Reviewed By: Gregory Witmer, Kelli Rose, Kristen Bunner, Nanette Reyes Cruz

Link to article:

The article, Meeting Campus Linguistic Diversity: A Multilingual Library Orientation Approach, is a case study examining the planning, implementation, evaluation, and assessment of a multilingual library orientation program for enrolled students at McGill University, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The article provides an overview of the demographic makeup of the student population, identifies the goals of the orientation initiative and reviews supporting literature. A description of the researchers’ approach, including their instructional design, marketing strategies, evaluation and assessment, and a discussion of the challenges and lessons learned are also offered. The article contributes to the body of knowledge in library science, specifically providing an international perspective for the development of library services for multilingual patrons (Zhao, Torabi, & Smith, 2016, pp. 1-3).

According to university enrollment reports for the Fall semester of 2016, international students at McGill account for over 25% of the total student population, while more than half of all students are considered to have a native language other than English (as cited in Zhao et al., 2016). This article’s literature review focuses on the information-seeking behaviors and information needs of international students; additionally, it serves to highlight the challenges that non-native English-speaking students face when navigating an institution’s library and education system, particularly when seeking and using information.

In a previous study by Zhuo, Emanuel, and Jiao (2007), researchers reported the lack of knowledge and experience in using a library, along with difficulties in understanding English worded jargon and search terminology, will often generate a preference among international students for information services and resources to be offered in their native languages (as cited in Zhao et al., 2016). Ishimura and Bartlett (2013) noted not understanding academic expectations influenced the quality of information literacy and, consequently, the international students’ work; similarly, Greenberg and Bar-Ilan (2014) reported the following observations among non-native speaking groups: less utilization of search engines, databases, reference resources, and a diminished number of sources cited within their work (as cited in Zhao et al., 2016). As a result, all the research studies recommended tailoring information literacy and library instruction to meet the needs of the multilingual student population, including offering services and information to different native language groups in their own language. In doing so, a culture of inclusivity and the enhancement of library student relations can both be fostered (pp. 3-4).

Librarians at the McGill Library identified a knowledge gap of library services and resources for non-native English-speaking students, which are shown from past studies to stem from barriers caused by lack of English proficiency, lack of previous library experiences, and cultural differences (as cited in Zhao et al., 2016, p. 3). This information stimulated the following research questions:

1. Can multilingual library orientation sessions help better meet the library and information needs of McGill Library’s linguistically diverse student population?
2. Would a multilingual orientation improve non-native English-speaking students’ knowledge of library services and resources?

Building on McGill Library’s thematic vision––Access, Collection, Space, and People––the library began to develop an approach for the orientation initiative. After identifying the most common languages spoken (French, Mandarin Chinese, Persian, English, and Spanish), liaison librarians were recruited who expressed an interest in the project and spoke the languages identified; next, the team moved on to creating an official title, developing the curriculum, implementation, and assessment plans; and lastly, organizing logistics and promotional strategies. The team incorporated a blend of technological and traditional promotional techniques including social media, their library website, newsletters, pamphlets, posters, and outreach. Across each multilingual orientation session, instruction focused on the following five learning objectives:

1. Navigate and find library services using the library’s website.
2. Locate different library branches and learn how to use the library as a space.
3. Become familiar with the digital and physical collections.
4. Access e-resources off campus.
5. Find and contact subject specialist librarians at the McGill Library.

During each session, library related vocabulary was provided in English to help students build a working knowledge of terminology. Formative and summative assessments were incorporated into the instructional design with teaching activities and an end-of-session assessment questionnaire that provided useful feedback to inform current and subsequent instruction (pp. 5-8).

The sessions boasted a 63% attendance rate with orientations in Mandarin Chinese having the highest attendance. This may be attributed to early semester scheduling (the Mandarin Chinese orientation was offered earliest in the semester), leading the authors to speculate that students are more willing to attend orientation sessions at the beginning of the semester while their schedules are less busy. Also, there were more Chinese speaking students because they make up the third largest population after English and French speaking students (pp. 8-10).

The summative questionnaire identified an increase in students’ library knowledge along with positive feedback, leading the liaison librarians to conclude that the initiative achieved its overall goals of proactively meeting the information needs of McGill’s linguistically diverse population, and improving non-native English-speaking students’ knowledge of library services and resources. The summative questionnaire also provided insight on students’ desires for additional multilingual instruction, LibGuides, workshops, video tutorials, webpages and other online material. The orientation sessions did not have consistent attendance in all languages and the authors recommended further research on understanding both the library use and information-seeking behaviors of French-speaking and non French- or English-speaking students alike (pp. 10-11).

Due to a low response rate regarding the library’s assessment questionnaire––in terms of students from sessions other than the Chinese orientations––researchers did not have the available data to draw conclusions regarding the surprisingly low attendance among French-speaking students (2016, p. 10). Some of the unanswered questions are:

1. What other ideas do the researchers have for engaging the other non-native English speaking groups to encourage attendance of these orientation sessions?
2. What else can be done to ensure completion of the end of session questionnaire? What types of incentives could have been offered?
3. Why were follow-up interviews not considered as a means for obtaining further qualitative data?
4. Did this research inspire librarians to develop other targeted initiatives? (e.g., Multilingual web pages, LibGuides, or online tutorials?)

Librarians at the McGill Library have noted a growing community of non- or limited-English users, which also correlates to the increasing trend for diversity within higher education settings, “due to increasing mobility among youth and an ever-globalizing world economy” (Zhao et at., 2016, p. 1). It’s important for information professionals to be aware of the challenges these individuals commonly encounter during their information-seeking activities, and to cater instructional materials to better-provide services to these diverse groups. Librarians should strive to accommodate all members within their community; however, providing information literacy in a student’s native language can be a challenging task given the lack of languages spoken by library staff. The authors of this article encouraged resourcefulness and creativity in providing learning opportunities and multilingual services to the non-native English-speaking student. Furthermore, they recommended the collaboration and training of international students as liaisons who can contribute to existing library services and provide input in the development of supplemental programs (p. 11-12).

Our own recommendations for future investigations relating to linguistically-diverse community groups align with Beaulieu’s (2013) statement that continued attention to the relationship with the surrounding multilingual communities is essential for the successful development of library services (p.19). Cultivating a strong shared relationship with these groups not only allows for honest feedback and continued participation, but prevents library efforts from stagnating or developing in ways that are contrary to the needs and wants of students––or other user types. In terms of addressing the overall low response rate of this study’s assessment questionnaire, we suggest for librarians to offer incentives that may increase users’ participation and willingness to provide feedback. Additionally, for similar types of future studies, reaching out to those who attended the orientation sessions––or establishing focus groups––can provide librarians with further qualitative data on students’ perceptions and attitudes towards multilingual library initiatives. Librarians at McGill can also create multilingual, self-directed online materials that highlight resources and services that the library offers; the development of these online tutorials would allow additional students to access the orientation material at their own pace. Providing these types of resources would likely result in more students participating, which accomplishes the initiative’s goal to proactively meet the library and information of their linguistically diverse student population (Zhao et al., 2016, p. 2).

Beaulieu, T. (2013). No surprise, community engagement works. In B. Smallwood & K. Becnel (Eds.), Library services for multicultural patrons (p. 13-20). Scarecrow Press.

Zhao, J. C., Torabi, N., & Smith, S. (2016). Meeting Campus Linguistic Diversity: A Multilingual Library Orientation Approach. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 1.

The quest for diversity in library staffing: From awareness to action

Reviewed By: Kelley Presley, Erika Contreras, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

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Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Through a review of relevant literature along with inspecting survey results, the author is able to mine for information on diversity in the LIS profession. Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

The article addresses many questions one may have regarding the lack of diversity in the LIS profession. However, as always, there are still questions yet to be answered. With recent political changes in the United States, there is a question of whether or not diversity in the LIS profession can be achieved. Immigration has become a hot topic, and may severely impact the LIS profession in the United States. In addition, proposed budget cuts to federal library funding could possibly affect any library’s ability to recruit, or hire, any staff, much less a diverse one.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

Accessibility and Inclusion Issues in Library Acquisitions: A Guideline to Evaluating and Marketing the Accessibility of Library E-Resources

Reviewed By: Jeana Clampitt, Javier Morales, Jennifer Nguyen

Link to article:

In this article, Kerry Falloon (2016) examines how academic libraries can ensure that their digital collections comply with federal regulations while meeting the needs of all users. She suggests a specific workflow that includes evaluation and marketing of digital materials. Falloon begins the article with a review of applicable regulations, including legal cases that have arisen when universities have failed to comply. Falloon then points to several existing guides which aim to assist librarians with making purchasing decisions. She discusses existing technologies, including specific products, and the benefit for all users of providing adaptable materials and technology. Then she presents a workflow model and discusses how it has been implemented at the City University of New York (CUNY), and specifically the College of Staten Island (CSI) Library. Finally, she discusses marketing, including the importance of signage and the use of LibGuides as a method of promotion.

Falloon states, “The purpose of this study is to educate acquisition librarians attempting to integrate best practices in evaluating the accessibility of acquired products and services into current workflows” (p. 2). In addition, the study aims to “provide a workflow model on how to ensure that a digital resource is evaluated and marketed for accessibility compliance” (p. 14).

These goals can be reframed as the following research questions:
RQ1: How can acquisitions librarians ensure that digital collections comply with accessibility regulations and are practical for all users?
RQ2: What are best practices for evaluating and marketing digital materials?
RQ3: What workflow model do librarians at the CSI Library use to ensure these goals are met?

Falloon evaluates electronic resources in regards to the implementation of new workflows. She states that “traditional workflows need to be broken down and redesigned into new workflows, with patron services as its goal” (p. 6). According to Falloon, doing so will allow libraries to be better able to keep the accessibility and universal design needs of patrons with disabilities at the forefront in all electronic resource decision-making processes.

To help with the facilitation of these new workflows, the CUNY-CSI Library used the Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS) as a model to help in the evaluation of product and service accessibility. If properly adopted by library staff, TERMS would help create new workflows that would better allow them to evaluate whether electronic resources are “accessible, adaptable, supportive, and can be used by patrons of all abilities.” (p. 6).

In the course of this wider study of the accessibility needs of patrons, the CUNY-CSI Library has made a concerted effort to prioritize new policies and procedures. Several resources are highlighted, including the ALA’s “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution” policy and the ASCLA’s “Think Accessible Before You Buy” toolkit. These guides along with other resources can help librarians create more accessible content. They can then apply those skills to better evaluate the accessibility of other resources. The author also makes a point to note that accessibility isn’t limited to online resources. For example, library acquisitions staff often also handle the purchasing of hardware and software. This can include specialized equipment, such as screens that magnify text, large-print keyboards, or assistive programs that enable patrons to interact with electronic resources.

Falloon makes several recommendations, such as Zoom Text, a screen reader that serves several purposes. It can enlarge or enhance text and images on the screen, or even read aloud. Other recommendations include Kurzweil 3000, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and even built-in accessibility features found in Microsoft Office Suites. She argues that though several of these options would certainly require a significant investment on the part of the library, it would ultimately be worthwhile, if it better allows the library to assist a wider array of patrons.

Falloon finds that though about 75% of resources acquired by the CUNY-CSI Library are electronic, they are not necessarily accessible. Acquisition and electronic resource librarians are not always mindful that new materials must adhere to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, or the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). “Acquisition and electronic resource librarians need to acquire knowledge of disability law compliance as it relates to product evaluations, purchasing decisions, marketing, and reviews” (p. 14). The article was written to enlighten said librarians of these issues and provide inclusive and accessible TERM steps, signage, and many electronic programs to check whether materials are accessible to those with disabilities.

Falloon provides an excellent overview of the current situation regarding accessibility of digital collections as well as suggestions for implementing a workflow that emphasizes evaluation and marketing of such materials. Suggestions for future studies include how other academic libraries are approaching the topic, as well as advancements in other types of tech tools.

There have been several advances in technology since this article was published, including the rising popularity of intelligent virtual assistants. These have the potential to increase accessibility for users with disabilities. One further question is whether they are being designed to meet accessibility regulations. Companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have incorporated accessibility settings into these products. They are similar to the settings Falloon discusses for the Windows desktop environment. Other new technologies that are starting to see adoption in libraries are virtual reality (e.g. Google Expeditions) and augmented reality (e.g. librARi). While Falloon focuses on resources for users, there have also been advancements in library management software and repositories (e.g. LIBERO, Alexandria, and ePrints). It remains to be seen which of these different types of technologies will become mainstream and how libraries will work to make them accessible to users and staff.

As technology continues to evolve, accessibility regulations will likely need to be revised to include new formats. Falloon writes that librarians need to be aware of these changes, but does not discuss how to best keep staff aware of updates. One solution would be to assign one or more staff members to track these changes. This could be done by periodically reviewing the ADA website (, subscribing to email updates from the United States Department of Justice (, or following the DoJ (@TheJusticeDept) and organizations such as the Southeast ADA Center (@adasoutheast) on social media.

Falloon, K. A. (2016). Accessibility and inclusion issues in library acquisitions: A guideline to evaluating and marketing the accessibility of library e-resources. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, 1, 1-16. Retrieved from