This article followed up immigrants for various reasons in regards to information behaviour. Global practices can teach American libraries how effective present programs and resources are implemented and utilized in communities. Present times and circumstances have developed social interaction, information resources and learning which can be a disadvantage for patrons and community members who do have broadband access and vital resources. These are times organizations, institutions and libraries can come together to design and implement services that influence everyone.

“The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?”

Article Authored By: Amanda Hencz, Megan Carbiener, Marisol Carrasquillo, Laura Downs, Kayla Jackson

Reviewed by: Amanda Hencz

Link to article:

Article synopsis and description of how this article represents an international perspective.
The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How do They Experience Information, takes a look into how individuals experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage in Australia experience information. The authors reiterate that having access to information online and knowing how to understand what is available can increase the opportunities afforded them. Phenomenology was used to look at two participants through interviews and results show that there is a link between being socioeconomically disadvantaged and not having the proper skills to navigate the internet effectively, leaving them further disadvantaged. The authors also argue that this information could greatly benefit other organizations that work with this population. This small study was based in Australia, but the overall assertion is that for a person to benefit from online use, then there needs to be a higher level of digital literacy.
Core research question(s).
As homelessness is on the rise, we have to assume there is not a way for them to have open access to obtain information. Therefore we as information professionals would like to find ways to provide access. Our research question is:
How can library professionals assist individuals that are experiencing homelessness obtain information?
By providing the homeless population with access to the internet so they can submit resumes, go on job interviews, take online classes to better their education, or simply to find a shelter near them. We are offering them a better chance to overcome the situation they are in. Not only do we have to offer the devices we have to offer support for use on how to utilize it to their own. Since libraries are closed we could start by going to shelters and giving them access to computers or tablets for a short period of time. While we are there we can ask questions, such as: do you know how you can benefit from internet use? Then we can show them how to email and how to research job listings.
Methods used to answer the research question(s).
In our article, the researchers used the methodological approach of Phenomenology to study the lived experience of this phenomenon – those experiencing homelessness and a lack of online information access. I found that this method worked especially well when studying individual lifestyles because it can be difficult to fully empathize or understand the holistic experience of these individuals without evaluating a broader amount of the lived experience of the socially excluded. Through this phenomenological study, the researchers collected data from these individuals in order to try to piece together their experience. A series of interviews with multiple people allowed the researchers to gain personal insight into the lives of those experiencing homelessness while also experiencing a digital divide. Having access to the internet is much more than Googling or scrolling through social media. Online access allows people to stay connected with the world around them, build their identity, and discover news and information. Without consistent and reliable internet access, these people with housing challenges are unable to fully participate in our modern, digital age. Through this method and study, the researchers found that this group of individuals experiencing homelessness understand the essential yet inadequate amount of information space they have exposure to.
Findings and conclusions.
From their study, the authors present four themes: the endless information journey; uncontrolled information space; inadequate information space; essential information space. The participants likened finding information online to an “endless journey”, with both positive and negative aspects. The convenience and practical information that was available are the positives, while the “uncontrolled information space” is a negative. Concerns about “fake” and inappropriate information were brought up by the participants. The online information space was considered inadequate because of the complexity of information and the negative interaction with organizations online. Despite this, the internet (accessed via smartphones) is an essential information space, as it holds all their personal information, and provides access to anything they need to know. Through this study, the authors found that public libraries may not be connecting with this group of community members, as they did not consider it a trustworthy place, or a place that could help them with their information needs. The authors conclude that access to the internet and the information it holds is not enough to address this digital divide. An understanding of the holistic experience of people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage and how community organizations interact with them will offer deeper insight into how effectively support this group.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
American libraries can use research from countries around the world to help provide a better environment for their particular homeless community. There could be immigrants among their homelessness as well. Being able to communicate among these residents and having them feel included within the library setting is the goal. The research approach in the study was known as phenomenological which “brought a fresh perspective to the socioeconomic disadvantage by focusing on the information experience of those affected”(Smeaton, 2017). Using research provided from global studies could bring about better services designed for the diverse populations within a library’s community because this provides thought provoking ideas that might not have been considered prior.

Kathleen Smeaton, Christine S. Bruce. “The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing
Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?” (202,Sept)Information Research: an International Electronic Journal. Information Science, Information Management, Information Systems, Information Retrieval, Digital Libraries, Information Seeking Behaviour, Information Seeking Behavior, World Wide Web, WWW, University of Borås,

Collaborative autoethnography as a way of seeing the experience of care giving as an information practice

Article Authored By: Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson & Ina Fourie

Reviewed by: Sandra Albini, Sienna Crespin, Christopher Eaton, Daisy Gutierrez & Thomas Rubenstein

Link to article:


Caring for a person diagnosed with chronic or life-threatening illnesses is a demanding, emotionally intensive job. Corresponding information behaviors (such as seeking information on the illness and searching for proper healthcare) are fundamental components of caregiving, and accordingly as Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson and Ina Fourie point out, there has been much research into the confluences of information sciences and caregiving. Dirndorfer Anderson and Fourie are information practice researchers who also act as caregivers who have found that despite the numerous scholarly articles written on the subject, there are many questions left unanswered. In their article, “Collaborative Autoethnography as a Way of Seeing the Experience of Care Giving as an Information Practice,” they surmise that researching the topic through the process of storytelling can fill in these holes. Caregiving is a mercurial task with many unexpected twists and turns that sterile scholarship can gloss over. The writing of an autoethnography reveals to both the author and reader the holistic, emotional components of the work and has the potential to reveal much about the convergence of caregiving and information seeking and providing. Through writing this article, Dirndorfer Anderson and Fourie hope to demonstrate to information researchers the value of autoethnographic work in their field and broaden the scope of information sciences around the world.

Core Research Question(s):

What can providers do for people with chronic, life-limiting, life-threatening diseases?
Explain the concept of autoethnography; in what ways can it be used? How can autoethnography address highly sensitive topics such as illness, death, and loss? How is autoethnography an ethnographic type of research? Is it a reflexive methodology; explain how? How does autoethnography and information scholars/or autoethnography and information science intersect? What is the concept of the “individual” experience? How can researchers use ethical storytelling/How can storytelling be an analytical tool? How can using autoethnography through storytelling connect caregivers and people with chronic illnesses/life-threatening diseases? What is the caregiver’s role, and how do they use autoethnography when taking care of people with chronic illness?

Methods Used to Answer the Research Question:

Anderson and Fourie (2014) make use of a technique called autoethnography to both describe and analyze the experiences of those giving care to others with chronic, terminal, or debilitating diseases. This narrative method is centered on the context of the researcher as being both the subject and object of research, as autoethnography is the self-described exploration of a cultural experience. Anderson and Fourie describe the research method as “a systematic and intentional pursuit of an understanding of the self within a socio-cultural context” (paragraph 6). Anderson and Fourie admit that this method, being based upon personal subjective experiences, has questionable qualitative value, but this is countered with the notion that such narrative-based research makes a deeper connection with the reader of the work. Because of the unique perspective and insight gained from autoethnography, Anderson and Fourie argue that this method holds greater power when used in a collaborative fashion. In the context of caregiving, Anderson and Fourie believe collaborative ethnography can reveal new sources of, or encounters with information, novel and multidimensional insights into the act of caregiving, and new knowledge about how various roles interact with one another (e.g., being both a caregiver and information professional and the interactions between them). This is a holistic approach to research that has much to reveal.

Findings and Conclusions:

This article calls for the inclusion of autoethnographic and collaborative ethnographic reports in health sciences literature as they have been generally excluded. The sharing of personal experiences can provide space for caregivers and others to reflect and reinforce the significance of witnessing. This method of narrative storytelling provides an opportunity for deeper understanding within the context of those who work with chronically-ill patients and their loved ones. The only other significant areas that are closely related to collaborative autoethnography are:

1. Drawing on repeated clusters of experience during a life-time or an extended period of life – sometimes with peak moments and critical incidents, and sometimes as part of daily life.
2. Learning how to draw on the right to quality of life and information envisioned for palliative care.
3. Sensitivity for the impact of awareness vs. unawareness.

Including autoethnographic and collaborative ethnographic reports reaches beyond analyzing data. This approach expresses life as a story to be told, respected, and engaged. Ethnography expands research beyond objectivity. In other fields of research, using this approach may also prove beneficial as it places emotional issues in a broader perspective. This method can provide information that has not been researched through traditional approaches.

What American Libraries Can Learn from Global Practice about Designing Services for Diverse Populations:

The experience of Alzheimer’s/ Dementia patrons is multi-dimensional and is not a singular experience that affects only those suffering from the disease. Caregivers are of paramount importance when considering the lived experience of those with Alzheimer’s/ Dementia and the autoethnographic approach offers a unique and creative way to document the experiences of caregivers,while researching ways to best support their community. This form of storytelling that this article promotes can be of great value and benefit when thinking about designing services for diverse populations in the United States. When considering these populations, it is important to remember that the members of the target community each have their own unique stories and perspectives. Just like the Alzheimer’s/ Dementia community, those with diverse backgrounds have no singular narrative that defines who they are and what their needs may be. American libraries would benefit greatly from adapting autoethnographic practices when designing services. It offers a more holistic approach to designing for diverse populations that is lacking in the American library system. With a push toward creating more inclusive and culturally responsive library spaces, the stories of those who are part of the community become incredibly important. Library professionals can read about diverse populations, can hold professional development on how to be culturally responsive librarians, but actually hearing and reading the stories from those within the community can provide an insurmountable amount of information that can guide the type of services offered to patrons.

Fear at First Sight: Library Anxiety, Race, and Nova Scotia

Article Authored By: K-Lee Fraser and Joan C. Bartlett, PhD

Reviewed by: Cherie Buenaflor, Kielayameosha Carswell, Larissa Edwards, Vanessa Lindquist, Katryna Pierce, and Jennifer Powell

Link to article:

Summary and Literature Review
This article studied racial differences in library anxiety and the coping methods of undergrads in Nova Scotia, Canada with research through surveys and interviews. The authors of the article describe a brief history of how African Nova Scotians (ANS) faced discrimination and barriers to education. Although things have improved with scholarships and grants created by the African Nova Scotian community, enrollment in higher education is still lower than for Caucasian Nova Scotians (CNS). The research used the Library Anxiety Scale (LAS) as a survey tool, which was later followed with demographic questions.

The literature review section goes into detail about environmental, dispositional, and situational antecedents, which all play a role in how the students react to the library. Fraser and Bartlett further mention that the advancement of technology has also complicated how students interact with the library and library staff. Based on interviews and surveys, the authors determined that ANS initially had lower library anxiety than CNS. ANS had a positive reaction at first, but over time, their library anxiety increased especially due to barriers when interacting with staff. Fraser and Bartlett discussed how important it is that more research be done around Library Anxiety as there is not much current information, and the size of their study only looked at a small number of students. This article calls attention to the positive effect that early exposure to libraries can have in future academic success.

Research Questions
Fraser and Bartlett’s research questions compared the experience of undergraduate ANS students with their Caucasian peers in academic libraries. Their first question “Is there a racial difference in library anxiety among Nova Scotians?” serves to provide a brief overview of the history of the ANS community. Historically, 48 African communities were formed on the margins of society in Nova Scotia, some fleeing American slavery, others as Jamaican and Berumudan refugees between the late 1700s and early 1800s. These people were also victims of institutional racism in Nova Scotia, some finding the same racial discrimination as in their countries of origin, including less access to benefits. Fraser and Bartlett (2018) provide evidence that ANS students seeking higher education are faced with multiple educational barriers, including segregated schools, lack of math and science curriculum in secondary schools, and poorly trained teachers (p.4).

Further research questions: “Which aspects of library anxiety affect the two racial groups?” and “How do students alleviate library anxiety?” are asked because this research seeks to find insight on how academic libraries can support ANS students dealing with library anxiety to increase their likelihood of academic success.

The study employed a mixed method approach to their research, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. The first phase was preliminary and included a survey of 48 Nova Scotian undergraduates and recent graduates. Eighteen students identified as ANS, 24 identified as CNS, and five students identified as “other” ethnicities (the students who identified as “other” were excluded from the final results). The survey utilized a “43-item, 5 point Likert scale survey” called the Library Anxiety Scale (LAS). The LAS studied dimensions of library anxiety. Students participated in the survey online, and, after completing the survey, were invited to participate in a follow up interview.

During the interview phase, eight students participated in interviews, with five students who identified as ANS and three students as CNS. An interview guide was created with guidance from research questions, the LAS, and questions addressed in previous studies, as well as findings from the survey. The interviews were conducted in person, on Skype, and on the telephone, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the Constant Comparative Method, applying both closed and open coding schemes.

Findings and Conclusions
The authors concluded that while their sample size was small, they observed low to mild academic library anxiety in both ANS and CNS university students. ANS reported initial lower anxiety than CNS when they visited the university library. Prior to attending the university, ANS students had positive interactions at their community or local library. For CNS students, prior experiences at their community library “… were filled with anxiety and avoidance” (Fraser and Bartlett, 2018, p. 10). These negative feelings continued for CNS students when they first visited the university library, and used words like “intimidating,” “overwhelmed,” and “difficult” to describe their experiences. (2018, p. 12).

Both ANS and CNS students expressed higher anxiety in terms of their experience with library staff. This included staff being “unapproachable” and “unfriendly” (Fraser and Bartlett, 2018, p. 12-13). ANS students also had anxiety about being stereotyped and treated differently due to their race/ethnicity. These negative feelings by both ANS and CNS students caused them “… to avoid library staff” (2018, p. 14). The authors concluded that “early exposure” to positive experiences at local and community libraries could play a role in students’ lower initial anxiety when at a university library (2018, p. 14). They also concluded that academic library staff must work to remove barriers with their interaction with students in order to create a more welcoming space.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations
The concept of “library anxiety” was first introduced to the field of library and information science by Constance Mellon in 1986 (Muszkiewicz, 2017). In a subsequent study by Bostick (1992), it was found that library anxiety was caused by several factors: “barriers with staff, affective barriers, comfort with the library, knowledge of the library, and mechanical barriers” (Muskiewicz, 2017, p. 224). These causes of library anxiety can be identified in the Nova Scotian students in this study, specifically staff barriers (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Fraser & Bartlett (2018) stated that students avoid interacting with library staff because they felt unsupported. Students reported feeling annoying to unfriendly, unapproachable library staff (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Students also reported that library staff’s lack of cultural knowledge is a stressor; they often avoided seeking advice (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Many ANS reported feeling more comfortable using online resources due to the anxiety and uncomfortable experiences with library staff. Wallis (2014) and Lichtenstein (1999) stated that “creating positive interactions between students and library staff helped ease fears and increased students’ academic research skills throughout their degrees” (as cited by Fraser & Bartlett, 2018).

Applying the findings from this Canadian study, libraries in America can work to alleviate the anxieties felt by African American and African Diaspora students in several ways. One way is to offer programs that will introduce students to the library staff. Muskiewicz (2017) highlighted a program at Valparaiso University in Indiana, in which librarians introduced themselves to new students by using humor and factual information about the librarians as a way to make themselves more accessible to students. Additionally, Fraser and Bartlett (2018) related a decrease in library anxiety for those students who reported previously positive experiences in using libraries. This presents an opportunity for partnership between academic, school, and public libraries to create positive library experiences for students in their community. These partnerships could aid in the development of stronger information seeking behaviors and increased confidence in engaging with library staff. Another way America libraries can alleviate anxiety is by designing programs that allow librarians and teens/students to work closely together, build relationships, and have healthy discussions regarding cultural differences. These programs will create an environment where students feel more comfortable utilizing library services, which will likely translate to students being comfortable using academic libraries. The creation of comprehensive LibGuides could also be beneficial, considering the fact that students were more likely to use online resources than interact with library staff. These LibGuides, geared to helping students navigate library services, could potentially be a project that students and librarians could collaborate on. A better understanding of the needs of the community could help librarians to provide culturally relevant services and collections.

By making themselves culturally knowledgeable, American librarians will be more approachable and better able to develop partnerships with the African American (AA) and African Diaspora (AD) students who use their library. This can help alleviate the library anxiety felt by these students. An increase in library staff’s cultural awareness will allow them to provide better services and create a more welcoming environment for AA/AD students in America’s academic libraries.


Bostick, S. L. (1992). The development and validation of the library anxiety scale. Dissertation Abstracts International, 53(2), A4116.

Fraser, K., & Bartlett, J. C. (2018). Fear at First Sight: Library Anxiety, Race, and Nova Scotia. Partnership, 13(2).

Muszkiewicz, R. (2017). Get to Know Your Librarian: How a Simple Orientation Program Helped Alleviate Library Anxiety. Public Services Quarterly, 13(4), 223-240.

Situational Information Behaviour Exploring the Complexity of Refugee Integration

Article Authored By: Olubukola Oduntan & Ian Ruthven

Reviewed by: Latinx Group: Nancy Analco, Essy Barroso-Ramirez, Christopher Lopez, Carlos Luna , and Miguel Murillo

Link to article:

Using Dervin’s sense-making theory, the authors explore the micro and macro challenges facing refugee integration within the framework of forced migration by analyzing findings from their research. This approach focuses on situations that abridge individual and contextual information needs, in order to identify systems host societies can implement in order to integrate refugees. Using situations as an approach can help interpret social complexity and capture intricate and complex details of social life by questioning events in terms of what happened first, second, and so on. Data was mainly gathered through a series of interviews using the sense-making situation-gap approach. Further, the information collected depicts the complexity of refugee integration as refugee’s experiences are not akin. Through their research, the authors were able to demonstrate that time and place are vital for situational investigation which focuses on a complex context such as forced migration.

Core Research Questions

What are the information challenges refugees encounter?

What are refugee information needs during refugee integration?

Do host societies successfully meet those information needs? If not, where are those information gaps/barriers? What causes them?

How does/Does the situation concept relate to information behavior in regard to individual and contextual needs within refugee integration?

In terms of approach to the research project, Oduntan & Ruthven’s employ Brenda Dervin’s situational sense-making methodology. As a theoretical concept “situation(al)” refers to a framework that considers how social factors of a particular context interact with each other and influence human behavior. In this case, the authors are concerned with the sense-making praxis of their research participants in order to appreciate how each participant’s past and future goals inform the way they navigate their situation.

Since their aim is to understand the information gaps and needs within the refugee integration dynamic, they require a framework that can appreciate the individual needs of each status of refugee and the universal challenges within or presented by host society institutions. In their words, “the situational approach to information behaviour enables dynamic interactions in context to be captured such that individual and contextual characteristics can be combined to determine information needs” (p., 7).

To collect this data, Oduntan & Ruthven utilize the qualitative research method of in-depth, semi structured interviews. They interviewed 20 individuals of different origins and stages of the refugee integration system. Of their population sample they interviewed 11 females, 9 males, including 2 participants under the age of 18 as well as individuals from families.

Findings and conclusions
The findings of the study indicate that in information behavior, information gaps are conditioned by micro and macro level situations. Individual situations and gaps of refugee seekers are embedded in an overarching macro level situation.

Ideal situations for refugees and asylum seekers as they have varying but unrestricted access to provisions to meet integration needs. Asylum seekers are provided with basic needs as they await decisions on their asylum applications. However, despite the ideal nature of the situation there were still individual and contextual information gaps such as misconceptions of specific provisions refugees were entitled to or inconsistencies in services provided due to lack of information.

Unideal situations refer to refused asylum seekers which are the category with restricted access to provisions to meet integration needs. Although basic needs can be provided they are heavily impacted by restrictions and limits. Information gaps at the macro and micro levels put asylum seekers at a disadvantage in terms of provisions and information.
Situational information behavior is the combined individual experiences and contextual conditions which in turn give us informational needs. In the case of forced migration, time and place are fundamental for situational investigation as this situational approach can provide better understanding of information needs.This means that a refugee can have their needs met and institutions can better design their responses to help refugees integrate.

Application in U.S. Context
Information is not only essential but a means of survival in many circumstances. The American Library Association (2006) has access to informational resources as one of its core values of librarianship. However, American libraries must stay vigilant and continuously review their policies, approaches, and technologies to ensure they can provide the services to keep up with developing technology, change the ways information gets generated and accessed, and provide services to meet the needs of diverse populations.

The study’s findings underscore the importance of creating practices that deliver information regardless of individual and contextual factors. Information will no longer create privilege; instead, it will create equal access to integration provisions to forcibly displaced people, refuge-seekers, and refugees. One key factor that American libraries can learn from the study is that access to information is not equal, so it is up to libraries and Library and Information Science professionals to bridge the gaps. Some of the methods that can help bridge the gaps are by frequently seeking ways to address the needs of the community, such as creating informational documents, videos, and webpages in different languages, working with an organization to help specific communities, creating programs services to help track the users and the services used.

Another point of connection is how American libraries play a role in the process of meeting the needs of refugee patrons, especially those in the thick of refugee integration. There is undoubtedly a strong emphasis on local living in our cities, some of it healthy and some of jingoistic. In this local-political introspection, libraries cannot forget that their patron consists of types of people, including those without the securities of citizenship or volitional immigration. Whether it is serving as a conduit of information about and access to important host society institutions or providing the training and information itself, libraries need to do the work of community mapping to make sure their efforts to take care of their city inhabitants truly takes care of all inhabitants.

Information needs and behaviour of parents of children with autism spectrum disorders: parents’ reports on their experiences and perceptions

Article Authored By: Ivana Martinović and Ivanka Stričević

Reviewed by: Camille Hyatt, Richard Schock, Kate Lasky, Sandra Nunez Currier, and Nicole Cooksey-Voytenko

Link to article:

Review of “Information Needs and Behaviour of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Parents’ Reports on their Experiences and Perceptions” by Ivana Martinović and Ivanka Stričević

Article Synopsis and International Perspective
In a recent fact sheet entitled Autism Spectrum Disorders published November 2019 by the World Health Organization, rates of autism (ASD) among children are estimated to be as high as one in 165, while further noting that when examined longitudinally, this number appears to be steadily increasing. While public awareness of neurodiversity-related issues has grown, this awareness may be, in part, ascribed to increased diagnoses; regardless, public awareness has not kept pace with the rate of increase in diagnoses (Martinović & Stričević, 2016). Thus, significant information gaps remain among parents of children with ASD, both in developed countries where there are more avenues for ASD care and opportunities and in countries such as Croatia where much work in this area remains to be done (Martinović & Stričević, 2016).
Researchers Ivana Martinović and Ivanka Stričević sought to examine this subject from the perspective of Croatian parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD. They jointly presented the results of their study at the ISIC information behavior conference in Zadar, Croatia, in September 2016. The authors note the rising incidence of ASD and a concurrent lack of information on the topic available to parents of such children. Martinović and Stričević, utilizing a convenience sampling technique, identified 13 participants with children with ASD who were willing to engage with the researchers, sharing their experiences and information needs. As Martinović and Stričević note, the lack of previously gathered data among the Croatian populace points to a definite need for further studies.

Core Research Questions
Because there is no prior data as to information-seeking behavior for parents of children with ASD in Croatia, Martinović and Stričević begin their study with basic research questions, trying to discern the parents’ information needs. Interestingly, though they are defining information-seeking behavior, their aim is to “provide medical specialists with recommendations… [for] providing information to parents within the sphere of medical and social care,” (Martinović & Stričević, 2016) intimating that the “where” of Martinović’s and Stričević’s question, “where [do] they perform their searches[?]” is likely not the library, which is a shift in perspective. In the United States, for example, information-seeking behavior is generally considered by librarians, less by medical professionals. How much do American medical specialists consider the information-seeking behavior of their patients and families, and are they receptive to recommendations from outside researchers?
The research questions asked by Martinović and Stričević were:
What kind of information needs do parents of children with ASD have?
How do parents of children with ASD seek information that they need?
How do parents assess information they found?
What barriers do they face when seeking information? (Martinović & Stričević, 2016)
In observing this list of questions, there are noted holes in the research area of services provided for children with ASD, which would make for a strong follow-up to this study, and building blocks for ASD infrastructure in Croatia.

Study Methods
The study utilized a semi-structured interview that was audiotaped and transcribed for analysis purposes. The subjects interviewed were 13 parents whose children were diagnosed with ASD and between the ages of 3 ½ – 20 years old. Study data included the gender of the parent, the child’s age, and how long the child has been diagnosed with ASD.
Study participants were reached by the Association of Families of Children with Autism ‘Dar’ in Osijek, Croatia. Each participant was given a code for identification to keep their identity confidential. All of the interviews (~20 minutes in length) were subject to qualitative content analysis and translated into English.

Findings and Conclusions
Martinović and Stričević found that parents of children with ASD were looking for general facts about autism. Typically, these parents had no prior knowledge of what autism is, or how to deal with it. Initially, they wanted to know what it is, how it can be treated, what therapies are best, and what lies ahead for their child (Martinović & Stričević, 2016). Parents wanted to find out if their child would be able to go to a regular school, become independent, and have a normal life. Parents found the majority of their information on their own using the internet, books, other printed materials, professionals, and other parents with similar experiences. Parents did not receive adequate information from doctors and had to find it independently, often becoming overwhelmed with an overload of confusing information. The most trusted information came from other parents as well as specialists. To determine if the information was sound, they tested it on their own child to see the results. The sheer amount of information written in medical terms often contrasted one with the other, and the lack of ASD expertise or experience were reported as barriers for parents when searching for information.

What American Libraries Can Learn
American libraries can benefit from the global practice of research about parents of children with ASD. Ivana Martinović and Ivanka Stričević of the Croatian community highlight inequities in access that can be tested and possibly reflected in American communities. Concrete data around the information-seeking behavior of this community helps librarians provide access to needed information through taught search methods and in-house awareness of ASD services and organizations.
“Many results of this research match the findings of other researches from foreign countries. One can conclude that parents of children with ASD have the same information needs, regardless of the part of the world they come from” (Martinović & Stričević, 2016). American libraries and librarians can take away critical findings from the article for immediate practice, such as the importance of curating local resources and raising awareness about ASD within their communities to prevent inequities in access to information when it is most critical for parents. American libraries can also drive and participate in local research — “Hospital, higher education institutions and public libraries should conduct regular studies of the health information needs and information seeking behaviour of parents of children with ASD in order to equip their users with relevant health information” (Martinović & Stričević, 2016).


Martinović, I. & Stričević, I. (2016). Information Needs and Behaviour of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Parents’ Reports on their Experiences and Perceptions. Proceedings of ISIC, the Information Behaviour Conference, Zadar, Croatia, 20-23 September, 2016: Part 1. Information Research, 21(4), paper isic1609. Retrieved from

World Health Organization, (2019, 7 November). Autism spectrum disorder.

A Multicultural Approach to Digital Information Literacy Skills Evaluation in an Israeli College

Article Authored By: Efrat Pieterse, Riki Greenberg, Zahava Santo

Reviewed by: Esther Park, Lisa Hoang, Ashley Marshall, Elizabeth Nordblad

Link to article:

Many first-year students find it hard to use information resources in the library to develop their information literacy skills. This study focused on the information literacy skills of native Hebrew-speaking students (HE students) and native Arabic-speaking students, who speak Hebrew as a second language (AR students). It was determined that HE students preferred digital resources while AR students preferred printed resources. AR students, who did not trust their Hebrew comprehension, preferred print materials because they could make notes directly on them. The AR students also tended to use more library resources, including the help of a librarian, and ready-made assignments while the HE students did not. This study supports AR students’ need for more media in dimensions of information literacy compared to HE students, in previous research. This article represents an international perspective because we are looking at how bilingual students compile and use their resources. We see how one’s upbringing and learning environment contributes to preferences for resources. This article provides insight into information literacy and how students’ engagement with information is impacted by their primary or secondary language.

Core Research Questions
Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo (2018) were interested in learning if the information literacy skills of first-year Israeli college students differed depending on the students’ cultural diversity. In other studies, cultural diversity has proven to impact how people interact with information (Chai, 2008; Eshet-Alkalai & Geri, 2007; Walsh, Durrant, & Simpson, 2015; Yoo & Huang, 2011; as cited in Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018). The study included Israeli students, whose primary language was Hebrew, and Israeli Arabs, whose primary language was Arabic. The two student groups studied in this article attended elementary and secondary schools separately and received instruction in their primary language. The researchers specifically wanted to know how these first-year linguistically diverse college students perceived their information literacy skills and the differences in perception of said skills between the two language groups. Additionally, researchers wanted to know what barriers hindered the development of information literacy. The purpose statement of the study and research questions, taken from the article are listed below:

The purpose of the research is to examine the students’ self-perception regarding their
information literacy skills and to identify environmental barriers that cause a digital gap.

The research questions are:
1. How do first-year students perceive and evaluate their information literacy skills?
a) How do they assess their skills in using information technology?
b) How do they perceive their abilities in the academic information search
c) Do students critically check the information sources they retrieve for
their academic use?
d) Are students aware of ethical and social perspectives of information
2. Is there a digital gap among students from the different native language groups (Hebrew and Arabic) in the first year? (Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018, p. 111-112).

A questionnaire was administered to 125 first-year students during the initial class meeting in an online course on information and databases that provided basic instruction on information literacy skills. The questionnaire was in the college’s main written and spoken language of Hebrew and consisted of three parts: (1) demographic questions (age, gender, language); (2) digital accessibility questions (access to computers and internet at home as well as the level of comfortability); and (3) information literacy dimensions (with a rating of 1 to 5 on various statements). The questionnaire used the content validation approach and a factor analysis test. The purpose of the method of survey was to determine any correlation between demographics, access, and level of proficiency in finding and using information.

Findings and Conclusions
Ninety-five out of a hundred and twenty-five surveys were analyzed. Among the survey participants, 73% were native Arabic speakers (AR students) while 27% were native Hebrew speakers (HE students). The findings in this study resemble other studies in the literature. Both groups declared confidence in their proficiency in using digital information tools and most thought they were above average when performing internet searches. Other studies claim that this mindset is typical of digital natives, a term coined by Marc Prensky, which generalized individuals who were born into a digital culture with the innate ability to think and talk in digital. However, in 2015, Walsh, Durrant, and Simpson’s study found that new technologies are not as accessible to multicultural students from minority groups, despite being digital natives. This was confirmed with the HE students reporting higher proficiency in their ability to solve computer problems than their AR student counterparts. This study also reported that AR students preferred print materials to digital, while HE students preferred digital resources. However, with academic assignments, both groups preferred print materials.
In comparison to HE students, this study found that AR students tend to use the library discovery tools, thus reinforcing past research of the study of information behaviors of Israeli students. In this study, when students were asked about their ethical and social perspectives of information use, the study reported that both groups received assistance from friends and used Wikipedia as an academic resource. There was a significant difference between AR and HE students regarding submitting copied work. Several AR students reported using ready-made assignments, while HE students did not. This finding might be due to a different cultural background with varied awareness of academic culture and conventions or that AR students did not understand the survey question correctly. Despite study limitations, this study examines the various aspects of the information literacy of Israeli students at the beginning of their studies.

What can American libraries learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations?
From this article, American libraries can learn how to provide more services for ethnically and linguistically diverse students. Students have different levels of awareness of the resources available to them, as well as how to access them. Librarians can promote awareness and access to additional free resources that students may not be aware of. They can also dedicate time to teach students about library resources and how to use them properly through a mandatory orientation. For example, academic libraries can work with the university to set up a mandatory one unit course to teach students how to access the resources and services available in their library. Collaborating with educators, librarians can assist with curriculum development focused on academic research skills for students. Libraries can also provide resources in different languages and hire bilingual staff who can assist with the diverse range of student inquiries. Additionally, librarians with the assistance of bilingual staff can create videos teaching information literacy skills in a variety of languages. These videos can be provided within the library as well as posted on the library website for 24/7 accessibility. Signage in the library and on the library website should also be multilingual.


Pieterse, E., Greenburg, R., & Santo, Z. (2018). A multicultural approach to digital information literacy skills evaluation in an Israeli college. Communications in Information Literacy, 12(2), 107–127. doi:

Accessibility of Library Facilities by Wheelchair Users: The Case of Libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria

Article Authored By: Christopher Nkiko, Jerome Idiegbeyan-Ose, Promise Ilo, Ifeakachuku Osinulu, & Goodluck Ifijeh

Reviewed by: Leslie Archuletta, Stephanie Murakami, Jessica Roesch, Meghan Soucier, and Kacy Wilson

Link to article:

Article Synopsis

Accessibility is an important commitment that libraries must make in order to ensure diverse and differently-abled users who can benefit from full utilization of library resources. This study examines libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria in order to understand inaccessibility of wheelchair library users. The researchers made personal observations of library buildings which were photographed. The findings of this study indicated that wheelchair users’ needs were not being met. There were no ramps and users often needed to be carried up steps. The desks and shelves were too high and the bathrooms did not have toilets which were wheelchair friendly. Recommendations were then made in order to address the severe lack of thought when designing for differently-abled patrons.

International Perspective

This article represents an international perspective from the standpoint of investigating wheelchair users’ needs at libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. In addition to Nigeria, the study speaks to libraries in the United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore. The article explains that libraries in developed countries such as the ones listed above have made strides in order to ensure all patrons have access by building ramps and ensuring that circulation desks are able to accommodate wheelchair users. However, the one question which is not answered is: How can international libraries and associations in developed countries help less developed countries? While Nigeria is currently not meeting access needs for differently-abled patrons, perhaps with more developed countries paving the way and greater access to resources, more consideration will be taken when designing their libraries. The article’s recommendations to redesign, enact laws, and for the differently-abled to form groups places responsibility amid a variety of people. Ultimately having equal access to information is a right of all individuals and is important to make sure the differently-abled are included.

Research Questions
1. Is the library building accessible to wheelchair users?
2. Are the heights of the circulation desks accessible to them?
3. What challenges do wheelchair users face when accessing the library catalogues?
4. What challenges do they face when using the library shelves?
5. What problems do wheelchair users face when using the restrooms in the library?


The assessment was made using qualitative methods. Visits were made to 42 institutions/ facilities in both the public and private sectors. These observational visits took place over a six-month period from February to August 2017. No more than three hours maximum were spent at the institutions/facilities. Observations were recorded on a Surface Pro laptop equipped with Job Access with Speech software. In addition, data sources such as Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) were used. This research was presented through colonial and post-colonial frameworks.

Findings and Conclusions

Accessibility for differently-abled patrons within Nigerian libraries is very limited. Studies found that most library buildings are not wheelchair accessible and are poorly designed for patrons with disabilities. All of the universities located in Nigeria were found to have non-functioning lifts or ramps for their disabled students to use. Universities that had more than one floor were inaccessible for wheelchair bound patrons as well as the visually impaired. This limited the amount of information that could be accessed by their differently-abled patrons. While designing the libraries and universities, there wasn’t any consideration that included patrons with disabilities.
The studies that were done by Nkiko et al. (2020) proved how inconvenient it was for patrons in wheelchairs to navigate through the rows of the libraries. Several of the buildings contained numerous flights of stairs and/or spiral staircases that were inaccessible for wheelchair users. Among the poorly designed buildings, many of the library’s circulation desks were too high for wheelchair-bound patrons to reach. Not only was the height of circulation desks too high, but the card catalogs and the bookshelves were inaccessible as well. This forced wheelchair users to ask for help if they needed an item located on the top shelf. In addition, Nkiko et al. (2020) found that there weren’t any toilets in the bathrooms designed for wheelchair users. The toilets were not designed for people with disabilities that may struggle in using a standard toilet.
After the libraries and universities were built, Nkiko et al. (2020) discovered that several countries are faced with financial hardships. This may make it harder for countries to update and upgrade their libraries to accommodate wheelchair users. People in wheelchairs should be able to move comfortably and freely within the library and reach all parts of the library. Patrons in wheelchairs should be able to gain access to information without having to struggle through the library to get it. If Nigeria chooses to build new libraries in the future, they need to ensure that wheelchair-bound patrons are included in planning and implementing the design.
Nigeria needs to start by updating the libraries they have first by providing ramps at the entrances, moving materials that are unreachable, creating a circulation desk that can be used by all, and adding toilets that can be used by patrons with disabilities. Accessibility to information should be accessed by all individuals, creating spaces that are inclusive for everyone will increase the value of the library. In the end, the government should pass laws to help their underfunded libraries enhance their facilities to accommodate not only the wheelchair-bound patrons but the differently-abled patrons as well. Punishment should be doled out to organizations that break these laws. On the other hand, the differently-abled community should form pressure groups to influence their government in providing access to libraries for everyone.

What American Libraries Can Learn

In the United States, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Universal Access, 2020) address many of the challenges experienced by wheelchair library-users. Although the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) focuses on libraries in Nigeria, it teaches us that all libraries, even when facing financial difficulties, should at least have the following available for wheelchair library users:
• automatic entry-doors
• ground floors equipped with all the facilities and resources available to other library users
• special shelves constructed to house information materials for wheelchair users
• adjustable toilets
• catalogue cabinets that can be consulted while seated
• accessible circulation desks

On a grander scale, the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) stresses to American libraries that inequitable access of differently-abled users is an international issue. No solutions are offered in the work of Nkiko et al. (2020), but common practices put forward by the American Library Association include participating in international relationship roundtables, involving oneself in causes like the Endowment Campaign, and establishing a sister library (IRRT, 2020). In conclusion, greater collaboration is needed between countries so that everyone can utilize the many tools and resources available at the library.


International Relations Round Table (IRRT). (2020). American Library Association. Retrieved from

Nkiko, C., Idiegbeyan-Ose, J., Ilo, P., Osinulu, I., & Ifijeh, G. (2020). Accessibility of library facilities by wheelchair users: The case of libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 4189. Retrieved from

Universal access: making library resources accessible to people with disabilities. (2020). Retrieved October, from