Introduction. Family Realities in South Asia: Adaptations and Resilience

Reviewed By: Elizabeth Barragan, Andrew Ho

Link to article:

The article Family Realties in South Asia: Adaptations and Resilience by Parual Bhandari and Fritzi-Marie Titzmann examine the changes in family structures they asses how norms and values have changed in relation to gender, technological intervention media and process of individualization have affected family structures in South Asian. Family dynamics are an important in South Asian families even with the shift in technology, migration they continue to be at the heart of people’s lives. The families play a major role in the life of South Asians families are considered in most aspects of life and the influence that a family has on and individuals life remains very much dominant in decision making. The goal is to analyze research, literature, empirical details, and diverse theories corresponding to some for the reasons why there have been changes in family norms in South Asian societies in the past decade with a main focus on how technology, gender roles, and migration are factors to the changes.

The article first discusses the role that families play in society and individual and how they families are shaped by social, cultural and technological changes. “Family and the idea of family exist in multiple forms in South Asian.” By taking a look as how relations, gender, diversity in geographical setting and urban spaces (big and small cities).

Research Questions
What are the relationships between variables gender roles, migration, technology, socialization and modernization and the shift in how families are structured in South Asia? The article analyzes three main factors in correlation to family structures (1) Individual family community nexus, (2) gender roles agency and (3) technology and media. “What is the significance of the family in contemporary times?”

Several methods are used to analyze family as well as the variable that contribute to the changes in the restriction of families in recent years. The Alliance Theory by Louis Dumont bring to attention that even though there are differences between north and south kinship. Despite the diversity, “India’s unity may be located in the existing of the joint family and the Hindu caste system through the subcontinent.” (Bhandari, Titzmann p.2)

Research indicates that even though changes are happening in migration, gender roles, and the increased use of technology families are adapting but are also resisting the changes mentioned. With the industrialization and urbanization of South Asian there has been a large shift and migration into large cities to seek employment. This has shifted families with the separation of a family member into the city to work and provide for their family. Yet with the separation the family still holds control over the individual The work of Uberoi’s ”The Family in India provides insight by stating that ”the process of nuclearization of households due to urbanization in India, this does not necessarily indicate a decline in the joint family but simply a change in household composition”. The study also found that the household structure does not overpower the structure of family values and norms. Media’s representation has shifted in Hindi family films families are portrayed as clean and morally uplifting. TC is also showing family as they change by portraying them as happy joint families.
The oppression of gender roles have slightly shifted with more women entering the workforce in IT. The exposure is a key change in women’s lives with increasing opportunities, adding skills, and large knowledge of life explores. Women in India today have opposites their mother never dreamed about. Yet the oppression of the cost factors in the roles women play outside of the home and within their families. “Women’s agency in dealt with the struck and norms of various forms of oppression” There has been an uprising in women emotionally with family suppression

What American libraries can learn.
American libraries can learn from the global practice of this research by understanding the impact of different family’s dynamics across the globe. In the case of South Asian families there is still a large influence in being a family unit even when starting one’s own family. It seems like the structure of families are to please ones partners and be obedient even with the changes in migration, gender roles, and media and technology representation. There is still a predisposition of patriarchal cultural practices that often affect how a family integrates into American society and we should be cognizant of that. We will need to navigate a fine line between respecting while still helping those with radically different cultural norms.

Parul Bhandari and Fritzi-Marie Titzmann, « Introduction. Family Realities in South Asia: Adaptations and Resilience », South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal[Online], 16 | 2017, Online since 02 August 2017, connection on 02 November 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/samaj.4365

Titzmann, Fritzi-Marie. 2013. “Changing Patterns of Matchmaking: The Indian Online Matrimonial Market.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 19(4):64–94.
DOI : 10.1080/12259276.2013.11666166

Uberoi, Patricia. 2001. “Imagining the Family: An Ethnography of Viewing Hum Aapke Hain Koun … !” Pp. 309–51 in Pleasure and the Nation, edited by R. Dwyer and C. Pinney. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Canadian Academic Library Support forInternational Faculty: Library Experience and Information Needs of Chinese Visiting Scholars at the University of Western Ontario

Reviewed By: Charlotte Natale, David Hicks, Jillian Zeller, Leslie Pethoud, Michael McClain, Stephanie Murakami

Link to article:

Article Synopsis

In this article, the author examines the causes of shortcomings in academic library service provided to visiting international scholars, specifically scholars from China. Many of the difficulties faced by these international scholars are similar to the difficulties faced by international students, but much more has been written about student issues. The author identifies several key challenges that visiting Chinese scholars face that prevent those scholars from effectively using library services: a language barrier between scholars and library staff, a mutual lack of awareness between the scholars and the library, differences in previous library experience between Chinese and North American libraries, and the differences in search strategies and citation management between Chinese and English language services. The author then makes recommendations for how to address these challenges in order to provide adequate library service.
This article showcases an international perspective on diversity by emphasizing the differences between Canadian academic libraries and Chinese academic libraries, such as differences in expectations of the services that are provided by library staff. We see that cultural differences must be acknowledged and addressed by library staff in order to provide equal service to visiting international scholars, and that cultural differences affect the library experiences and expectations of scholars as well as students. The author suggests that the lessons learned at the University of Western Ontario can be applied to libraries across North America and beyond.

Core Research Questions

The core research questions of our chosen article are: (1) how are international faculty utilizing the academic library of the University of Western Ontario and (2) what else can be done by academic librarians to support the underserved population of international faculty? (Xie, 2012, p. 1)

Methods Used

The University of Western Ontario in Canada funded a visiting University Scholars Program to attract visiting faculty to the campus. Faculty members apply to the Canadian program to expand their research work beyond their own countries. However, language and culture barriers affected the use of the library by non-English speaking visitors caused by a lack of familiarity with library terms and services. The author hypothesized that there is a significant relationship between library information behaviors of non-English speaking visitors and their lack of familiarity with library jargon and terms outside of their countries, languages, cultures, and library experiences in their home libraries.
The author conducted one-on-one interviews with several Chinese visiting scholars on the campus of the University of Western Ontario. An email was sent to an entire group of Chinese scholars, which included a bilingual Chinese and English questionnaire about their library use and an invitation to a library workshop in which search strategies, information sources, and the interlibrary loan process were introduced. The questionnaire was short and simple and consisted of questions about the scholars’ visits online and in-person to the university library and their preferences for library search tools.

Findings and Conclusions

Xie (2012) identified four themes relating to Chinese visiting scholars’ use of libraries at Western:
Language barrier: Although Chinese scholars have some knowledge and use of the English language, many of them struggle with speaking and listening to English, therefore making it difficult to communicate their needs to campus staff.
Library awareness: There is a lack of awareness of Chinese scholars about academic libraries’ resources and there is also a lack of awareness of library staff about international staff’s information and user needs.
Library experience: The previous experience Chinese scholars had at their home libraries affected the resources they used while at Western. Scholars from small to medium sized libraries that often lacked access to databases were more likely to use web-based searches. Additionally, none of the scholars had used reference services at their home libraries which translated into them not being aware of, and therefore not using, reference services at Western.
Information needs: Scholars need to learn how to formulate a search using English databases because it is different than Chinese databases due to the English language’s use of letters and the Chinese language’s use of characters. Scholars also need help evaluating journals and using citation management software.


Outreach approaches: Work with existing faculty who have connections with visiting faculty and communicate through a key contact person to reach the target user group via outreach efforts. Suggested approaches are to partner with another group on campus to give a library introduction and to create supporting materials like a pamphlet for distribution.
Reference Help: Librarians should be patient and understanding. When verbal communication fails, another option is to have the individual write down their question. Additionally, librarians can consult the “Multilingual Glossary of Terms”created by ACRL-IS or try to refer the individual to another colleague who is proficient in the language.
Copyright and Open Access Information: It is recommended that library staff highlight copyright regulations to international faculty as they may be significantly different from their home country. Additionally, it is helpful to connect the visiting scholars with open access information so they may continue to use these resources when they leave the university.


International visiting faculty are easily overlooked and academic librarians should be more aware of these scholars. Similar to international students, international faculty face challenges in using academic libraries. More research is needed on this particular user group.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations
American libraries have much to learn from this study, since Chinese scholars who visit American universities can be expected to experience many of the same challenges. When designing services for these populations, American academic librarians can follow Xie’s (2012, p. 10) example of building relationships with key members of the visiting scholar community. These direct, personal connections provide a necessary window into the unique information needs of this population, while also serving as a foundation upon which to build strategic partnerships that can enhance the effectiveness of service provision. In order to develop these connections, academic librarians must be made aware of the visiting scholar community on campus. To achieve this, librarians could request to be notified when visiting scholars arrive so that they can reach out to them with library orientation information.
This study also demonstrates the importance of understanding the ways in which visiting scholars perceive the library, which is influenced primarily by their prior experience with libraries in their home countries (Xie, 2012, p. 8). Since library services vary across the world, visiting scholars may have limited knowledge of the services provided by American libraries and would, thus, need to be informed of these (Xie, 2012, p. 8–9). Xie’s (2012, p. 11) suggestion of conducting library orientation seminars specifically for visiting scholars and partnering with other departments on campus to distribute informational pamphlets to them would work well at American universities. Additionally, American academic librarians could establish a network of global colleagues to learn more about libraries around the world and their unique differences.
Xie (2012, p. 6–7) also provides helpful guidance on how to address the language barriers experienced by this population. Since Chinese visiting scholars sometimes have difficulty communicating verbally in English (Xie, 2012, p. 6), providing avenues for them to interact with librarians in writing, such as service request forms, would make it easier for them to communicate their information needs. A simple strategy that American academic libraries could employ to address these language barriers is to display signage in multiple languages throughout the library—either temporarily for the duration of the visiting scholars’ stay, or permanently, if a particular institution hosts international scholars and patrons regularly or has a policy aim of “enhanc[ing] its visibility and involvement in international activities and collaborations” (Xie, 2012, p. 2). Supplying visitors with very detailed instructions for library usage in their language is a direct way to prevent confusion or miscommunication. The institution can also provide training for library staff to develop their cultural knowledge and equip them with a basic level of language proficiency. Contracting translators for the duration of visitors’ stay is also an option.
American libraries should maintain an internal evaluation process to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the success of its programs. The 2011 workshop at Western provided questions alongside instruction (Xie, 2012, p. 5); however, for added clarity, international scholars and similar visitors should be provided an exit survey once they have finished their work at the library location. In-person interviews prior to their leaving, while informal, would also be a useful way to gain data to improve library operation. The exact number of international patrons, the duration of their stay, and for what reason they use the library should be tracked for the further refinement of library programs and preparation for future visits.

Xie, S. (2012). Canadian academic library support for international faculty: Library experience and information needs of Chinese visiting scholars at the University of Western Ontario. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 7(2), 1–14.

Give Us Vision, Lest We Perish: Engaging Disability at the National Library of Jamaica

Reviewed By: Julie Bachinger, Jenny Cofell, Rose Flores, Jess Maultsby, Katie Olding, & Brianna Sowinski

Link to article:

Accessibility and Inclusiveness at the National Library of Jamaica

Reviewed by: Julie Bachinger, Jenny Cofell, Rose Flores, Jess Maultsby, Katie Olding, & Brianna Sowinski

Link to the article:
The article written by Abigail Henry, Nicole Prawl, & Beverly Lashley (2019), entitled “Give Us Vision, Lest We Perish: Engaging Disability at the National Library of Jamaica” highlights a pilot project carried out by the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) in response to the 2010 National Library of Jamaica Act, which explicitly references accessibility. The project also addresses the Jamaican 2014 Disabilities Act, which “affirms that people with disabilities have the right to education and training to ensure their ability to effectively and equally be included in all aspects of national life” (p.89). The article highlights efforts made by the NLJ to reach out to the deaf community, including a 12 week sign language training course for staff at NLJ, as well as changes to the website accessibility including: colour control, subtitles/text transcripts, and sign language interpretation for video content. The article covers challenges, such as outreach and awareness-raising to communities that have not been catered to before, and removal of environmental barriers.
This article represents an international perspective in that it explores how national and local governments, along with institutions, in this case NLJ, can work together to support diversity and inclusion. This article can serve as a springboard for other countries, and libraries within those countries, to think about how all levels of government might work together to serve diverse populations within their communities.
Core Research Questions
How did the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) enhance the engagement of people with disabilities and improve inclusivity in the workplace?
What are the existing challenges facing the Jamaican government?
How was the NLJ’s website modified to be more accessible to persons with perceptual disabilities?
How did the NLJ address the need for accessible facilities in the design of the newly proposed facility?
Henry, Prawl, & Lashley (2019) note that their paper is reflective and therefore does not follow traditional methodology. The authors acknowledge that their aim was to feature the work NJL has done thus far and recognize possible barriers for future work. They do identify key issues for NLJ to work towards to improve accessibility and inclusivity which include future partnerships with organizations which work with the deaf community and working on a new facility with inclusive design.

Findings and Conclusions
The National Library of Jamaica sought to improve inclusivity for their patrons as well as one of their employees who worked in their Preservation and Conservation unit as a book binder. The department had always employed deaf individuals as part of their staff but most had retired shortly after Mr. Christopher Valentine was hired leaving him as the only staff member with a hearing impairment.
After the staff participated in a 12 week, rudimentary sign language course they found that their communication with Mr. Valentine shifted from writing work related questions and instructions on paper, to having conversations using basic finger spelling, simple sign language regarding work, and nonwork topics. As a result, the staff improved their relationships and workplace environment. The skills gained helped them when working with the general public and opened avenues of service for those who were deaf in their community.
Further work by the NLJ also helped make their resources accessible to those with visual impairments such as the implementation of Digital Talking Books and changes to their website such as “narration for images, link description, enlarged clickable areas for users with mobility issues, and colour control for users with perceptual disability or colour blindness”(2019, p. 95). The team concluded that consistent community outreach must be in place to ensure community awareness of these services to ensure their use by patrons who would need it the most.

What American Libraries Can Learn
There are many things that American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations. Henry, Prawl, and Lashley discuss how the National Library of Jamaica recognized underserved populations with disabilities and the initiatives introduced as an effort to meet their needs. Some things American libraries can learn from the efforts of the National Library of Jamaica:
When planning programs and services, consider and be sensitive to cultural traditions as to not miss underserved populations. For example, “In Jamaica, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) face cultural marginalization and discrimination stemming from the traditional understanding of disability as either the result of witchcraft (or obeah) or divine punishment for unjust acts committed either by the person or their family member(s)” (2019, p.89). Due to this historical discrimination many people with disabilities are excluded from participating within the community, understanding this historical discrimination is necessary for successful outreach efforts to these populations.
Partnerships are necessary and essential, libraries cannot address these societal issues by themselves. It is beneficial for national, local governments and institutions to work together to successfully meet goals and objectives. To accommodate those deaf or hearing impaired, NLJ partnered with a school for the deaf and the Jamaica Association for the Deaf. The also collaborated with a professional sign language interpreter to train staff sign language.
The National Library of Jamaica makes efforts to accommodate those who are blind and with sight limitations by maintaining a “…Caribbean Digital Audio Collection (DCAC, a pilot project to test the processes and structures needed to develop, produce, and deliver accessible Digital Talking Books (DTBs) for the Blind and print-disabled” (2019, p.91).
By making changes to the NLJ website, they were able to accommodate some patrons with disabilities. “Some of the measures implemented include the enabling of alternative captions and narration for images, link description, enlarged clickable areas for users with mobility issues and colour control for users with perceptual disabilities or colour blindness” (2019, p. 95). NJL has a long term plan to make an accessibility guide for all of their sites and digital collections in the future to better serve individuals with perceptual disabilities.

Henry, A., Prawl, N., & Lashley, B. (2019). Give Us Vision, Lest We Perish: Engaging Disability at the National Library of Jamaica. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (IJIDI), 3(4). doi: 10.33137/ijidi.v3i4.3299

What makes an object queer? Collecting and exhibiting LGBT stories in regional museums and archives

Reviewed By: Jarrod Chilton, Eleanor Hill, Naomi Hill, Juliet Howard, Lain Krikourian, and Britton Roseberry

Link to article:

Reviewed By: Jarrod Chilton, Eleanor Hill, Naomi Hill, Juliet Howard, Lain Krikourian and Britton Roseberry

Link to article:

Article Synopsis

Dr. Jessie Lymn and Samantha Leah’s (2016) “What Makes an Object Queer? Collecting and Exhibiting LGBT Stories in Regional Museums and Archives,” presents the early findings of a case study approach (featuring the Museum of the Riverina’s We Are Here: Riverina LGBT Stories exhibition) to help collection managers, curators, and donors build a better understanding of how to capture queer objects within a wider context by considering the social histories associated with LGBT experiences of people from the Riverina regions in New South Wales, Australia. Lynn and Leah’s (2016) introduction begins by noting that the most common challenges associated with LGBT materials relate to classification and curation—most of which stem from the article’s recurring question: what makes an object queer?
The research supports the argument for a curatorial process which includes input from relevant (i.e. Riverina LGBT) community members, and, most importantly, creates a space for more than just physical objects to be stored (Lymn & Leah, 2016). The adoption of the suggested curatorial process brings depth to the collection and helps enable others to recognize and have empathy for the lived experiences of the diverse LGBT community (Lymn & Leah, 2016). The process which the article continually asserts is built on the notion that: “[l]ibraries, archives and museums are responsible for collecting, preserving and making accessible the important stories of all members of the community, including those whose stories may have been hidden or invisible in the past, such as the LGBT community” (Lymn & Leah, 2016).
In order to authentically represent the diverse experiences of the LGBT community in regional collections, community consultations—both group and individual meetings—were facilitated by the museum’s curator to gather accurate information directly from community members who identify as LGBT (Lymn & Leah, 2016). The article also notes how a pop-up exhibition was held at a local pub where the museum’s curator extended an invitation to community members and encouraged them to bring LGBT-centered stories and artifacts to share with others (Lymn & Leah, 2016). To further combat the dominant narrative which highlights the progress of the majority by excluding the social histories of those who don’t fit within the norm or the dominant narrative’s definition of progress, the Museum of the Riverina must thoughtfully collect and curate the queer objects to begin to interrupt linear notions of time and history (Lynn & Leah, 2016).
The We Are Here: Riverina LGBT Stories exhibition creates a unique space to help facilitate alternative ways of thinking about the regional history, and above all, challenges its audiences to, “…think about the object as more than the physical object, but instead as part of a broader object of queer practice, and in this case, regional queer practice” (Lymn & Leah, 2016). Lymn and Leah’s (2016) conclusion emphasizes that the recognition of queer objects doesn’t change the object’s roll within the collection, but rather enhances its classification and invites more depth into the collection’s content.

How this Article Represents an International Perspective

The article, based on research done in Wagga Wagga, a small Australian town, contributes to an international discussion about geography’s impact on the stories of marginalized communities. It examines “regional optimism” and how a region’s history is often presented in progressive terms, and difficult parts of its narrative are relegated to a national level (Lymn & Leah, 2016). In examining how Wagga Wagga’s history is told, the authors found that the “massive social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s seems to pass the town by,” (Lymn & Leah, 2016) effectively erasing the history of those on society’s fringes. This research has international value, as regional exhibits anywhere might be curated with greater awareness of queer communities and ownership of controversial historical events.

Core Research Question

As the title of the paper suggests, the core research question this article explores is, what makes an object queer? Lymn and Leah do well to explore this quandary and in that process get to a question even more focused on the context of an information organization, “how is that queerness represented within the collection and in the record of the object’s provenance?” (2016, p. 1) One of the objects donated to the exhibition was a whistle used by a community member during a notable queer march. The authors want to know how to link this context to the object in a way that makes it useful and self-explanatory for the future.


Using what was coined a scavenger methodology by Halberstam, the authors employed methods that “refuse[d] disciplinary coherence,” pairing dominant institutional practices with “fringe stories and encounters” to answer their research question (Lymn & Leah, 2016). Direct consultation with the local LGBTQIA+ community was made through multiple events, which also garnered items for inclusion in the exhibit, and allowed for those members to self-determine what made an item queer and worthy of inclusion: namely, that it was the use of the object in regional queer practice and not the item itself that made it queer.

Findings and Conclusions

The objects curated for the exhibition influenced the museum’s curation process. Their collection management system expanded its categorization of LGBT materials. The exhibition’s researchers found objects are categorized as queer when “oral histories and donor interviews…contributed to a wider sense of boundary object” (Lymn & Lean, 2016, p. 8), creating a better understanding of their significance in queer culture. However, the exhibition failed to provide the “lived experience of homophobia” (Lymn & Leah, 2016, p. 8) for cisheteronormative museum staff, who continued to believe their region was not bigoted despite LGBT stories saying otherwise. There’s a need to preserve the social histories of marginalized communities, and researchers continue to work with information services staff and donors to collect, curate, and develop an understanding of queer objects.

What American Libraries can Learn from Global Practice

Through Lymn and Leah’s article American libraries can begin to build on the foundational writings that seek to define what makes an object queer and how queer objects are represented. Of special importance that can be applied to many areas of LIS research in America is how the LGBT community is treated on a national level while remaining nonexistent in more regional historical narratives. While focusing on the specific narratives of the LGBT community, several diverse populations exist in America that can benefit from both a nonlinear methodological approach as well as the leveraging of community consultations that respect their information exchange preferences and community remembering, (Gorichanaz & Turner, 2018).


Gorichanaz, T. & Turner, D. (2018). Collaborative connections: Designing library services for the urban poor. Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 88(3). pp. 237-255. Chicago. Retrieved from:

Lymn, J. & Leah, S. (2016). What makes an object queer? Collecting and exhibiting LGBT stories in regional museums and archives In Proceedings of RAILS – Research Applications, Information and Library Studies, 2016, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 6-8 December, 2016.. Information Research, 22(4), paper rails1618. Retrieved from

“MOLLY®, when will you come again? : A mobile library service for the less privileged”

Reviewed By: Mariam Berlak, Laura Blasingame, Kristy Ealy, Felicia Mackey, Carmina Ramirez

Link to article:

Reviewed by: Mariam Berlak, Laura Blasingame, Kristy Ealy, Felicia Mackey, Carmina Ramirez

Mobile libraries exist to provide equal “access to available information resources” (Chan, 2009, p. 2). Initially, mobile libraries were introduced to Singapore in 1958 “to alleviate the demands for library services at the main library in Stamford Road and to reach out to the juvenile population after several part-time branches closed”(Chan, 2009, p. 1). With the library closures, student in rural areas did not have library access. At that time, the mobile libraries served “students from 35 rural schools… on a fortnightly basis”(Chan, 2009, pp. 1-2). By 1991, the mobile library service came to an end when more library branches were built. The students of Singapore no longer have an issue finding a library as Singapore currently has “one reference library, three regional libraries and nineteen community libraries” (Chan, 2009, p. 1). But even with there being so many libraries, “more than 50% of Singapore’s population remain inactive library users” (Chan, 2009, p. 2).

“MOLLY®, when will you come again? : A mobile library service for the less privileged” introduces us to a mobile library, MOLLY®, in Singapore that is housed in a converted transport bus with “retro-fitting of shelves, air conditioner, generator, retractable awning and exterior decal” (Chan, 2009, p. 4). “[T]he mobile library carries 3000 books at any one time, it has more than 25,000 books in its entire collection stored off-site” (Chan, 2009, p. 4). The mobile library was started in 2008. MOLLY® functions like a normal library, which helps familiarize users with how a library operates: “the mobile library adopts the operational blueprint of a branch library, the acquisition of materials is also centralized at a library supply centre” (Chan, 2009, p. 5). This mobile library focuses on serving disadvantaged children. MOLLY® travels to “special education schools for children and teenagers with intellectual and physical disabilities, schools for children with autism, associations for persons with intellectual and physical disabilities, homes and shelters for children, teenagers and adults, orphanages” (Chan, 2009, p. 2) as well as prisons, to serve children with parents who are incarcerated.

The study represented in this article seeks to answer the following questions:

How can we connect potential library users to the library?
How do we connect library services to community members whose social, economic and physical constraints hinder their use of libraries?
How can mobile libraries provide library services that foster social bonding, equal access to books, teaches values to its users while providing invaluable experience to library staff to better serve special populations?

In order to answer these questions, it was needed to identify members in the community that were not accessing library services; this meant identifying groups that had social, economic and physical constraints. These groups included children, youth and adults in welfare homes and orphanages, students in special education schools and senior citizens.

To achieve this outcome, it was vital to establish and maintain lasting partnerships with principals, teachers, and administrators to maintain interest in library programs beyond the initial novelty of having MOLLY® visit their sites. Another important aspect was to build relationships with students. In this way, social bonding took place by offering a space to read and to learn surrounded by library staff, peers and family.

As library staff spent more time with students, they were able to better understand their needs. They identified reading levels and interests which helped with collection development. Some students learned to open and hold a book or identify pictures and words. These opportunities gave them equal access to books in the same way as if they had visited the public library.

Teachers took the opportunity to teach values of responsibility to their young and adult students by bringing their library cards the day MOLLY® visited and by taking care of the books they checked out. Other values of the service was the “normalization” of special needs children by having regular contact with people and learn how to do things independently such as checking out a book.

Additionally, creating and maintaining this service allowed library staff to gain experience that they would not have received otherwise through outreach to traditionally underserved populations in Singapore. This experience can be applied more broadly in the information profession as they learned to interact with and serve all types of users with a respectful and sensitive manner.

In less than a year, MOLLY® has effectively contributed to the lives of those who are typically underserved in Singapore due to age, location, or disability. In particular, one school principal of a school for children with special needs noted that MOLLY® not only increased awareness of library services, but also introduced these students to “qualities that are essential for learning” (Chan, 2009, pp. 15-17).

From the date of the article, one year after the mobile library’s launch, “40,000 people have visited the mobile library… 1,167 new library membership sign-ups and more than 54,000 books borrowed from the mobile library” (Chan, 2009, pp. 14-15). With the launch of MOLLY®, library patronage has gone up; this is of particular importance when considering the aim of encouraging new library membership rather than simply serving a population on a single occasion. If one bus can bring library services to so many people, what can 5 busses do? If every country and community worldwide had a mobile library like MOLLY®, more people would have easy access to information. More disadvantaged people would be socially and culturally informed. This article shows that if you bring services to the people, the people will use them. The library will no longer be just the building you pass on the way to the post office; instead it will be this cool, fun place to go. And that idea will work anywhere in the world.

The United States has a well-developed bricks and mortar library system but it works best for those who live adjacent to their physical libraries; more work is needed reaching out to underserved disabled patrons. MOLLY® brings access to those who are not well served by the standard local library, either because there is no library close enough or because the targeted audience is not easily served. MOLLY® can be stocked with books and materials based on specific needs of a community in addition to going to schools that lack libraries or have underfunded libraries and neighborhoods that do not have libraries, all the while providing access to the differently-abled. The bookmobile concept is not a new one, but in the United States the use of mobile libraries has not been utilized in a way to bring services to diverse and underserved populations. Adopting a MOLLY®-type of mobile library will allow library services to reach those who would benefit from library resources but for whom it is currently inaccessible. From providing books and internet access to economically stressed populations to allowing atypical users, who are mentally-challenged and whose needs for books are often overlooked, access to materials, a MOLLY®-type of mobile library has the ability to change lives by bringing library collections and services out into local communities instead of waiting fruitlessly for those populations to make their way into the bricks and mortar libraries.

While public areas in the United States are relatively accessible to the disabled overall, the modifications in public areas are often to assist people in wheelchairs or for the blind. Following MOLLY®’s lead, American libraries can begin to add modifications for adults and children with sensory issues and for people on the autism spectrum. Libraries should have specialized rooms with comfortable lighting, inviting colors, and soothing sounds specifically designed for people with sensory needs.

Many American libraries could learn how to exercise patience from global practices. Looking at library practices from around the world, including MOLLY®, it is clear that patience is a priority because of the wide range of communities that they serve. Communities are diverse in nature and not every community has had the experience of visiting a library or even reading books. Taking the time to carefully show inexperienced patrons how to use the different facilities that a library offers, even something as simple as how to use a self-checkout machine, requires patience and understanding, both of which are important in designing and providing services for diverse populations.

Chan, K. (2009). MOLLY®, When Will You Come Again? : A mobile library service for the less privileged. Urban Library Journal, 15(02). doi: 10.31641/ulj150201

Differing Information Search Strategies by Japanese and Finnish Cultures

Reviewed By: Esther Chun, Amaris Mang, Tiffany Muñoz, Lisa Salyer, Kyle Shin, and Nhu-y Tran

Link to article:

Introduction and Synopsis
When one needs medical advice for weight loss and weight management, usually the first place most people turn to is the Internet. This is what it seems for the American culture, at least, but are the searching habits the same for all people from different cultures and different places, especially for those that exist outside of the United States? Do all individuals seek out information in the same way, and are there any differences when the subject is one of a highly personal nature? Do those international cultural differences show? This is the subject in Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari’s (2010) article titled “Cultural Differences in the Health Information Environments and Practices Between Finnish and Japanese University Students.”

International Perspective
The article represents an international perspective because it is focused on examining the cultural differences between university students from Finland and Japan who utilize the Internet in a technologically advanced health information environment. Since authors have ancestry from the two studied countries, the article presents a different perspective in understanding information-seeking behaviors and environments than strictly relying on an American perspective. Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari (2010) also noted in the introduction that it is more international than the previous study that inspired the current study in that the previous study was focused on the Finnish students’ information seeking processes.

Core Research Question
What are cultural differences in the health information environments and practices between Finnish and Japanese university students? How are the sources identified? Are they relevant to the main topic of the study? What are the limitations of the study?

To assess the health information-seeking behaviors of first-year university students in Finland and Japan, Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari (2010) decided to look closely at two of the four different modes presented by McKenzie (2003): active seeking, which “refers to situations in which a person looks for information with a particular question in mind,” and encountering, which “refers [to] situations in which a person comes across health information … by chance” (p. 26). The selected participants, who all had easy access to the Internet, were emailed a link to a questionnaire. It was originally written in Finnish, translated to English, and then Japanese. In this survey, students were first asked for some background information regarding age, sex, health status, Internet skills, and average time spent on the Internet each week. After answering additional questions about their preferences for web-based information sources, participants were either brought to the end or asked to continue on. The two questionnaires (one in Finnish and one in Japanese) differed in some areas, so there may be some inconsistencies with merging similar answers.

Findings and Conclusion
Research done by Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari (2010) reflected the health information environments and practices between Finnish and Japanese university students. The study focused
on web-based and non-web-based forms of information-seeking behaviors of Finnish and Japanese university students. Data for the study was collected utilizing a web-based survey targeting first-year Japanese and Finnish students. A total of 371 students comprising of 19.4% Japanese students and 81.6% Finnish students were studied. The age range of the students were 18 to 22 years old. Women comprised the majority of the study with 71% Finnish women and 68% Japanese women (Askola, Atsushi, & Huotari, 2010). Results of the study showed that Japanese participants tended to seek health-related information mainly from family members rather than the web, while Finnish participants sought health-related information from the web and from medical professionals. The study indicated the cultural differences between the two groups as the reason for the difference in information-seeking behaviors. The Japanese tended to be more family-centric, thus, trusted health information from family members for minor health matters and sought medical professionals for only serious health matters, while the Finnish tended to rely on healthcare professionals even for minor health problems.

What American Libraries Can Learn From Global Practice
Through international examinations, analyses, and studies conducted via a global perspective, American libraries can learn effective practices that serve to enhance user experiences, particularly with diverse populations, and create a more inclusive and productive platform for information searching. As emphasized throughout the article, the existence of cultural differences creates idiosyncratic search processes. However, the ways in which these distinctions manifest themselves in information-seeking behaviors/patterns serve as a determinant for American libraries to analyze and subsequently implement inclusive practices within system processes, which serve to create a more effective, inclusive, and equitable information environment. For instance, it would prove beneficial for American libraries to consider the ways in which cultural, social, and personal factors such as age, sex, literacy, and ethnicity directly or indirectly affect information patterns/tendencies and seek to provide relevant and inclusive applications such as enhanced language-based opportunities/programming, technological literacy assistance, and culturally relevant works and processes that impact information searching as is represented through Finnish and Japanese students. The distinct juxtapositions between the groups and the results serve to emphasize not only the ways in which these cultural differences complicate notions and processes of information-seeking behavior, but produce applicable and internationally relevant questions such as, “How can information organizations and information professionals alike objectively and effectively utilize and subsequently implement these revelations so as to enhance the experience of diverse users while simultaneously championing equitable information dissemination and access?” As information professionals recognize and embrace that in which information-seeking behaviors are subject to the idiosyncrasies of human culture with distinct associations to ethnic, cultural, social, and geographical factors, opportunities to create and implement inclusive opportunities that seek to serve all populations and reconcile the limitations of standardized and homogenous approaches to information searching.

In Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari (2010) article, the researchers wanted to know if the information-seeking behaviors varied between Japanese and Finnish university students. It is important to note that there have been studies that showed differences in information-seeking habits based upon different criteria, such as the gender or the levels of education, but there was limited information regarding different searching habits of diverse cultures. In their research, Askola, Atsushi, and Huotari (2010) found distinctly different information searching strategies between these two cultural groups. Also, by “having ancestry” to the two countries, provided the international perspective and this helped in adding validity of their results. Ultimately, their findings will help educate American libraries to use more effective and inclusive practices when serving more diverse patrons. As a result, libraries will be better able to serve all patrons by incorporating elements that better serve their more diverse audiences, and that go beyond the “standardized and homogenous” searching methods that have been historically adopted by most informational organizations.

Askola, K., Atsushi, T., & Huotari, M-L. (2010). Cultural differences in the health information environments and practices between Finnish and Japanese university students. Information Research, 15(4). Retrieved from 4/paper451.html

McKenzie, P. J. (2003). A model of information practices in accounts of everyday-life information seeking. Journal of Documentation, 59(1), 19-40. doi:10.1108/00220410310457993

Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective

Reviewed By: Traci Willard, Maida Paxton, Amanda Mellor, Maria McCord, Alyssa Key, and Annie Andrew

Link to article:

Article synopsis:

In their 2018 article “Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective,” authors Sambo and Ojei investigate incarcerated women’s information needs in Nigeria’s South-South prisons. The study used a descriptive survey and interviews by prison staff to determine incarcerated women’s information needs in the South-South prison system and how those needs were being met. Sambo and Ojei found that the incarcerated women had generally not received education beyond secondary school. Previous research studies demonstrate the importance of educating prisoners so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives in prison and especially upon release. This study determined that the prisoners faced multiple problems including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, lack of access to healthcare and medical information, and lack of time for interaction with family and friends outside the prison. The women did not feel their information needs were being met. The incarcerated women were especially eager for more medical information and information about prison security; and most women surveyed found the prison’s library was not adequately meeting their information needs. Thus, the authors conclude that there are various improvements that can be made to the conditions in women’s prisons in Nigeria to ensure prisoners’ information needs are being met; especially when it comes to incarcerated women’s needs involving better and more comprehensive medical information, contraception, and people and resources outside of prison.

Description of how this article represents an international perspective:

This article provides an international perspective from outside of the United States by focusing on incarcerated women’ information needs in Nigeria at South-South Prison, among other regional prisons. It offers an opportunity to observe how this population’s information needs are impacted by their marginalized position within their country, as well as their country’s unique position in the world. Although Nigeria is considered a developing country, the universal information needs and personal challenges identified by respondents likely mirror those of incarcerated women in developed countries like the United States (Investopedia, 2019). Consequently, the international perspective this research offers can point to new ideas for providing programs and policies that meet incarcerated women’s information needs in the U.S.

Core research questions:

The authors identified the following research questions they sought to answer through their surveys and interviews:

1. What are the information needs of the women in prison?
2. What are the condition of the South-South prison libraries?
3. To what extent are the South-South prison libraries meeting the information needs of women prisoners?
4. What are the challenges confronting women in prison?

(Sambo & Ojei, 2018, p. 3)

Combined, these questions point to research that will lead to a broader understanding of the information landscape in the prisons profiled as well as the corresponding information needs, behaviors, and challenges of the women in this setting.

Methods used to answer the research questions:

The research methodology involved the researchers providing a descriptive survey questionnaire to 356 inmates in six prisons throughout the country. The option for an interview was available, led by three research assistants who were also employed as prison staff. However, it is unclear which prisons the research assistants were located at or how many interviews were conducted. Survey respondents were selected using purposive sampling, which according to Babbie (2016), is when those selected are anticipated to “be the most useful or representative” of the research goal (p. 187). Data collected from the 306 completed surveys were analyzed using inferential statistics, which suggests the findings derived from the sample are representative of the general population of incarcerated women in Nigeria. The researchers were successful in attaining a high response rate of 86%, determined using percentages, which reduced non-response bias.

Findings and conclusions:

The questionnaires and interviews Sambo and Ojei (2018) conducted indicate the top information needs of women incarcerated in the prisons were medical, education, and security information, with nearly all respondents (98%, 97%, and 97%, respectively) selecting these topics as information needs (p. 8-9). Other information that was prioritized by respondents related to life after prison, spiritual and moral information, and financial information. Respondents indicated they most frequently accessed information through counselling (73%), family and friends (67%), church or mosque (67%), and physicians or nurses (58%). Prison libraries were counted as one of the least used ways of meeting information needs with only 14% of respondents claiming to use the library as an information resource (p. 9-10). This finding is unsurprising considering that 70% of respondents indicated their prison library was “inadequate” for meeting their needs (p. 9). Respondents reported several problems facing them in prison. The most frequently reported problems were congestion and lack of hygiene, poor funding, and lack of medication and healthcare (p. 10).

Sambo and Ojei (2018) drew several conclusions based on the comprehensive data from their study. They concluded that there was a need to improve information access in these prisons, including a need for improved prison policies and programs by federal, state, and local governments, particularly those that are “specifically tailored to the needs of women” (p. 11). They recommended equitable access to health care and resources, confidentiality, preventative medicine, and vocational training. They acknowledged that if prison libraries could meet more of these needs, women would be more prepared to integrate into society upon release.

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

American libraries can obtain a greater understanding of the issues other libraries face and learn about global practices by reading about research conducted in other countries. By learning about issues with prison libraries and prisoners’ needs in Nigeria, American libraries can expand their research to determine whether their prison populations have the same information needs and library resource deficits. Sambo and Ojei found that incarcerated women in Nigeria had many unmet information needs and the prison library resources were inadequate, which may overlap with prisoners’ experiences worldwide. By working collaboratively, librarians worldwide can identify universal issues, share creative solutions, expand their professional network, and work to improve services for incarcerated women desperately in need of high-quality, accurate, and timely information resources.


Babbie, E. (2016). The practice of social research (14th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Investopedia. (2019, August 2). Top 25 developed and developing countries. Retrieved from
Sambo, A. S. & Ojei, N. L. (2018). Women in prison and their information needs: South-South prison libraries perspective. Library Philosophy and Practice, 1640, 1-14. Retrieved from

Decolonizing Our Library System: The Living Librarians (Baansi) of Dagbon, Northern Ghana

Reviewed By: Estefani Bowline, Diego Coaguila, Solia Martinez-Jacobs, Angelina Moiso, Yesenia Navarrete, Nicole Norman

Link to article:

Synopsis and article representation of international perspective
Decolonizing Our Library System: The Living Librarians (Baansi) of Dagbon, Northern Ghana explores the knowledge production and transmission of the baansi, who are “termed living librarians”, while drawing a contrast to Western systems and ideas. Plockey and Ahamed (2016) introduce the concept of “library” in indigenous cultures as one not established through books or computers, but instead through music and performance as information. This article introduces us to the baansi of Dagbon, who are indigenous court musicians in northern Ghana. As such, they have historically sang praises to royals in this region Through their songs and instruments, they carry on important cultural knowledge, history, and traditions, which is thus passed down to generations. This study uses interviews, group discussion and other qualitative techniques to gather information from baansi on aspects such as the role and categories of baansi. The study concludes by asserting that the baansi, as living librarians, hold the history of Dagbon in their memory. This study offers an international perspective by focusing their exploration on indigenous musicians of Ghana. At the same time, the researchers, who are Ghanaian themselves, draw a contrast with traditional Western views of libraries and knowledge production, asserting oral traditions and indigenous people as living libraries.

Core research question(s)
Plockey and Ahamed (2016) point to previous research regarding information existing in other forms besides our modern understanding of libraries. Indigenous cultures, in particular, are exemplary of these models of information sharing, due to long-standing structured oral tradition, where individuals themselves stand in for documentation and repositories. The term “living librarian” is explored to a degree in this paper, with examples outlined through the explicit exploration of the categorization of the baansi. Other research questions explored through the article include, “the categories of the baansi ; the role of the baansi and Knowledge acquisition process of the baansi” (p. 3). The article also examines the way in which the baansi produce knowledge and disseminate it amongst others within the community. Plockey and Ahamed further elaborate on the baansi by seeking out their origins, the relationships between these information keepers and the ways in which their specified tools – the instruments – organize and categorize the information being shared. The article also challenges preconceived notions of information literacy and organization, ultimately considering whether or not the baansi should be considered librarians.
Methods used to answer the research question(s).
The researchers used a mixed-methods approach, including ethnography, historical analysis, and community focus groups, to their study of the baansi of Dagbon. Their results are discussed thematically around the three “most recognized and important” categories of baansi (p. 4). This limited the study population to the Lunsi, the Akarima and the Goonje in the Yensi Municipal District in Ghana.
Each category of baansi is studied in-depth using “focus group discussions, observations, storytelling, phased assertion, documents’ analysis, field notes, historical profiling, and acoustic appreciation” (Plockey & Ahamed, 2016). Information was collected over a one-year period to build an understanding of the baansi’s role in the community, their historical origins, how their knowledge was acquired, and how they provide access to the information to their community through music. The study also noted the differences in types of musical instruments used by each category of the baansi, and how some instruments are gendered as male or female by their pitch. It is important to note that this portion of the study only encompasses the categories of the baansi and their classifications, and does not analyze the information retained by the baansi, however
Findings and conclusions.
Plockey and Ahamed (2016) sought to disprove the Western idea that African tribal communities do not create and store information by highlighting the rich oral traditions of these communities. The authors found that the drumming class they examined, the baansi, actually held all of the tribe’s historical information and traditions, and disseminated that information through particular drumming patterns. As individuals who have and share knowledge, the baansi are unquestionably the “living librarians” of their communities. The authors also found that the baansi comprise several different subgroups of drummers, and that all of those subgroups perform a slightly different function. They discussed their finding that the lunsi, one of the baansi subgroups, communicate the most detailed history of the Dagbon people, and as such, are regarded as the most knowledgeable drumming group. This study supports the idea that information professionals need not be trained at a university or work in a library or office. Knowledge passed down through the ancestors and stored in the memories of those who share the past with present community members is just as important as any information stored in a book or database. Oral historians and disseminators of knowledge fill the role of librarian in Dagbon tribal communities.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations?
Libraries have the power to allow access of information to patrons that can allow them to not only better educate themselves, but to also create a better community for themselves. This power can be increased by providing library workers with support in implementing programs and resources that can then be offered to the community. The concept of “living librarians” and understanding orally-based cultures and societies are elements that American libraries could benefit from incorporating into their services. As cities continue to become more multicultural, libraries should make concerted efforts to meet patrons from diverse backgrounds in a way that shows care for the variety of modes in which information is shared around the world. American libraries could hold programming within the community utilizing the living library model. Organizations such as The Human Library utilize an oral history approach, by allowing people to ‘check-out’ individuals by having a conversation with them and listening to their stories. This valuable approach allows people to experience different viewpoints on issues, and could easily be adapted for libraries in American communities.

Plockey, F., & Ahamed, B. (2016). Decolonizing Our Library System: The Living Librarians (Baansi) of Dagbon, Northern Ghana. Retrieved from

Unjudge someone. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library by Valentina Ly

Reviewed By: Rebecca Ebert, Isaiah Espinoza, Katherine Hartrich, Ari Katz, Tiffany Rondon Roman

Link to article:

Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library by Valentina Ly

Article Synopsis:

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a large multilingual (ML) collection that is recognized for its diversity and has become highly lauded as an example to other libraries. The article examines the collection to determine if it is representative of the diverse population of Canada by using data collected from the online public access catalogue (Ly, 2018, p. 17). Besides English and French, Ly examines data from the collection’s top 17 non-official languages. Further data was gathering from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census. The results find that collection is not proportional to the population and considers why, the limitations of the study, and the unlikelihood of a public library building a collection that represents the diverse community. The TPL continues its efforts to represent the community through its ML collection by examining demographic shifts, assessment trends and employing a staff that speaks 34 of the 40 active languages in the collection (p. 28). Libraries from all regions can relate to the TPL’s struggle of building a collection in hopes of better serving the community that speaks the language of the majority and minority. Through networking with other libraries can they share their expertise and knowledge.

Based on Ly’s research, the following are a few core research questions:

How can libraries use census data to monitor population shifts and be responsive to the changing information needs of their communities?
How can large library systems make their collections proportional to the languages spoken within the community?
How can librarians improve relationships linguistic minority populations?
How can smaller libraries learn to develop multilingual collections, resources, and services?
How can libraries best stay aware of the changing demographics of their communities due to migration and globalization?
Is the size of each language collection equitable to the size of the minority language populations?
How many different language collections should be available at the library?
How many items should be available in each language collection?
What are the best formats for the materials based on the preferences of the minority language populations?
How can librarians build their multilingual collections and gather knowledge of other languages?

Methods used to answer the research questions:

In order to answer the research questions, the researchers used a range of data collected from: Statistics Canada 2016 Census of Population (language results), along with the data collected from their online public access catalogue in November 2017. From the latter, they collected all possible data from the available languages, studying more in-depth English, French and 17 more most spoken mother tongues. To compare these, they did the following: aligned the Toronto census division map with the TPL branch map and locations to make sure they were within the same geography divisions to confirm the census divisions were relevant to the TPL system. Then, they compared the data from the census with their own public access catalogue regarding the “mother tongue” and “language spoken most often at home” finding that these were the languages found both at TPL and OPAC (online public access catalogue) as most searched and advertised. In other words, they studied the geography boundaries of said population that spoke those languages according to the data; and also analyzed the languages that were usually more used, searched and advertised at TPL and OPAC.

Findings and conclusions:

The results of Ly’s (2018) case study found that TPL has a collection of items in 307 languages, yet most of these items were in the official languages of French and English. Although TPL collected for many languages, there were actually few items for these unofficial languages. Of the official languages, French was by far the best represented followed by English. Of the unofficial languages, Polish had the best representation of items and Tagalog the worst. Based on the 2016 census, this demonstrates that the TPL multilingual collection is disproportionate in representing Toronto’s population. This is critical as Toronto is Canada’s largest and most multicultural/multilingual city and twice as many immigrants use the TPL than Canadian-born patrons. Although the TPL has attempted to meet the multilingual needs of its immigrant population, their multilingual collection still falls short proportionally to the number and diversity of languages in the city. Ly (2018) recommends the TPL and other libraries apply census data to more accurately build a multilingual collection that better represents their diverse immigrants.

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

Ly’s use of data to inform analysis of the multilingual collection at TPL is a useful starting point for libraries seeking to understand how well their collection serves immigrants in their communities. However, the publication is also a reminder that quantitative analysis is never enough on its own to determine policy. While Ly compares the raw collection size in each language to census figures for speakers of each minority language, she never queries her initial assumption that these numbers should correlate. It would be important to start such a collection analysis with the question, do immigrant speakers of other languages want native language materials, and if so, what kind? It is possible that immigrants that come to a country would be more interested in borrowing local language materials so as to practice their language skills or read about local topics? Minority language interests may be limited to certain topics, rather than the full spectrum of English materials. In some languages, Tagalog for example, native speakers might rarely read that language. So while Ly demonstrates how to apply census data as part of a collection analysis, her article does connect the data to the actual needs of immigrant communities. Any library seeking to conduct such an analysis could start with Ly’s model, but must then also explore different groups’ reading habits and expectations.


Ly, V. (2018). Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 13(3), 17-31.