Moving in the Circle: Indigenous Solidarity for Canadian Libraries

Reviewed By: Lucia Flores & Destiny Rivera

Link to article:

Article synopsis and description of how this article represents an international perspective:

This articles centers on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and how libraries can and must respond to this call. This articles advocates that library staff become informed on the role that libraries have played in the marginalization of Indigenous communities throughout time. The authors feel and express that it is through “solidarity and relationship building” that the process of reconciliation can begin. This article is international in that it is set in the context of Canadian libraries and focus on First Nations of Canada, specifically on Metis and Inuit communities. We can surely apply these thoughts to a U.S. context, as well. This article informs us that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was lead by indigenous activists and communities. This article also offers us insights into a few key ingredients for reconciliation, such as : education, relationship building, allyship, and solidarity. When we begin to look at libraries as colonial structures, as establishments that are more often than not on occupied land, we begin to see libraries in a new light. We often glorify libraries for being the center of a democratic institution, but do not often consider that libraries themselves are extensions of the colonization and marginalization of indigenous people. Many cultural institutions are. This article highlights how libraries are a “settler colonial institution” and describes settler colonialism as “ the process in which the exogenous settlers displace Indigenous peoples for access to their lands and resources. Settler colonialism is a structure with ongoing effects rather than a single or past series of events” (pp. 2). The topic of treaty rights are also presented and we are reminded that often libraries are located on lands of broken treaties and promises. Library staff can become more aware of colonial-indigenous relationships by learning about the treaty rights in one’s own location. Perhaps the next step in the process of decolonization is to be advocates and uphold treaties to our respective administrations.
We must look at how programs serve indigenous communities and how our collections represent indigenous knowledge and stories. The article provides hope that reconciliation is possible and that Library staff can play a part in this healing. Library staff must be aware of Indigenous issues, subscribe to indigenous publications, be safe spaces for indigenous communities through recognition and acknowledgement, and provide indigenized and decolonized library services. We must look at our own intersectionalities and positionalities such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ways of being and expressing. We must also consider how our own identities interact with the identities of the people in the communities we serve. While this level of reflection, self-scrutiny, and self-inquiry is challenging, it is the fertile grounds which can lead to a truer form of empathy, allyship, and solidarity. Concepts of allyship and solidarity are further discussed in the article.

Core research question(s):

The core research questions we felt this article tackled were:
How can libraries support indigenous communities and reconcile their colonial history?

How is institutionalized racism and Eurocentric intellectual control perpetuated in our collection?

In order for the colonialism processes to continue, people must simply do nothing. By doing nothing, colonization takes greater roots. To create a disturbance in this pattern through acknowledgment, recognition, and dissonance, we are able to interpret colonial patterns and imprint a new way of being and doing. This article provides strategies to begin reconciliation and healing.

Methods used to answer the research question(s):

Various methods are encouraged that address the de-colonizing of library spaces, as well as ways to proceed utilizing respect and cultural protocols. As we begin to look at colonial history and see cultural institutions as establishments of settler colonists, we begin to consider what we must do to reverse these processes. “Library staff should consult with and listen to their Indigenous communities and work to educate their non- Indigenous colleagues and patrons…Libraries should reach out through direct consultation with Elders and community leadership” (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.5). Thus creating places these discourses and conversation might be one way libraries can facilitate reconciliation.

We must also create resources for non-Indigenous library staff as it is with non-indigenous people that possess power dynamics that need to shift. Also, incorporating indigenous histories into the collection and celebrating indigenous cultures is important. Yet, we must make sure to not exclusively retell stories of heartbreak and tragedy. We all too often are habitualized to refer to indigenous cultures as cultures of the past- ancient. This does a complete disservice to indigenous youth and indigenous communities who are living modern lives in this modern world. Stories of today shape stories of tomorrow. We must preserve and perpetuate indigenous realities by representing authentic indigenous voices. One method for doing this was by supporting “small community publishers” and indigenous authors. This ensures a broad ranges of voices and experiences be heard and has the potential to remove financial barriers and obstacles of publication.
The last method involved in the reconciliation process, as well as how libraries can support communities, is referred to in the article as a “Medicine Wheel methodology”. This method is considered an indigenous research method and was utilized by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. This method was utilized as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Council. As stated, “the corresponding focuses of the Report were Research and Best Practices (Black), Relationships (Yellow), Analysis (White), and Decolonize (Red). (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.4). Utilizing indigenous research methods ensures that the process of reconciliation is in a culturally-relevant, integral process that places indigenous knowledge and voices at the center.

Findings and conclusions:

Given their colonial past, it is the duty of libraries to reconcile with indigenous communities by establishing a relationship with tribes, and directly consulting them to ensure their needs are met. It is the duty of the library to educate the public on reconciliation via collections, audio-visual materials, programming and services, or oral history dissemination (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.5). Many Canadian libraries were built on appropriated indigenous lands, and they likely contain problematic and racist materials not approved by the communities about whom they are written (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.3). To not confront these issues would be to expand and continue a pattern of settler colonialism.

As a result, libraries should give indigenous people the space to express their needs and respect their agency over their own matters and heritage. In addition, libraries should ensure that their collections include authentic indigenous voices with indigenous experiences written by indigenous authors (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.4).

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations:

Blair and Wong’s article has demonstrated how libraries can effectively stand in solidarity and build relationships with indigenous communities to reconcile their colonial past. According to one of the principles in the United Nations’ report on the Protection of the Heritage of Indigenous People, “3. Indigenous peoples should be recognized as the primary guardians and interpreters of their cultures, arts and sciences, whether created in the past, or developed by them in the future” (UN, 1995, pp.8). When designing services for diverse populations, Blair and Wong urge libraries to directly consult with community leadership to determine the best method to move forward; to not do so would be an act of oppression by continuing the very pattern of colonialism that they are trying to prevent (Blair & Wong, 2018, pp.3). Simply put, “using needs assessment helps a library design and deliver services to multicultural populations that are authentic, intentional, and high quality” (Smallwood & Becnel, 2013, pp.5). While this article has emphasized the importance of conducting needs assessments with indigenous communities in Canada, this practice can be extended to any diverse population; American libraries can effectively serve their own indigenous populations and other diverse communities by doing the same.


Blair, J., & Wong, D. (2018). Moving in the Circle: Indigenous Solidarity for Canadian Libraries. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 12(2).

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples: Protection of the heritage of indigenous people. Final report of the Special Rapporteur, Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes. Geneva, Switzerland, June 21, 1995. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/26

Smallwood, C., & Becnel, K. (2013). Library services for multicultural patrons: Strategies to encourage library use. Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Roundtable: What is holding librarianship back from being more inclusive of visible minorities?

Reviewed By: Naomi Paven, Mary Jo O’Connor, & Mario Torres

Link to article:

Soliciting input from three librarians and one MLIS candidate, “Roundtable: What is holding librarianship back from being more inclusive of visible minorities?” initiates a long-overdue conversation about the lack of visible minority representation within the field in Canada. As addressed in this article, the important discrepancy between Canadian demographics and the makeup of librarianship in Canada cannot be pinned on a single factor or event. Hiring and promotional structures within library systems, recruitment initiatives by information schools, and collection development are listed as areas where potential bias and barriers exist. Beyond the stacks, however, there is an emphasis for the consideration of race, racism, and white supremacy in Canadian society. Librarians, library systems, and information schools must examine their contributions to unfair and unequal practices with a critical eye, and question to what extent their workplaces are a reflection and perpetuation of a biased society.
Although geographically close and sharing powerful economic and political ties, Canada is not a sparsely populated carbon copy of its southern neighbour. With one tenth the population of the United States and governed by a parliamentary system, this officially bilingual nation struggles to define its cultural identity. However, like the US, Canada has also experienced a recent spike in social tension—initiatives to address the wrongs of colonialism, a surge in race-based violence, and a heated federal election scheduled for October 2019 elicit opinions from pundits to laypersons. This article scratches the surface of where diversity and inclusion, Canadian society, and Canadian librarianship intersect.
The article seeks to address the disparity between the great variety of ethnicities in the Canadian population and their lack of representation in librarianship. Bell, Chan, Liu, & Ramos are tasked with answering “What is holding librarianship back from being more inclusive of visible minorities?”. This is a particularly important question in Canada since the 2016 Canadian Census reported that over 250 different ethnicities and ancestries can be found in the Canadian population, with 40% of census respondents identifying more than one ethnic ancestry. The majority of Canadians identify as European descendants, with Chinese, East Indian, and Filipino being among the most common non-European ancestries.
The province with the greatest number of librarians identifying as a visible minority is British Columbia at 15%. Ontario, the country’s most populated province comes in third with only 9%, and all three Territories, as well as the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, recorded no librarians who are visible minorities. These discrepancies could be due to hiring practices within institutions, or also through inherently racist or biased recruitment of MLIS candidates, or several issues within the profession and society. It is also possible that the current library demographics reflect the cultural, economic, and political dominance of white people in culture in Canada and, more broadly, North America. This article raises potential obstacles to the effective recruitment of visible minorities into the library profession and addresses how Canadian Librarianship can overcome these challenges.
While the article does not adhere strictly to the standards of a research paper, it does use a format backed by academic precedent. In this instance, a written roundtable where multiple individuals in the profession respond to the same question. Tamara Noor, the compiler of the responses that form the article, does not necessarily state that these responses are meant to be representative or authoritative regarding diversity in librarianship. Rather, the responses are presented merely as four opinions from those who have had, by virtue of working in or towards a career in the LIS professions, opportunities to confront this question. This is appropriate as this article appeared in the “Features” section of an otherwise research focused journal.
In a sense, this method attempts to likely capture the voice of their reading and target audience, Canadian, and more broadly North American, library and information researchers, professionals, and students. Despite not outlining a specific methodology for this article, there was clearly editorial thought put into the selection of opinions as they are well chosen by representing a diverse range of positions within information professions. Respectively, an associate librarian, a collections librarian, a systems administrator/manager and an MLIS candidate were consulted. While the subjective nature of the question would make it difficult to address through quantitative analysis, this short article provides an interesting look into some of the likely more common opinions regarding this topic.
Given the nature of the article, the findings are likewise diverse. Norda Bell, an associate librarian, points to larger systemic issues with western cultural itself, claiming that these underlying forms of bias and cultural hegemony perpetuate inequality and lack of diversity in the profession itself. In short, that problems of diversity and retention of diversity in MLIS field will not be solved by internal solutions alone, but by addressing “racism, exclusion, and structural barriers”. While Bell writes with strong sentiment and valid arguments, she doesn’t offer many ideas or methods for broaching this intensely sensitive question, or what happens thereafter, how these ideas are merged into MLIS practice effectively and efficiently.
Mary P. Chan, a collections librarian, gives a similar opinion, but grounds it in facts and possible solutions—she notes that librarians need to worry less about whether there is a lack of diversity in the profession as research, data, and experience will prove to most individuals, the problem is there. Chan claims that action is more important at this stage and offers a list of ideas for possible solutions. She addresses the issue from an institutional standpoint and highlights three core areas of the profession which can create change: administrators and managerial level librarians, professional associations, and MLIS schools/programs.
Of all the respondents, Guoying Liu, Head of a Systems Department, presents her argument most like a research paper. Liu first addresses the demographics in Canada and points out need for improvements in CAPAL data. She then systematically discusses several issues relating to diversity in Canadian librarianship. In Liu’s estimation, the most salient issues affecting the roundtable question are: the issue of proper environment to encourage diverse libraries, and the perceptions of librarians on this topic; lack of diversity recruitment and retention; and deficit of visible minority voices in the MLIS field. Finally, Astrid Ramos is a MLIS candidate and thus has the least first-hand experience on the topic, but also has studied it in her program. She focuses on the idea of recruiting students at all academic levels to increase interest and knowledge of opportunities for people of diverse background to join and strengthen profession.
While well intentioned, diversity initiatives have often proved to be unsuccessful, and are frequently met with opposition in both Canadian and American institutions. The argument is that that the most qualified person, regardless of circumstance, will be hired. This perspective is a result of the unconscious bias that fails to recognize the systematic forces which leave people of color with less access to resources than their white peers. This lack of access has a direct impact on who could be considered the most qualified person for the job. Libraries are not exempt from this bias. This article states that in order for diversity initiatives within Canadian organizations to be successful, there must be an accompanying discussion which confronts inequalities within institutions.
American libraries face a similar issue. In order to make the career path more welcoming to visible minorities, there must be an institutional effort to “[a]cknowledge that past grievances like systematic discrimination and lack of properly funded educational opportunities will deter potential students” (Bell, Chan, Liu, & Ramos, 2018, p.3). American libraries can do as this article suggests and make diversity an institutional priority. Doing so will require addressing those previous grievances and providing alternative opportunities that will ease the way for visible minorities who wish to gain employment within an information institution. A diversity initiative that does not acknowledge the harmful structures in place and work to remove barriers is destined to be unsuccessful. In order to truly bridge the gap within American libraries, this article suggests incorporating feedback from visible minority librarians into strategies and action plans that seek to improve institutional inclusivity.

References –
Canadian Association of Professional Academic Libraries. (2017). 2016 Census of Canadian academic librarians cross tables. Retrieved from

Bell, N., Chan, May P., Liu, Guoying., & Ramos, Astrid. (2018). Roundtable: What is holding librarianship back from being more inclusive of visible minorities?. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 13(2) DOI:

Statistics Canada. (2017, October 25). Ethnic and cultural origins of Canadians: Portrait of a rich heritage [webpage]. Retrieved from

NNELS: A New Model for Accessible Library Service

Reviewed By: Jennifer Bousquet ,Sonia Botello, Robyn Brown

Link to article:

SP 19: INFO 275
Open Access Research Assignment
Jennifer Bousquet
Sonia Botello
Robyn Brown


The thrust of the 2018 article “NNELS: A New Model for Accessible Library Service in Canada” by author Kim Johnson, is that the visually-impaired public are chronically underserved in Canadian libraries. Johnson offers an overview that that describes a shortage in readily available material for individuals who have impairments that prevent them from reading traditionally printed materials. Johnson asks the question: “How can a public library provide a rich and diverse collection that meets the needs of its entire local community, including those with print disabilities, when so little of the published material is accessible?” (Johnson, 2018, p. 114). Johnson suggests that a new solution is being created by the The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). NNELS is a digital library with a mission to change traditional print materials to more accessible formats. Johnson makes the point that it is less costly and more efficient to create accessible materials to begin with, rather than after publication of traditional printed matter.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind was historically the primary resource for Canadians who needed these types of resources, and the library system in Canada has relied on the Institute to provide them as a default mechanism. NNELS is meant to empower all partner libraries to create and distribute materials themselves for print-disabled patrons without having to refer them to the Institute. The new formats of materials include synthetic voice and live narration recordings.

Johnson cites “Looking Back, Rethinking Historical Perspectives and Reflecting upon Emerging Trends,” as a thoughtful piece that examines how disability has been viewed in Canada as a medical problem, then transitioned to being seen as special needs/service model and the experience of being treated as “other,” and currently towards a movement with disability advocates fighting for equal access.

Core research question
Although Johnson doesn’t pose explicit research questions, there is a challenging tone to the article itself. Clearly Johnson feels that the print-disabled community in Canada has long been disenfranchised due to a lack of materials available to them in the public library system, and that something like NNELS is long overdue. Johnson sees the NNELS as the new frontier in building a more robust catalog for print-disabled patrons. With an “Accessible format collection and service, NNELS represents a professional practice that not only responds to the users’ needs but also builds on inclusivity and empowerment.” (Johnson, 2018, p. 115).

The researchers did an in-depth examination of NNELS in order to determine what kind of services it provided to people with print disabilities. The paper also looks at the history of accessible services to build up evidence to support their assessment of NNELS. The author’s examination of NNELS looks at what services are provides, how it provides them, and how these services benefit users. Real-life testimonials from users and examples from different libraries in Canada where the NNELS model is in use are included.
Findings and conclusion

The researchers found that NNELS provides an effective, user-driven service that takes into account the needs of the people it serves. They determined that part of the reason the NNELS is so effective is because it treats the users as customers who can demand a higher level of service, rather than clients who must take what is offered to them (Johnson, 2018, p. 116). They further this user-driven ethos by encouraging libraries to provide direct services to patrons (i.e. on-the-spot transfer of material to discs) (Johnson, 2018, p. 118). This empowers the libraries and validates the patron by not making them go through another agency to obtain the material, which would mean jumping through more bureaucratic hoops. Additionally, NNELS calls for a participatory model that allows community members to become involved by making recordings of popular materials (Johnson, 2018, p. 118).
Johnson concludes that NNELS will actually prove to be most effective when it paradoxically no longer needs to exist. The services that it provides should be included in libraries’ collections from the beginning, rather than users having to request them via a special service. Additionally, the material should originate as accessible material and not have to be reformatted (Johnson, 2018, p. 119).

What American libraries can learn from this research
To provide better services for the print disability community in America, American libraries can follow the example of Canada’s National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). Assistive technologies are not always useful for patrons, because most of the time the book they want is only available in print (Johnson, 2018, p. 114). This becomes a problem for library users with print disabilities. Yet, in Canada, the NNELS and Canadian libraries unite and develop accessible versions of printed material for print-disabled patrons. Once the newly formatted book is created, the material becomes part of the NNELS collection and is available for other print-disabled patrons (p. 117). American libraries can learn from and follow the footsteps of the NNELS to create various formats of books for the community.

One method the American libraries can do that the NNELS does is to develop audio versions using an on-demand model. Although audio books continue to be made, not all titles are available. The NNELS, however, has people from the organization and staff from libraries record books. If a book is being requested immediately, the NNELS will use synthetic audio to create the book quickly. Another method American libraries can take in is to create electronic versions of printed books, or they can make changes to e-text to make the text more user-friendly (Johnson, 2018, p. 117). Other ways the NNELS helps the print-disabled community are developing the books into PDF, DAISY, EPUB, electronic Braille, and other formats that best help the patron (National Network for Equitable Library Service, n.d.). American libraries could consider applying the formatting methods to other printed material as well. This includes material such as “medical information, instructional booklets, provincial library legislation,” and other informational material requested (Johnson, 2018, p. 117).

While the NNELS has an emphasis on using CD recordings as a delivery method for print-disabled patrons, American libraries may be able to apply their practices while possibly updating the technologies used. Canadian libraries seem to have an expanded awareness of this user segment that American libraries would benefit from, and consequently improve upon on our own options for providing more reading material for visually-impaired patrons. Some ways include adding voice-activated prompts to locate material in the catalog and using synthetic voice for e-books.

Johnson, K. (2018). NNELS: A new model for accessible library service. The International
Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 2(3), 114-120.

National Network for Equitable Library Service. (n.d.). Library Staff Homepage. Retrieved from

Socio-cultural innovation through and by public libraries in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Denmark: concepts and practices.

Reviewed By: Heather Bailey, Sim Castro, Erik Fredrickson, Ryan Jenkins

Link to article:

Delica, K., & Elbeshausen, H. (2013). Socio-cultural innovation through and by public libraries in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Denmark: Concepts and practices. Information Research, 18(3), C14. Retrieved from

Delica and Ebleshausen (2013) focus on several case studies to explore how public library use has shifted to address the needs of Denmark’s ethnic communities and the methodologies used to foster community empowerment and social inclusion. The needs of at-risk neighborhood communities have caused a shift in library programming and services from more traditional uses to a greater focus on the social needs of the community. This article discusses the different local configurations of three separate libraries that have transformed their spaces into community learning centers and provides an analysis of how those institutions have shaped the traditional library setting to meet the needs of their communities. In addition, Delica and Ebleshausen address how the work of these local innovation groups have helped to change the public library landscape into a collection of institutions with stronger social engagement and a focus on the wider communal needs. Their work includes marketing campaigns that have helped rebrand the library space as a “living room” making it a more community-focused information center. In addition, library sites have also offered cultural competency courses for staff to assist with immigration integration, bottom-linked innovation which encourages communal participation in program planning and decision making and outreach approaches that provide direct access to library services in the home. These efforts help to build local partnerships, empower the community and demonstrate that the library can serve a greater social purpose and bridge a cultural divide. The examples used in this case study also demonstrate that a shift in programming focus can foster inclusion and create a sense of place for underrepresented or disadvantaged communities.

Core Research Question
As an exploratory qualitative study, this article doesn’t so much answer a specific question as explore the factors that contribute to recasting libraries as community centers, and the methods used to make this shift possible within their at-risk communities and with limited resources. Framing their discussion of this refocusing of library-community engagement, the authors apply established theory in Integrated Area Development to observed practices and a rethinking of previous innovation community theory to the factors that precipitated them.

Research Method
In order to perform this investigation, qualitative methods of data gathering and analysis were applied to information gathered from three case studies chosen for their exemplary nature with regards to forming community centers within existing libraries to focus on different methods to address evolving community needs. At each institution, interviews, field observations and theme workshops were performed to gather data from both staff and patrons, in addition to evaluating previous and ongoing projects and analyzing data collected in bi-annual status reports to the Danish Agency of Culture. This data was used to support the proposed alternative framework for innovation communities and Integrated Area Development as well as discover and provide examples of how this innovation might be adopted by libraries in similar positions.

This group of three libraries exhibits how a library is a public institution that builds the community where it resides. The three libraries, chosen based on their socioeconomic characteristics, are located in immigrant and disadvantaged communities. The three case studies show how libraries can become cultural bridges that bring neighborhoods together.

Examples of how the discussed libraries engaged in Integrated Area Development are shown in how the libraries expand from the traditional model, demonstrating in three different ways how to become network builders, providing a source of social and economic guidance. Additional findings show how the use of local organizations in a project-based manner helps the community groups, as well as discussing how the issue of funding was significant in the success of these projects.

There are a few things that can be learned from Delicia and Ebleshausen’s article that libraries in the United States can use. Based upon how the article set up the issue of procuring funding for the projects and programs that the institutions wished to implement, structuring such programming as projects rather than as simply requests more funding would work out for US libraries. Another aspect that domestic libraries can take from this article are how the case studies carried out their results and their methods. Nørrebro’s detailed needs assessment of their community could best be implemented in low-income, racially-diverse populations to get an idea for how the libraries in those communities can best become community centers much like those within Denmark. Building programs around those needs as well as educating the population on how best they may be able express their needs and desires to a library so that when the library conducts a needs assessment survey as well as begins to build up its collections it can best know what the community really wants as opposed to what the library staff believes the community truly wants. While this is not new to libraries in the United States, conducting a needs assessment at the level that was done in Nørrebro to get a true idea of what the community needs and wants, working with the community and its leaders like how was done in Gellerup to understand the people who are in your community better, and promoting self-education of the community like in Vollsmose should become common practice elsewhere so that the needs of the communities are truly met.

Digital literacy and digital inclusion TeachMeets in London and Leeds

Reviewed By: Kathleen Heslop, Jason Patrone, Jamie Westfold

Link to article:

Article synopsis:
The article is a summary of meetups organized by two independent non-profits who champion digital information literacy, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’s Information Literacy Group (ILG) and the Tinder Foundation, a UK based charity that promotes positive digital use. The Tinder Foundation has since been renamed the Good Things Foundation. The goal of the two organizations was to bring different types of libraries together to discuss how libraries can utilize resources to assist older patrons, keep up with new technologies and policy changes. The meetup tackled issues specific to the UK, such as welfare reform and assisting seniors navigate it, in addition to international issues. Most libraries will have aging populations and increasing technological demands, therefore the topics have universal appeal.

Core research question:
The UK government has developed an equity program known as the Government Digital Strategy whose goal is to make all government services accessible online in a manner that is usable by all communities. The service is marketed with the tagline Digital by Default: “digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so whilst those who can’t are not excluded” (Cabinet Office, 2012). The TeachMeets tech conferences were held in order to discuss these practical, everyday information needs echoing the government’s Digital by Default message: How can access to basic government and community services be more inclusive?

Research Methods:
The participants in the conferences represented three library types: public, academic, and ‘further education’ (high school) who voted and settled on six topics to be covered. Short, peer-led presentations were followed by longer discussions of the six themes. Certain trends emerged from the discussions: establishing sub-themes, identifying barrier to implementation, examining case studies, and sharing best practices. The meeting format is useful for different library staff members to share ideas or experiences. It identifies concerns, challenges and solutions another location may have already found. Post-event evaluations expressed praise for the communal, self-led, sharing framework; it was obvious that the librarians enjoyed collaborating with peers rather than being lectured to by outside ‘experts’ or consultants. Complaints about the conferences’ methodology pointed towards perceived domination of the further education contingent as well as too much time spent discussing academic rather than (one can assume) practical concern. The fact that many participants complained about the conferences being too short is a final testament to their overall success (Tinder Foundation, 2016).

Findings and conclusions:
The studies ultimately determined that three historically disenfranchised populations should be targeted for inclusivity efforts: the elderly, non-native English speakers, and the poor. The discussion of accessibility for the elderly touched on personal computer skills. The example was given of an older person who is accustomed to using a public computer and therefore has immediate help if needed. However, when they get a personal computer, they are faced with tech tasks they never learned (physical set up, installing updates, contacting ISP’s, etc). Libraries could provide small groups or one on one sessions to teach elderly patrons about new technology. Libraries should empower older patrons to use technology either through showcases or bringing digital books to homebound patrons in file form. English language learners’ access to social media was another concern: how do they access untranslated sites in public spaces? Finally, UK residents who relied on public assistance are forced to adjust to new welfare laws (Universal Credit / Jobcentres) pushing them into more of a ‘workfare’ system. This population is now being asked to apply to jobs online, so more training in web forms is needed.
Three other conclusions were reached relating more to staff than patrons:
1) Volunteers: use to cover different areas and give more in depth assistance, use more in a relationship-building ways, such as delivering books to homebound patrons, leading workshops, or as one-on-one tutors. Having knowledgeable volunteers to give in depth technological assistance to the public would be an invaluable resource; however, it might be difficult to find volunteers with the necessary skills to teach the technology;
2) Other technology: libraries should offer devices other than desktop computers, including tablets, smartphones, and “Breezies.”
3) Tech training: again, since more and more patrons are bringing their own devices to libraries, staff should know how to access library services on them and should be trained in troubleshooting a variety of mechanisms. Libraries should create opportunities for their staff to experience and learn more about available technology. If the library can create a culture of exploration and experimentation with new technologies their employees will feel more comfortable assisting patrons, even if they are unfamiliar with the device.

What Can American Libraries Learn?
Many of the issues discussed in the TeachMeets could be applied to international communities and are not limited to the UK. Most American public libraries have to deal with some sort of digital divide, whether that is due to having an elderly community, non-Native English speakers, or economically disadvantaged residents. Any of the theories discussed by the TeachMeets might be easily put into practice at a library in the United States. US libraries should understand that many of their patrons have practical information needs. Sure, many patrons approach the reference desk with esoteric, trivial queries, but vulnerable communities may not have the luxury of spending time musing on obscure topics.

Cabinet Office. (2012). Government digital strategy. Retrieved from

Tinder Foundation. (2016). What place does digital inclusion have in digital literacy? Tinder Foundation/CILIP ILG TeachMeet facilitator summary report. Retrieved from

Demographic Variables and Academic Discipline as Determinates of Undergraduates’ Use of Electronic Library Resources in Federal Universities in Southwest, Nigeria

Reviewed By: Nhu-y Tran, Cheryl Pavliv, Rachel Fiege , Kathryn Wallace

Link to article:

Synopsis and description of how the article represents an international perspective
The article “Demographic Variables and Academic Discipline as Determinates of Undergraduates’ Use of Electronic Library Resources in Federal Universities in Southwest, Nigeria” discusses the importance of providing electronic materials to university students. It was conducted at six different universities in Nigeria. ELR’s consists of a wide variety of resources including: e-journals, e-books, online public access catalogues, CD-ROM databases, and E-theses. The objective was to find demographic variables in the usage of ELRs, academic purposes for ELRs, frequency of use, the demographic variables within different disciplines, as well as comparing the different disciplines.
This article represents an international perspective because academic libraries should have ELRs that are used widely across all campuses regardless of what university or country a student is studying. Campuses allow a broader perspective from a wide range of studies when students have electronic library resources. ELRs also allow students to read the most up to date research occuring in their field of study. Due to the importance of ELRs, librarians need to make sure students use these valuable sources. Research is important in this field because it allows academic libraries to see where their shortcomings are to fill the gap that is needed for students.

Core research question(s)

What are the relationships between undergraduates’ demographic variables such as age and gender and academic discipline on the use of electronic library resources in federal universities in South-west, Nigeria?

Methods used to answer the research question(s)

This study is a descriptive survey research design. Adefunke Sarah Ebijuwa and Iyabo Mabawonku used a multi-stage sampling technique in two stages. The first stage was to select the facilities and the second stage was to select the departments in which to recruit students from. In total, 1,526 undergraduates from four faculties and three departments in the six federal universities in South-west were recruited for their study. A questionnaire was utilized to collect data. The authors also employed descriptive statistics of frequency counts, percentages, mean, standard deviation, correlation, and regression methods to obtain the results.

Findings and conclusions
The study found that undergraduates were using ELRs for a variety of reasons such as updating their knowledge on areas of interest, working on class assignments, and using electronic sources for school projects. In short, students are using the full range of ELRs for academic purposes. The findings showed that most students use ELRs on a weekly basis. The only demographic that showed a variation in usage of ELRs was age- not gender or discipline. The types of ELRs varied among colleges and disciplines, but students were actively using the electronic resources that their universities have.
What can American libraries learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations?
American libraries can learn about designing services for diverse populations through this global study. Academic library staff need to help all students optimize their use of electronic library resources. Staff should check whatever biases they may have at the door and encourage their students to make use of all ELRs available to them. There should be no influence based on age or gender regarding the suggestions for these resources; likewise, students should use all resources equally and not favor one over the others. Motivation strategies can be introduced and should appeal to all. This is especially pertinent to diverse populations that encompass more than age and gender.
College professors should provide assignments to their students that address their classes’ diverse needs, which will require the use of ELRs for research and learning. In turn, academic libraries need to ensure that the ELRs they provide meet these needs and represent cultural competence and relevance. These resources should be marketed by the academic library staff to both faculty and students as relevant; students will be able to find their comfort level while researching, and faculty will remain assured that they can, in fact, send students to the library for the right information. Periodic assessments should be conducted to determine whether or not the ELRs are being used effectively.
Finally, universities should provide wider access of ELRs to their students and make these resources available outside of the library. When students are able to access their resources campus-wide through their wireless Internet connections, they can work remotely at a time and place that is convenient for them.

Indigenous Initiatives and Information Studies: Unlearning in the Classroom

Reviewed By: Natalie Daily, Britten Kuckelman, and Hollie Locke

Link to article:

The Library and Information Science (LIS) field has historically operated from a colonial position with regard to Indigenous communities, which has often lead to overlooking Indigenous ways of knowledge (pg. 67-68). The origins of many LIS practices can be traced to Medieval Europe and are incompatible to Indigenous knowledge practices (pg. 69). Additionally, merely using the hiring process to address diversity in the LIS field is not enough if practices regarding how services are offered to diverse communities aren’t driven by cultural transformation (pg. 69). In order to encourage more effective LIS services for Canadian Indigenous communities, the authors of this paper designed a course to lead LIS students through the practice of unlearning that which is yoked to the colonial mindset. The authors detailed their goals for the course, the methods they utilized to achieve these goals, and in-depth reflection to analyze the success of their efforts. Ultimately, adopting a posture of humility allowed students to learn from their classmates and prepare themselves for working in service to diverse target communities.
Canada has an Indigenous community that makes up close to 5% of the total population of the country (Statistics Canada 2017). Recently, the country has been having a public reckoning over Indigenous issues through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and recent efforts by the government to acknowledge the “occupation of unceded land” and recognize the rights of Indigenous people to control their own records (pg. 81). The course described in this paper offers a guideline for how to embed cultural competency in LIS coursework in a country that is demonstrating how to take the lead in integrating the Indigenous experience into society.
According to the authors, the purpose of the course was to cultivate a responsive learning environment where students could develop skills that are critical for work after graduation by providing strategies for support of Indigenous information needs. The primarily aim of this research was to determine the effectiveness of the pedagogical approaches, learning tools, and course materials that were utilized for this course (p. 72). Was this course successful in achieving its goal to prepare students to work with Indigenous peoples in support of ongoing developments in Indigenous culture, languages, governance, legislation, and litigation?
In order to assess how successful this course was in achieving its goals, the authors decided to draw from their own reflections on the design and teaching of the class rather than from the students’ input. According to the authors, the analytic process was “iterative” with both their “insights” and “humility” as educators developing throughout the course (p. 72). The authors followed a pedagogical practice that included developing an iterative planning and reflection process each week with face-to-face meetings where assignments and activities were discussed. Major themes of the course included Positionality & Awareness, Prior Knowledge & Unlearning, Reflective Practice, and Cultivating Humility (p. 73). Throughout the course, students were assigned weekly, non-graded reflective writing prompts, group work, and anonymous surveys (p. 74). In order to develop personal awareness and positionality within the framework of the course, the authors found, through trial and error, that utilizing collaborative tools that allowed the students to respond to the material with anonymity provided students with the opportunity to voice their concerns about making mistakes or offending classmates. For each of the major topics, the authors provided a lesson to the students and an activity that supported the advancement of the skills discussed. For example, during the unit of Prior Knowledge & Unlearning, the authors focused on Indigenous history and contemporary issues and encouraged students to question and potentially “unlearn” professional assumptions and biases towards Indigenous peoples (p. 76). Students were then assigned a reading activity about past federal policies that impacted Indigenous communities, which corresponded with the lesson (p. 76).
The authors struggled with the theme of prior knowledge and unlearning throughout the course. They found that students lacked basic knowledge of the history of settler initiatives in Canada and struggled with how much of it to teach during a masters level course (p. 76). On top of these knowledge gaps, they struggled to challenge students to unlearn the very core skills the students were taught in their professional programs. “The helping narrative, that part of being a professional is knowing what help is needed, bumps up against some of the ideas we wanted to critically engage with, and in some ways is counterintuitive to the concept of professional and intellectual humility” (p. 77). While the authors did not indicate any successful class activities, they identified a new way to frame this theme earlier on in the course for future classes.
Through multiple iterations of the coursework, the authors designed activities to provide students with the opportunity to critically reflect on and question normal practices in their profession. To this end, the authors provided the students with real life scenarios and asked students to strategize solutions. The authors then provided students with a framework for addressing dilemmas to teach students how to engage with challenging situations. This activity allowed students to challenge what is considered normal ethical practices (p. 78). To introduce the final theme of humility to the students, the authors assigned course readings and videos and then gathered reflection on questions about humility within the profession. “Overwhelmingly the reflections identified intellectual, professional, and cultural humility as key things that students learned about and will carry forward with them” (p.79).
Canada is not alone in having a history that is shaped by its relationship with its Indigenous groups, and making a concerted effort to “unlearn” cultural constructs and implicit bias is a concept that has implications for societies with their own Indigenous groups. Additionally, many societies have other diversity issues related to their colonial pasts that tend to shape the way that certain groups are treated. Incorporating “unlearning” into formalized coursework for LIS students is a way to give credibility to the knowledge of oppressed and/or disenfranchised groups and how to best serve them. This coursework should focus on unlearning biases resulting from settler, colonial, or Western culture that can be harmful to Indigenous peoples’ and other minority groups’ ability to gain appropriate access to information resources and materials.

Nathan, L. P., & Perreault, A. (2018). Indigenous initiatives and information studies: Unlearning in the classroom. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 2(1-2). 67-85.

Statistics Canada. (2017, October 25). Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census. Retrieved from

Sex differences in attitudes towards online privacy and anonymity among Israeli students with different technical backgrounds

Reviewed By: Sarah Potter, Esther Kim, Erin Oakden, Mariah Ramsour, Keshia Nash-Johnson

Link to article:

1. Article Synopsis
This article investigates the differences in online anonymity and privacy behavior between men and women among Israeli students with varying technical backgrounds. The purpose is to comparatively model men and women’s online privacy attitudes, and to assess the online privacy gender gap. To understand the inter-influence of different factors, assessment of men and women’s awareness of two types of threats against their online anonymity and privacy level are addressed: the technological threat such as technology that enables surveillances, detection of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web and the social threat such as exposure of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web.

The study also examines the male and female differences regarding protection of personal information on the Web, especially on social networks as well as lack of online privacy self-efficacy. Each user was measured on their familiarity level and actual usage of anonymity tools available on the Web. The study conducted considered both online privacy literacy tools and privacy literacy skills used by social users.

Male and female differences in user tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior was also examined. For example, if a user preferred to utilize the malleability of the Internet at the expense of information security, despite concern for their online privacy.

The literature review examines the digital gap between the sexes. For example, sex differences in computer and Internet literacy, self-efficacy, and online seeking behavior, as well as previous studies related to online privacy, anonymity, and self-disclosure. The subsequent literature conclusively notes a disparity, a term some call the knowledge gap hypothesis, where behavior and attitudes do not coincide.

This study is helpful in determining a comprehensive framework for research pertaining to sex differences across a variety of factors related to privacy behavior and online anonymity. It is also the first study to investigate these issues among Israeli students who are from different academic backgrounds. The research found has important implications in regards to Internet education and reducing the digital divide among the sexes. The social and technological dimensions explored in the study also give insight into the wider contexts of cyber security, protection of personal data, and online information literacy—all of which are important topics that can relate to the international experience.

2. Core Research Questions
This study addressed five research questions relating to gender, technological safety, and privacy:
1. Are there differences in men’s and women’s awareness of technological and social anonymity threats on the Web?
2. Are there differences in men’s and women’s concern for the protection of personal information on social and non-social Websites?
3. Are there differences in men’s and women’s online privacy self-efficacy and technological and social online privacy literacy?
4. Are there differences in men’s and women’s tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?
5. Does higher technological online privacy literacy decrease users’ tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?

3. Methods
To answer the research questions, this study conducted a questionnaire with 169 Israeli college students from two colleges, Bar-Ilan University and Jerusalem College of Technology, and three departments: accounting and business management studies, information science studies, and computer science and engineering. Seventy-one men and ninety-eight women answered a forty-question survey on online privacy. The survey was broken down into six sections asking questions relating to: participant demographics, awareness of threats to technological and social anonymity, concerns for safeguarding personal information online, effectiveness of ability to protect online privacy, knowledge on technological and social online privacy, and tendencies to engage in “privacy paradox behavior.”

4. Findings and Conclusions
A comparative model was used to summarize users’ attitudes towards online anonymity and privacy and it was found that women have more social awareness online, while men have more technical awareness. Despite the closing of this gap in technological knowledge, men still have an advantage over women in relation to technology, as they have an awareness of the technological threat that resides online and have a higher online privacy literacy level.
There were four aspects of online privacy and anonymity that were analyzed:
1. Sex differences with regard to the general awareness of limited anonymity on the Web using several measures of technological and social threat awareness
2. Sex differences with regard to the level of concern for protecting personal information on both general and social networks
3. Sex differences in users’ levels of online privacy self-efficacy and online privacy literacy (technical and social)
4. Sex differences with regard to privacy paradox behavior

Women’s ability to effectively manage their online privacy in the digital age is integral to their ability to protect private information such as health information, educational information, financial information, political views, and consumption patterns. Further research is needed that generalizes the proposed methodology in this study and uses a more diverse subject group (age, education level, occupation types, cultural backgrounds, and countries of origin). The authors also suggested that further steps be taken in the future such as implementing policy intervention and educational programs on online privacy, anonymity awareness, and digital literacy so that we can eventually eliminate the inter-sex technological gap.

5. Informing American Library Program Design from Global Practices
The literature, relative research, and results of this study indicate a need for educational programming on digital literacy with an emphasis on security and privacy. The study established that the participants had varying levels of concern about what is being disclosed through their online activity. Although the focus group of this study consisted of Israeli male and female students, it is likely that these concerns are not limited to this population. Therefore, American libraries should not only provide secured online access, but libraries should also provide education about what that means. All internet users should feel confident in their knowledge of what information is at risk and how to protect themselves from inadvertent disclosures of personal information. This program could be very successful at both public and academic libraries, but could be appropriate for all environments that emphasize the importance of information literacy.

Transformative Praxis – Building Spaces for Indigenous Self-determination in Libraries and Archives

Reviewed By: Myla Perrelli, Jennifer Robertson, Josephine Trott, & Jessica Walker

Link to article:

This article looks at the ways in which libraries and archives in Australia can decolonize and indiginize simultaneously in order to provide cultural safety to their communities. The author Kirsten Thorpe believes that much importance lies in the praxis, or combination of reflection and action within the context of theory and practice, as it relates to the work that needs to be done with regards to Indigenous peoples. A stronger and more direct dialogue is needed on the subject of Indigenous people and decolonization within the library community in addition to more direct action. The importance of cultural interface, or the different awareness and knowledge that people have on a subject, is discussed. The article thoroughly delves into important areas where work needs to be done in institutions and research with the goal to provide solutions. These areas include utilizing Indigenous research methodologies, working locally with Indigenous peoples, and resourcing the decolonization and indigenization with time and money. Additionally, the author is an Indigenous archivist from Australia who has 20+ years of experience working in the field. Her family on her mother’s side are Worimi people from a coastal region of Australia.

Core Research Questions
For this article, the core questions are explicitly written in the text. They are:
“ How can libraries and archives engage with indigenous peoples and communities to build mutual partnerships within current frameworks?” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)
Can libraries and archives build spaces with respect to indigenous people, or will they continue to ignore their role of “perpetuating colonial system and structures”? (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)

Historically, the organization of information in Australian libraries and archives have continually ignored input or voice from the Indigenous peoples and communities. The author stresses throughout the article that ignoring the Indigenous people’s perspectives, will continue to harm the community and possibly traumatize the multiple generations with colonial centric histories. Practices cannot merely change overnight without community partnerships and engagement. The author questions how we can create mutual partnerships, given the current organization in current libraries and archives.

In the past, there has been an effort in creating library and archive spaces for Indigenous communities; however, “many projects and services were being designed without Indigenous community input or perspective” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1 para. 9). Problematically, Indigenous peoples were asked to approve of new projects only after they have been designed and created. These finished projects had little to no input or collaboration from the communities in which they were for. If Australian libraries and archives want to build and design spaces with respect to the Indigenous communities that exist in Australia, the author argues that there needs to be an effort to collaborate with Indigenous people and decolonize the classification, description, and organization of the existing system.

Thorpe uses a qualitative examination of personal experiences, or autoethnography, according to the guidelines laid out by Houston (2007) to consider the core questions. The data for this self-study is acquired through Indigenous Standpoint Theory (IST) and evaluated using Cultural Interface as detailed by Nakata (2007). Standpoint theory is an individual’s ability to understand how their perspectives have been shaped by the dominant, usually conflicting, culture. IST specifically looks at how the dominant culture has erased, misrepresented, and suppressed ancestral cultures and languages to perpetuate assimilation. This provides context for identifying the instances of suppression that arise in the everyday life of Indigenous people. These instances are also the root of much distrust with the institutions in question. Cultural interface uses the intersection of Indigenous people’s ancestral identity and colonizer culture to witness systematic conflicts. Using the cultural interface, instances identified with IST can be evaluated based on how much personal harm and trauma is inflicted. Thorpe (2019) considers both the “experiential and intellectual” impact of these instances (Thorpe, p.1, para. 5). This qualitative information is used to inform ways they can be used in praxis to decolonize libraries and archives. In doing so, the oppressive power systems can be eliminated to create supportive spaces and systems for Indigenous people.

The main finding of the study is that in order to make archives and libraries more supportive of indigenous populations, various goals must be achieved. The first of which is that “indigenous research methodologies” must be utilized (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para 20). For example, the Kaupapa Maori Theory provides great framework for challenging the “dominant systems of power”, or in other words, the library and archival structures that oppress indigenous populations (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 6). The next component is to use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to guide library and archive practices. Another idea is to consult leaders in the indigenous community for their advice, work with them to prioritize goals and adopt protocols that are applicable to these groups. Additionally, collaborative members could create plans that will put these protocols into action. Librarians and archivists need to respect indigenous groups’ values and build a relationship of mutual benefit. It is also important to increase representation of indigenous peoples in leadership positions such as on library boards. Leaders need to understand that the process of creating a supportive environment requires changes that must be made to work, with time and resource division. Lastly, advocate for studies of indigenous populations as a core component of curriculum in library and archive courses.

What can American libraries learn from this?
American Libraries can learn from the international perspectives that the populations the library is looking to serve should be leaders for developing services. Key groups in the community must be consulted and power structures of the library must be examined. Libraries need to be willing to look at the underlying structural components of their organizations that may marginalize groups in their community and be willing to change them.

White librarians in particular have a lot of work to do. Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities should not have to bring this work forth alone. It needs to be an effort that takes into account the trauma and emotional/cultural safety of the community that the librarian works and resides within.

Librarians and archivists also need to understand that there are different cultural practices and beliefs between multiple Indigenous communities. If they want to design spaces for them, then collaboration needs to happen before, during, and after the process. Librarians must recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all in creating these information spaces, so the process will need to be revisited several times, with each distinctive Indigenous group.

Essentially, Americans libraries were designed in a colonized system which has been shown to be oppositional and harmful to Native Peoples. This article draws attention to the ways in which American libraries may be similarly hostile to Indigenous Americans. To consider the actionable ways to decolonize the system, as laid out in the article, provides a starting point for local research and understanding of the methods for measuring and collecting community input.


Houston, J. (2007). Indigenous autoethnography: Formulating our knowledge, our way. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 36(S1), 45-50.

Nakata, M. (2007). Disciplining the savages: Savaging the disciplines. Canberra, A.C.T.: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Thorpe, K (2019). Transformative praxis: Building spaces for Indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives. Retrieved from