Topical network of breast cancer information in a Korean American online community: a semantic network analysis

Reviewed By: Lara Briscoe, Dina Doyan, Lydia McClanahan, Nicholas Perilli, Jacqueline Small

Link to article:

Article Synopsis and Core Research Questions –
This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the information seeking behaviors of the fastest growing Asian immigrant population in the USA, the Korean American. This study focuses on the information surrounding breast cancer, a leading cause of death and common cancer among women, that is available to Korean Americans through the most widely used website This website provides information on a variety of topics. Previous studies had found that online communications provide a better sense of health and well being, especially for immigrants who often feel isolated because of cultural differences and language barriers. The internet provides a supported environment to receive information. The researchers assert that no other study has been conducted using semantic network analysis and content analysis.
The questions that are being studied are “what topics are shared among Korean Americans who seek and share breast cancer information through online forum questions and correlative replies?, what are the most prominent topics among Korean Americans who seek and share breast cancer information online forum questions and correlative replies?, as well as what are the semantic associations between breast cancer questions and correlative replies?” (Park et al. 2016).

Methods used to Answer the Research Q’s –
Data was collected and analyzed using several methods. All the data used in the study was collected from the forum sections of the website MissyUSA. This data consisted of messages and responses relating to breast cancer posted by Korean immigrants on the forums in 2013 and 2014. After sifting through to find the responses that correlated most closely with the discussion of breast cancer—data analysis began.
Per the study, “The collected dataset was analyzed first using content analysis to answer research question one; then semantic network analysis was used to trace the semantic structures of the identified breast cancer related topics for research questions two and three” (Park et al. 2016). The method of content analysis was conducted by human coders using a coding schema to manually analyze questions and responses with the goal of identifying topics.
To reflect the uniqueness of information sharing regarding breast cancer among Korean Americans, researchers modified the coding system through a manual coding process. The content analysis results were then computed and the identified topics were recorded.
The method of semantic network analysis was then employed to examine structural features in terms of behavioral tendencies of Korean Americans who seek and share breast cancer information. Semantic network analysis included measures that were used to “capture the relational properties of the topical networks found in questions and correlative replies and then create a representation through visualization (Park et al. 2016). This allowed the relationships between the data and identified topics to become apparent.

Findings and Conclusions –

Park and Park(2016) found that Korean Americans/Korean immigrants have a critical need for forum discussions to find breast cancer information. Central topics according to the findings were treatment, symptoms, and emotional support. Overwhelmingly, while participants demonstrated a critical need for information regarding breast cancer tests they were primarily considered for diagnosis and treatment, not prevention. In general, because of socio-cultural, language, socio-economic, and geographic barriers, Korean Americans showed low rates of screening, health care and therefore, preventative measures for breast cancer. These factors illuminated patterns of need and concern in the information seeking behavior of participants even though they were not significant to the questions and replies in the forum discussion .
Several topics were not central to discussions, but evidenced strong associations for participant concern. These were issues of finance and insurance. Based on discussion questions, and replies, financial, insurance and other socio-economic factors were determined to impact the level of access to clinical services negatively. Inquiries of free breast cancer screenings indicate an area of concern for Korean Americans suspecting a problem of breast cancer. Lack of health insurance and recent immigrant status present obstacles for some that may need to seek health care services.In concluding, it was determined that in addition to analysis of online communities, more direct communication with Korean Americans is necessary to understand information seeking behavior.

Unanswered Questions/Future Research –

While this study is informative, there are various unanswered questions, which could be considered for further research purposes. For instance, the results of the study do not include those Korean Americans who do not have access to online technology. To reach out to those who do not have access to technology, the study could be completed online and through a tangible survey. Upon completion of both studies, the data could be merged, which would offer more indepth and accurate results. Likewise, although MissyUSA is a popular online community, it is online. One cannot be sure the participants were honest. Even though any survey could have discrepancies and cannot be considered completely accurate, a tangible survey could be an additional portion to the current study. Another variable to be considered to ensure more accuracy is including Korean American men who suffer from breast cancer. For those who lack health insurance, attempts could be made to contact health professionals. Perhaps, they would volunteer their time and credentials to these online health forums. Finally, the study did not state whether or not the participants were offered the research results. Considering providing the data to the participants could play an integral role in prompting Korean Americans to engage in health-care prevention practices.
There was one source that may not have been communicated in the conversations via the website but was mentioned in the article. Even though, connecting with other people who are similar to you in culture and language is useful to gain information about breast cancer or other medical concerns, it is always best to have access to experts in the field. While the usage of MissyUSA can be used for socializing about medical concerns, more accurate and reliable resources such as Medline Plus should be consulted. This site provides medical information in various languages, including the Korean language. The information available on this website is free to the public and can answer their questions in their own languages. (Danquah & Wu, 2013, p.244)
Additionally, sources that are available for the uninsured or low-income participants of the online discussion to get low-cost or free screenings came into question. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood a non-profit organization where the services are free or the Susan G. Komen Foundation which offers a Breast Care Helpline or email for more information. These organizations provide information and services to reduce the chances of breast cancer. Information about breast cancer is available, but it is up to the individual to seek it, from various sources. (Park & Park, 2016)


Danquah, L. E. & Wu, W. G. (2013). Librarian’s role as educators in promoting library
resources for multicultural patrons while advancing a national health initiative. In
C. Smallwood, & K. Becnel (Eds.), Library Services For Multicultural Patrons
(pp. 243-247). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Park, M.S. & Park, H. (2016). Topical network of breast cancer information in a Korean Americas online community: a semantic network analysis. Information Research, 21(4), paper 729. Retrieved from

Student engagement across cultures – Investigating lecture software.

Reviewed By: Whitney McCoy, Lea Ann McDonald, Amina McGensy, Mariah Sparks, Saidy Valdez, Brittany Vernon

Link to article:

In recent decades, the use of technology has grown exponentially and has contributed to rapidly increasing globalization. In education, instructional technologies have been incorporated from preschool through graduate school. Technology has the potential to increase learner engagement in the classroom and lead to better instructional outcomes. To work toward improving access to instructional technology for learners across the globe, it is important for educators and information professionals to consider whether culture has an effect on perceptions of technology in the classroom, and to incorporate instructional technologies using culturally-competent methods.

In 2014, Green, Sammons, and Swift conducted a study to see how learning software affects college students in different countries, and consequently, across cultures. The authors note that modern educators have found that the application of learning software in the classroom has produced more engaged students and better instructional outcomes. In order for student engagement to reach its peak, it must have behavioral, cognitive, and emotional dimensions. Student engagement coupled with active learning, which occurs when students are engaged with course content and new knowledge is added to existing knowledge, is what leads to the ideal classroom environment (Green, et. al., 2017, pp. 19).
The authors were interested in determining if the use of instructional technology results in different effects across cultures. Despite noting that the word “culture” has been difficult to define in the world of education (pp. 17), the authors elected to use 337 students from the United States and Singapore as subjects, to see if the potential differences in learning styles across cultures have any effect on the use of learning software in the classroom. The study found that location and culture play a significant role in student perceptions of classroom technology. The study results demonstrate that Singaporean students found that the lecture software stimulated their involvement in the class, which is a result that may be explained by the traditional teaching style found in Singapore’s classrooms. The authors ultimately conclude that the use of lecture software in the classroom is most beneficial when integrated properly into a specifically-designed classroom instructional strategy.

Core Research Questions

The authors posed the following central research questions in their study design:

Does use of lecture technology inspire deeper knowledge and engagement in course material?

Are there any differences in student engagement using technology between students in the U.S. and Singapore (pp. 19)?

Are there any differences between U.S. and Singaporean students when introduced to technology (e.g., lecture software) with regards to active learning, knowledge, involvement, and enjoyment of the instructional technology (pp. 19)?

What is the current best practice for integrating technology into the design of a lecture?

What are the differences that educators need to take into account when designing a technology-facilitated lecture that will be delivered across multiple cultures?


The study was conducted in 2014 at undergraduate hospitality colleges in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Singapore, with data collected in five U.S.-based and four Singapore-based classes. Of the 337 participants, slightly over half were from the United States, and over half of all the subjects were females between the ages of 18 and 24. There was no additional data collected regarding students’ cultures or ethnicities beyond their location of U.S. or Singapore. Of the six instructors, only one was based in Singapore, and the rest taught in the U.S. The classroom sizes varied between 30 and 60 students, and the instructors were required to have prior knowledge in applying technology to postsecondary curricula (pp. 19).
Teachers were trained in the lecture software before they used it in their classrooms (pp. 19). Instructors either taught their classes in computer labs, or students were able to bring their own laptops, and they “used the lecture software tool for presentations, polling questions, question slides, and attendance” (pp. 20). Teachers also uploaded PowerPoint presentations into the software, allowing them to incorporate interactive elements into the lecture. Students were instructed via email to download the software in order to view the content on their own computers. The study utilized the Student Engagement Survey (SES) instrument, which consists of 20 questions intended to measure the overall satisfaction regarding the technology used in the course. The survey focused on four constructs for evaluating the differences in technology-assisted learning styles in the U.S. and Singapore, including active learning, involvement, knowledge, and enjoyment. Students completed the SES after the final course lecture (pp. 20).


While there were “a few questions on the survey that showed no significant difference with regards to location” (pp. 21), the majority of the questions found significant evidence that “the culture in the location did matter” (pp. 22). For example, students in Singapore were more receptive to, engaged in, and appreciative of the lecture software than were the U.S. students, perhaps as a pushback to traditional hierarchical teacher/student cultural norms in Singapore. Furthermore, the study found that both groups of students appreciated the use of technology to facilitate interaction with their peers, but the Singaporean students particularly appreciated the anonymity of the polling tools, and were more likely to participate in the lecture knowing that their responses would be anonymous (pp. 22). The instructors offered their perspective of strengths and weaknesses of the instructional software in class, and although they did identify areas in need of improvement, they found that the design worked for their students. Green, Sammons, and Swift found that instructional design with assistive technology was generally beneficial to student learning, because their engagement improved and the students enjoyed using the technology. This was especially apparent among the Singaporean students.

Areas for Future Research

The overarching question addressed by this study asks if the use of learning technologies leads to a deeper and more enjoyable level of engagement for students across cultures, and the researchers were able to draw some general conclusions using the student survey data. The study could have been more evenly designed to compare the same classes offered with a similar number of students across both cultures. The two cultures that were compared frequently gave similar feedback, yet it is hard to fairly assess when more classes were studied in the U.S. than Singapore, and the classes covered different subject matter. Additionally, increasing the number of Singaporean instructors involved in the study would result in a more equitable research design. It is also worth noting that there may be a significant impact on a similar study’s outcome if the complex cultural backgrounds of U.S. students are considered, and/or the role that economic status has on student perceptions of technology; neither of these factors were included in Green, Sammons, and Swift’s research.
Some questions for future study on how technology enhances and engages students might include the following:

How does using interactive learning technology with varying cultures and genders affect student confidence, academic performance, and learning outcomes?

What current or emerging technologies can be employed to further engage students, allowing them to deepen their knowledge and gain skills that are relevant to their coursework and future careers?

How can educators and information professionals best design interactive and relevant coursework for multicultural students in which the technology offers an opportunity for both engagement and inclusion?

Some of the feedback from questions asked of the participants answered specific aspects of what made the enhanced learning more or less enjoyable. Many of the cons involved the technology feeling “clunky”, “stifl[ing] conversation”, or not working instantaneously (pp. 26). Conversely, the pros addressed the various ways in which students were able to interact and express themselves during a lecture which might otherwise become uninteresting, while creating opportunities for instructors to add relevant talking points (pp. 26). Technology is constantly changing, and the challenge is to design user-friendly software that does not intimidate new users or feel awkward to instructors or students, but rather adds to the experience through enriching the lecture experience and better connecting the students with one another, and with their instructor.


While the data gathered in this study revealed similar perceptions between U.S. and Singaporean students, there were significant differences that were strongly influenced by location and culture. Green, Sammons, and Swift point to a history in Southeast Asian cultures of a traditional student/teacher dynamic, where the teacher delivers information, and the student receives the information, his or her silence indicating respect (pp. 18). The authors postulate that these cultural norms had a multifaceted influence on the Singaporean students’ perceptions of the instructional technology. While the traditional lack of classroom interaction led to an appreciation for the anonymous aspects of the polling tools, the students also found that an interactive lecture was more interesting and enjoyable (pp. 22). This data suggests that cultural challenges and differences should be taken into account when designing classroom technology, in order to increase student adoption of technology, ensure comfort in the classroom, and improve learning outcomes through exposure to different instructional styles.

Green, A. J., Sammons, G., & Swift, A. (2017). “Student engagement
across cultures – Investigating lecture software.” Journal of
Teaching and Learning with Technology, 6(1), 15-30. Retrieved

The Right to Read: The How and Why of Supporting Intellectual Freedom for Teens

Reviewed By: Sarah Pace, Emily Phillips, David Fournier, Elysse Fink

Link to article:

It is not news that teenagers are developing and exploring their world. In her article, The Right to Read: The How and Why of Supporting Intellectual Freedom for Teens (2014), Emily Calkins shares her opinion on what perspective libraries ought to take concerning the intellectual freedom of teenagers:

“It’s not that caregivers should stop being involved in their children’s’ library use and
reading habits when their children reach adolescence. There may be times, however, when a young person wants or needs information to which her guardian might want to restrict access. Because of the developmental needs of adolescence and libraries’ commitment to intellectual freedom, libraries should support the intellectual freedom for teenagers rather than the right of guardians to control their children’s intellectual lives.”

Libraries have intellectual freedom in mind and in their very hearts. This fact is evident based on the ALA’s very own Library Bill of Rights. So it is that teens should be afforded the same rights. During those tumultuous years of adolescence, one is becoming sexually active and should be offered fair and honest information regarding the ins and outs of sex. This is just one example that highlights Calkin’s larger point–that information ought to be free and open to everyone and that a person or entity has no right to censor information. Sure a parent can discourage materials in their own house, but they cross a line by saying that other teens/adolescents cannot have access to this information thus limiting that groups’ intellectual freedom.

Method and Unanswered Questions-
Calkins is concerned in this essay with the ability of librarians to assist young adults in a time of personal growth. Establishing self-sufficiency and independence is a crucial rite of passage for young adults. Challenging and questioning the beliefs of their family and culture is an integral part of this, and is not something that can easily be done at home with parents watching their every move. Even more so, teens’ intellectual freedoms are limited when parents censor their information pursuits, so they must find a place in which they can safely fulfill that need.
Calkins only briefly touched on how “young adult” and “adolescent” are defined, footnoted at the end of the article. A first unanswered question would be to explore that concept more thoroughly from a psychological standpoint, as well as an informational one. Are the information needs of a 12 year old different than an 18 year old? How can the library acknowledge and support this difference?

Second, Calkins discusses library policy in regards to protecting the privacy of adolescents, suggesting several variations of library card policies and how they affect access. Are teen’s accounts private, or do caregivers have access to information about their teen’s check-outs? If so, then how are teens supposed to feel protected? A possible solution to this is an honor system collection by providing access to materials to teens that don’t need to be checked out with a library card. This allows teens to take out what may serve their information wants and needs without intimidation and embarrassment. The legal ramifications of these policies for the library, with regards to a minor being able to be the sole party responsible for an account which may have financial liabilities are not discussed. This is not a deal breaker for being able to offer young adults full privacy, but it is a very real legal reality that the library needs to be able to deal with.

A discussion of how to have conversations with parents regarding the privacy of their teens was also missing. Discussing these issues with the staff was brought up, but many of the suggested policies will greatly anger some parents, especially as these policies directly contradict their parental rights with most other institutions and may come as a surprise. How to approach these conversations in a calm, professional manner, with talking points on how to best support the library’s position, or at least resources on how to prepare for this would have been helpful.

A similar question, how do we talk to adolescents about their privacy rights in ways that are relevant and which connect with the realities of their lives was missing. Young adults will not read a policy brochure that lists their rights, and many of these ideas may be very foreign to some. How do we open this conversation in a meaningful way?

Calkins concludes by acknowledging that the theoretical side of intellectual freedom is often the easiest part; librarians agree not to censor materials and leave the decision-making about who can or can’t read something up to the patron or their guardian. But not wanting to leave it at that, Calkins outlines practical suggestions on how libraries can practically support intellectual freedom for teen patrons, beginning with due diligence: research and familiarize oneself on the library’s policies regarding minors. Next review the collection to see if it includes materials for a variety of patrons. Go a step further and train staff on intellectual freedom. Other creative (albeit not fully researched) suggestions put forth were to develop an “honor system collection” for Teen Self Help titles and to partner with community organizations to promote intellectual freedom and access to information. Relatively simple steps for a librarian that could make a huge difference in a teen’s life.

But Then You Have to Make It Happen

Reviewed By: Marta Brandes-Miesner, Cynthia DiZazzo, Andrea Hayden, Angelo Hjelm, Nathalie Hrizi

Link to article:

Promoting Diversity in the Field of Information Science

In But Then You Have To Make It Happen, Williams and Van Arnhem describe their experiences as historically underrepresented individuals in the LIS field and define ways to further promote diversity within the profession. As people who have encountered racism and sexism in the workplace, the authors state their “interest in diversity is personal and stems from the acknowledgement of the intuitive need for a conscious effort to act and operate in a way that promotes diversity” (Williams & Van Arnhem, 2015). One way those in the LIS field can advocate for change, according to the authors, is by internalizing support for diversity and inclusion on an individual level, including being willing to face uncomfortable situations. The authors communicate libraries’ responsibility to serve students of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic levels by advocating for diversity education and inclusive practices through outreach to high school and university students. Projects to this end include providing access to technology and arranging information literacy workshops for students in the community, donating school supplies, and implementing student advisory boards. In their conclusion, the authors state “diversity and inclusion must be supported and championed to remove barriers and encourage participation” (Williams & Van Arnhem, 2015) and, while they note that some of their ideas seem simple, it is far more important that these strategies are doable.

Coming from a place of both experience and grassroots activity, the authors discuss opportunities and strategies for building diversity and inclusion in the LIS workplace. They begin by recommending an open climate, establishing an environment for dialogue, and leading by example. Reminiscent of Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you want to see,” this is exactly what Williams and van Arnhem propose.

The authors emphasize the need to maintain diversity in our workforce to be a thriving, civilized, and just environment. One reason we need to maintain a diverse workplace is that patrons need to see employees who are reflective of their own race, ethnicity, culture, and even age. Employing and promoting staff members who come from all backgrounds and cultures is not just beneficial for the diverse viewpoints and contributions to innovation, but also creates an atmosphere of approachability, respect, and appreciation for others. The community needs to see people similar to themselves thriving and succeeding, especially in the area of technology. Women and people of color must be equally represented in the computer science and STEM fields if we desire to pursue innovation and achieve our goals. Competitive salaries and benefits packages are important for maintaining a diverse workforce but is not always possible in the public sector. Thus, they recommend recognition of accomplishments, achievements, and performance, encouraging staff to take on projects of interest while giving them release time to do so. They propose promoting professional staff development and even financial incentives for staff to further their education.

The thought-provoking article generated some interesting questions for our group. These included:
What are some ways the authors might try to further evidence their study?
Why would a variety, or diversity, of views be beneficial to a library?
How does economic diversity play a role in this study?
How is diversity related to the digital divide?
Why is the discussion of diversity so critical to cultural competency?
What can we, as library staff members, do to combat some of the harm being done by negative stereotypes and a lack of recognition and appreciation for diverse staff members?
As members of the “lower echelon” of the library bureaucracy, how can we affect changes to systemic and institutional discrimination?

Rather than address all the questions this articles raised, we chose two to explore and encourage readers to try their hand and comment on some of the questions we raised and didn’t answer.

What are some ways the authors might try to further evidence their study?

Measuring diversity can be elusive but the authors of this study wisely used open dialogue, a different way to quantify diversity that can be easily tracked. The authors might try to further evidence their study with surveys from both internal and external sources, productivity analytics, and by repeating their study at different information organizations. This question reveals an important aspect of diversity. It shows that if evidence can prove that those organizations which practice open dialogue improve morale and productivity, then expanding diversity is not about token acceptance but rather about improving the lives of all people in very measurable ways.

What can we, as library staff members, do to combat some of the harm being done by negative stereotypes and a lack of recognition and appreciation for diverse staff members?

Williams and Van Arnhem cite Bartlett’s work regarding mentoring as one way to empower female librarians and librarians from oppressed races or ethnicities. Established library staff members can seek out these relationships with new information professionals.

Durrani (1999) argues for the building of Black Librarianship. Black Librarianship is structural and requires libraries to shift administrative policies and approaches. This includes encouraging self-empowerment of Black staff and involving the community in decision making. Information professionals and librarians can make contributions to Black Librarianship by shifting the established culture of social exclusion. They can change their demeanor toward, perceptions of and interactions with Black librarians and LIS students, for example. The combined approach that combats structural oppression as well as challenges LIS professionals to confront their social training and take responsibility for transforming the library environment is a useful approach that can address not only racism but other forms of discrimination and structural oppression as well.

For a graphic version of our post, copy and paste the following link:

Durrani, S. (1999). Black communities and information workers in search of social justice. New Library World, 100(6), 26-279. DOI: 10.1108/03074809910290567

Williams III, James, & Van Arnhem, J. (2015). But Then You Have to Make It Happen. Code4Lib, (28), 2015-04-15. Retrieved from

A critical take on OER practices: Interrogating commercialization, colonialism, and content

Reviewed By: Nichole Bonaventure-Larson, Bryan Duran, Mia Faulk, Ursula Lara, and Carlee Osburn

Link to article:

Article Synopsis and Core Questions
Sarah Crissinger’s 2015 article is concerned with critiquing Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access (OA) in relation to commercialization, colonialism, content, and the changing landscape of the university when it comes to adjunct versus tenured faculty. In her critique, Crissinger address issues of labor, the corporatization of higher education, oppressive learning formats, imperialism, and technocratic discourse around development and the information poor in the context of OER and OA.
Sarah Crissinger’s 2015 article is concerned with critiquing Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Access (OA) in relation to commercialization, colonialism, content, and the changing landscape of the university when it comes to adjunct versus tenured faculty. In her critique, Crissinger address issues of labor, the corporatization of higher education, oppressive learning formats, imperialism, and technocratic discourse around development and the information poor in the context of OER and OA.
While libraries around the country are pushing for free resources such as OER and OA, Crissinger urges librarians to pay closer attention to contextualizing content rather than just collecting content in what can potentially become an educational “dump”. Crissinger (2015) writes, “A learning object with relevant context, an application that is not culture-specific, and the capacity to be truly localized and understood is more important than a learning object that is simply free.” At the same time, as universities are increasingly relying on part time / adjunct faculty who are urged to contribute to OER, an issue of labor inequality arises. Since unlike tenured faculty, adjuncts are not compensated for their research but instead by the number of classes they teach.

Answering Research Questions
Crissinger uses existing critiques of OER and OA by Drabinski, et al. (2015), Cheney (2015), Shirazi (2015), Winn (2012), Burkett (2000), and Christen (2011), to answer her research questions. She determined it was best to explore OA along with OER considering they both share similarities that allow lessons learned to be applied to both. Crissinger uses critiques to explore the issue of labor, the tenure structure, and the unwillingness of universities to fund projects they are willing to promote. Crissinger analyzes critiques that explore oppressive learning formats, economic and social inequality, the “information poor” and the digital divide. Through these critiques Crissinger can reflect on OER practices.

Findings and Conclusions
Per Crissinger, access to OER is not the be all, end all. Simply increasing one’s access does not make them more knowledgeable or eradicate a digital divide. Social and global inequality cannot be reduced to a simple fix and access to OER. “Free and unrestricted access to OER is just one step in improving education, not the primary solution. Librarians are apt to do the integral work of reframing and complicating the OER movement. Our extensive understanding of copyright, instructional design, and discovery, combined with our interest in social justice, makes us natural leaders for helping others understand why Open Education matters” (24). Increasing the number of adjunct positions results in change to the labor system and the continued commercialization of higher education since adjuncts are paid per the number of classes they teach rather than the research they produce. “We must think critically about whether our open work is doing the social justice, political work we envision it doing. If we fail to ask these questions, we risk endorsing programs that align more with profit than with access” (10). Taking into consideration the goal of many academic libraries is to further the mission of their universities, we must consider how the marketization of OER compromises our ability to do the work we claim to value. “The politics of our campuses or leadership can limit how loudly our voices carry within our institutions (Acccardi, 2015). Still, our critical perspective is needed now more than ever” (Crissinger, 24).

Unaswered Questions and Future Research
Crissinger proposes some interesting further research at the end of her piece, but even these ideas did not touch on the potential for further research raised by her article. One of the considerations she mentions is the consideration of how librarians can better determine if an OER resource is one which provides good information and content, with context, or if it is not. This could be further expounded upon through research into a universal guide or standard set. Additionally, Crissinger discusses encouraging open pedagogy on campus. Crissinger (2015) states, “if faculty on campus are not integrating open pedagogy into their classrooms, it can be more difficult for librarians to do this as well.” Are there ways to combat this besides increased advertising and teaching? Would inclusion of OER in academic goals from an administrative position be possible? Lastly, one of the arguments mentioned, but not touched on, is the inclusion of a broader range of creators in the OER sphere. Crissinger (2015) quotes, “‘content creation…on the Web is currently heavily dominated by the developed and English-speaking world.”. How can librarians help to encourage the development of use of OER that is more inclusive, as well as more contextually focused and not an “information dump”? Is this a librarian’s role, and if so, how could this kind of expansion better serve the purpose of OER and academic research in the long run?

Answering Our Own Questions
Unfortunately, these questions are not easily answered. However, conducting further research on OER and OA would be a good starting point and may help to find the answers to our questions. Incorporating other viewpoints, ideas, and examples of how librarians are creating, sharing, and using OER/OA may help illustrate what their role is in promoting inclusion amongst contributors in the OER/OA sphere. Additionally, we can find the answers to our questions by doing what was suggested earlier; asking those questions aloud and as often as possible. We cannot expect to find answers and meet the challenges of OER/OA if we are not engaging in open and constructive dialogue with our peers and colleagues around the world. It is only after we have asked our questions aloud and engaged in collaborative dialogue that we will be able to give concrete answers, and move forward with making OER/OA accessible to everyone without devaluing information, the work of OER/OA contributors, and its content.

Crissinger, S. (2015, October 21). A critical take on OER practices: Interrogating commercialization, colonialism, and content. Retrieved from In the library with the lead pipe:

Examining Factors Predicting Students’ Digital Competence

Reviewed By: Reviewed by Natalie Enright, Chelsea Maradiaga, Bracha Schefres and Angela Yam

Link to article:

Article synopsis and core research question
In the research article “Examining Factors Predicting Students’ Digital Competence,” Hatlevik, Guðmundsdóttir, and Loi are interested in determining how users process information and to what extent are technological skills acquired. This paper addresses the levels of familiarity and understanding of information and communication technology (ICT) as assessed among Norwegian ninth grade students. Digital competence is defined as “the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that make learners able to use digital media for participation, work, and problem solving, independently and in collaboration with others in a critical, responsible, and creative manner.” (Hatlevik, Guðmundsdóttir, & Loi, 2015, p. 124) Due to the increasing variety of technologies in the daily lives of users around the world, this 2015 study holds an important role in analyzing digital literacy and how people acquire the relevant skillsets.
Three factors are identified as shaping the diverse technological experiences of students following the research results: digital competence, mastery orientation, and family background. Mastery orientation refers to how one’s attitude and actions approach learning or performance-related activities, while family background covers cultural, social, and economic demographic indicators. Eight hypotheses were formulated to frame the relationships between cultural capital, language at home, strategic use of information, academic achievements, and predicted digital competence.
Global efforts toward advocating and promoting digital competence aim to not only make technological tools more accessible for users to meet information needs, but they also encourage the lifelong development of online equity, self-representation, and exchange of information.

Methods used to answer the research question.
For this study a cross-sectional survey was used to analyze the data collected from a survey given to one class of 9th graders chosen by each of the 150 schools contacted to participate. The study was conducted in 2013. Potential participating schools were contacted using mail, e-mail, and by phone. “The final sample for this study was made of 852 students from 38 participating schools. The response rate at the school level was 25.3%” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 127). There was no replacement for schools who did not participate.

The questions for the survey were comprised of themes based on the learning objectives for the completion of 10th grade. The themes included: “five questions about digital responsibility, three questions about digital communication, eight questions about how to retrieve and handle digital information, and ten questions about how to create and process digital information” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 127).
Students were then asked how many books they had at home. The data collected from this part of a self-report questionnaire was used to establish cultural capital. Other answers to the self-report questionnaire were used to determine language integration and mastery orientation for each student. Three questions were asked to measure mastery orientation using Likert-type agree-disagree scale, ranging from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree. Results showed a score of 0.87 suggesting a high level of consistency. “The scale of marks/grades are 1(the lowest mark), 2, 3,4, 5 and 6 (the highest mark)” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 127).
The comparative fit index (CFI) and the Tucker-Lewis fit index (TLI) are the two indices that were used to evaluate the fit of the model with the hypotheses. In order to estimate the misspecification of the model, the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) was calculated. (Hatlevik et al., 2015)
Finally,, a national database, indicated that on an average there were 2.19 (sd 0.71) students at each computer in the schools that participated in the study” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 128).

Findings and conclusions
The study found that 2.5% of students had no books, 10.2% had 1-10 books, 15.9% had 11-50 books, 15.4% had 51-100 books, 22.2% had 101-250 books, 17% had 251-500 books and 16.8% had more than 500 books. For languages spoken at home, studies found that 83.3% of students spoke Norwegian and 16.7% spoke another language other than Norwegian or combined with Norwegian.
The results from the theoretical model were statistically significant, however there were two questions which measured digital competence that had to be removed due to the factor loading falling below 0.20 and a new analysis was run. It showed acceptable results with values of CFI = 0.947, TLI = 0.943, and the RMSEA = 0.024 [LO 90 = 0.020 and HI 90 = 0.027].
An analysis of the theoretical model that was developed with eight hypotheses shows that all hypotheses are supported. From the structural equation modelling (SEM) approach, the study found that “students’ cultural capital and language integration at home is positively related“ (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 132) which has a positive forecast to digital competence. Looking at both of the student’s mastery orientation and previous achievements also provides positive outlooks to digital competence.
Limitations of this study includes having a response rate of 25.3% at the school level, schools and students with positive interactions towards technology could be overrepresented, and self-selection bias. However, there were variations between students’ digital competence, therefore it seems that there is a diverse sample of student participation.
This study’s findings shows diversity amongst the students regarding digital competence which is also supported by many national tests involving reading, mathematics, science and information literacy. It is up to the school leaders and teachers to identify the diversity in their students’ digital competence and take action to improve their student’s digital competence. They have to also take note that a student’s family background, previous achievements in school, and mastery orientation are related to their digital competence. Teachers would need to be aware of these factors when they are planning and conducting teaching, and helping students to develop adaptive methods for information use. “Digital skills and competence requires hard work and persistence as does developing other key competences such as reading, writing, or doing calculations.” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 133).

Unanswered questions and an attempt to answer them
The design of the test seems to evaluate a 9th grade students’ digital competence without the intervention of classroom instruction since students are tested on end of the year 10th grade material. If the test comprised of questions that were from the 9th grade curriculum or the test comprised of students who had just finished 10th grade, then the study would evaluate classroom instruction. However, to completely rule out the significance of classroom instruction on digital competence, a control group would need to be studied comprising of students who had just completed 10th grade and had been asked identical questions.
A second question that arises pertains to the use of quantity of books in the home as a measure of cultural capital. Understandably, the authors of the study wished to align their research that used books “in several other international studies” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 127), it is not considered to be sensitive or private information, and books can be counted fairly easily. However, in the 21st century this gauge may becoming less accurate as more people are moving away from print materials and towards digital books. It was not clear if the study included digital content as well. Perhaps a future study should address this issue and include digital as well as print material.
Finally, the study indicates that there is a positive correlation between cultural capital and language integration, factors that can be used as a proxy for student’s family background, as well as a student’s mastery in orientation is a positive prediction of digital competence. As such, the study recommends “more information about how teachers can help students to develop adaptive strategies for information use” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 132). This would suggest that the authors support culturally responsive teaching practices to mitigate factors that contribute to poor digital competence in students. While this may be true, it is important to note that the response rate was 25.3% at the school level. The study did not indicate if some of the schools were culturally diverse, lower academic performing, or were lower socioeconomic schools suggesting a possible poor test sample. The authors addressed this issue in the article noting that “nevertheless, the results from the study give insight into factors predicting digital competence” (Hatlevik et al., 2015, p. 133). Even so, the low response rate begs the question what results from a larger sample that includes all aspects of diversity would look like. It would be worthwhile to address these issues in further studies.

Hatlevik, O. E., Guðmundsdóttir, G. B., Loi, M. (2015). Examining factors predicting
students’ digital competence. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 14, 123-137. Retrieved from

Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery

Reviewed By: Liza Alvarez-Perez, Shiiyu Fujisaka, Tor-Elias Johnson, Michael Nicoloff, Adilene Rogers

Link to article:

Core Questions and Methods:
In their article “Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery,” Sadler and Bourg (2015) analyze scholarly research and commentary in the field of digital technology with respect to Shaowen Bardzell’s principles of feminist software interaction. Central in the discussion is the technological aspects of library discovery, which the authors define as the means by which “users search, explore, find, and interact with the information resources they need, particularly collections held by a library” and can encompass “search algorithms, library software, and online collections” (Sadler & Bourg, 2015, para. 3). The authors question the valuing of an idealized neutrality or objectivity in the design of digital systems and the corresponding devaluing of emotional and social consequences for users.
Sadler and Bourg (2015) review many of the biases in libraries and their classification systems, and when speaking of pluralism and self-disclosure in search they expose the shortfalls of the use of majority-rule as a definition of neutrality and present us with idea of neutral relevance as an oxymoron. The acute issue of sexism is addressed when speaking of the world of open software and participation in the production of technology, and how the notion of the need to recruit gender minorities and women might serve to reinforce the false narrative that they are not naturally inclined to such fields is a relevant observation. The authors lastly speak of embodiment in library interactions referring to the accessibility and usability of software.

Findings and Conclusions:
While we may think that search engines such as Google give us “neutral” search results, the article explains how the lack of pluralism and self-disclosure only gives us an illusion of neutrality. In order for search software to be neutral, there needs to be a particular concern with pluralism and self-disclosure so that it can yield results with more relevancy and significance. The way that Google has their algorithm now, for example, works by defining relevancy and significance by looking at what pages are linked most often when a certain subject is given. This leads to a functionality in which only the most clicked on pages are those that we see which often leads to catastrophic results. In this “majority rules” type of searching, it can be difficult to find information, especially for women and people of color as they do not make up the majority of users. Sadler and Bourg (2015) stress that libraries must keep these limitations in mind when educating the public about search neutrality and the rigid categorizing systems that are in place.
In discussing the production of library technology, Sadler and Bourg (2015) hypothesize that the environment in which software is created has an effect on the social nature of that software, once released to the wild. They write of “the open source software community [being] a notoriously sexist space,” and that the lack of women in these spaces is explained away by a rationale stating that women are “techno-phobic” while men are “techno-eager” (Sadler & Bourg, 2015, para. 16). Women, it is said, “are not naturally interested in technology and must be persuaded to participate” (Sadler & Bourg, 2015, para. 18). The authors level criticism at this narrative, the most obvious of which is the fact that there are multiple factors working against females wishing to work in tech. Hostility toward and harassment of women in the open-source coding environment is a primary factor pushing women away from software development, because it is a pursuit around which they have experienced trauma, not something they are incapable or fearful of doing. Consequently, there is a profound waste of talent from many technically skilled people who could make innovative contributions in the development of library software, but are denied the chance to do so for lack of fair compensation and a safe working environment.
Sadler and Bourg’s (2015) discussion of advocacy and embodiment in library interactions makes for provocative reading, even as it remains rather speculative at times. The notion of designing both physical libraries and digital information access systems for the range of human ability and physicality is firmly embedded in the discourse on library diversity. Sadler and Bourg advocate strongly for taking a user-centered approach in defining improvements and implementing them well, and extend this discussion of embodiment further to uncover other implicit biases embedded in library practice, particularly with regards to digitization. They cite an interview with the innovative historian Natalie Zemon Davis in which Davis discusses “the specific emotional connection she feels when touching physical artifacts, like books” (Sadler & Bourg, 2015, para. 22). Sadler and Bourg speculate that in the rush to digitize materials, librarians may eliminate the possibility of a medium-specific emotional response. Such a response is often deemed ancillary and unimportant to the process of engaging with a book or other object, but the authors point out that such an assumption reveals an implicit bias towards “thinking” and against “feeling.” This dichotomy proves to be artificial; Sadler and Bourg point out that we make choices as much with our emotional responses as with “rationality,” noting that “studies of people who have been truly divorced of their emotions on a neurological level…[show that they] become unable to make even simple decisions” (2015, para. 24). We can see, then, the ways that a classic feminist critique applies fully to HCI’s potential downplaying or elimination of emotional responses from the field of intellectual consideration, which in turn may foreclose discovery and production of certain forms of embodied knowledge as well as possibly mute the urge for advocacy that such embodied knowledge may provoke.

Unanswered Questions
Sadler and Bourg’s (2015) points about embodied knowledge and advocacy are well taken, and they are correct to raise concerns about the change in scholarship and knowledge production that might occur with digitization. That said, the concerns they raise would have benefited from a longer and more concrete discussion of how embodiment might be compensated for in the physical-to-digital transition. Their critique also falters due to implicit assumptions regarding the disembodying nature of digital media. The subjective emotional associations that Davis (the only direct source cited in their discussion) has with physical books cannot be universalized, and with a lack of cited evidence on the supposedly embodiment-alienating nature of digital materials, it is unclear whether digital materials can provoke embodied emotional responses just as easily as print materials. It does not appear that Sadler and Bourg would directly deny this given their goal maintaining space for emotional responses in digital archives, but the latter goal lies in tension with the argument expressed in the discussion of the interview with Davis. As a result, we left with a very incomplete picture of what, if anything, might be lost in the transition to digital formats and how to compensate for such a loss if it occurs.
Other questions arising from the paper are the ongoing search for solutions to the problems of inequity addressed by the authors. After highlighting the glaring flaws in library scholarship on the topic of search algorithms and subject categorization, they fall short of providing satisfactory options of recognizing biases and applying adequate feminist principles. Unfortunately, they only offer the dismissive and unrealistic idea of librarians and users serving to data mine information as the only option to combating commercial bias. Further research about the manipulation of supposed majority-rule results with the use of tactics such as Google bombs and those who control the majority would help to clarify just where and why search bias is created. And while the authors provide a clear delineation of social pressures preventing women from equitable participation in software development, future research about how poverty and disability can also impede other groups in the participation of technology creation would be of pertinent interest to the argument of bias in the technology production ecology. Finally, the conclusions that libraries and librarians can further support feminist research and agenda by not being neutral is a vague and conflicting suggestion with little direction for a more inclusive and optimal library of the future with less bias.

Final Thoughts
In applying feminist theory to the design, production, implementation, and use of digital systems in the library environment, Sadler and Bourg (2015) overturn the notion of digital neutrality and illuminate the emotionally and socially relevant nature of technology. Despite potentially dubious claims on the emotional risks of digitization, and a failure to propose improvements to the problems of bias in search algorithms and gender inequality in software development, the authors make a significant contribution in library scholarship by providing a model for feminist analysis of new technological developments. While the article may ultimately raise more questions than it answers, the questions themselves are important for continual evaluation of modern library practices.

Reference List
Sadler, B., & Bourg, C. (2015). Feminism and the future of library discovery. Code{4}lib, 28. Retrieved from

Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians

Reviewed By: Brianna Anderson, Jennifer Mays, Julie Smith, Michael Vinyard

Link to article:

Synopsis and Research Questions

Hart and Mfazo (2010) found that most of the research and literature on public library service for the LGBT community was done in North America. Because South Africa has a history of struggling to overcome discrimination, the authors saw the need for research on the topic specific to this geographic area. They also found that the LGBT community tended to be overlooked as a minority group with specific needs. Their goals were to determine librarians’ awareness of information needs and how well libraries met those needs.

The research project had three distinct questions. The first was whether or not gay and lesbian library users should be considered a special user group with particular information and reading needs. Second, they wanted to know if public library staff were aware of the human rights issues surrounding services to the LGBT community. Lastly, they wanted to know if the public libraries in South Africa were providing for the special needs of the LGBT community through their collections and information services.


To help answer the first research question, the authors performed a literature review. Answering the remaining two questions involved looking at the collection development policy for the library system and conducting a survey composed of four sections administered to the main librarian responsible for branch collection development at each branch.

The first three survey segments included personal information about the respondent, professional details regarding awareness of the collection development policy and criteria used to make selections, and questions regarding information services. In the fourth segment, the Likert scale was used to help the authors examine the personal views of librarians regarding the provision of resources and services to the LGBT community and how these views may impact library service.

Findings and Conclusions

While the authors concluded from their literature review that the “professional, philosophical and research literature” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 106) considers gays and lesbians a special user group, the survey of 69 Cape Town librarians revealed that only 55% “consciously consider” (p.103) this group when developing their collections.  Even though 79% agree that access for the gay and lesbian community is a human rights issue and 91.5% are aware of policies that mandate a diverse collection, only 29% of librarians who responded agree that an explicit statement should be made in the policy for this user group.  Thus, the authors concluded that overall, the librarians do not consider gays and lesbians a special user group.

The authors describe the findings on how Cape Town libraries meet the needs of gays and lesbians as “spotty” and suggest “librarians’ prejudices might affect services to LGBT people” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 107). Opinion regarding the provision of services was dependent on size and location of the library.  Only 15% of librarians agreed that the needs of gays and lesbians are met at the city and regional libraries, but 33% of community librarians believed they were meeting needs.  Services were provided in some locations but not the majority, and in many categories, the number of libraries that practice inclusion of gays and lesbians in their regular services is woefully inadequate.  Only 6 of the 69 responding librarians stated that they have community information and pamphlet files for gays and lesbians while 55% of those that have display boards dedicate space to gay and lesbian information.  Librarians in charge of collection development even admit to rejecting LGBT literature based on the perception that it is pornographic. The actual purchase of LGBT books averaged less than one per year and only three librarians reported subscribing to an LGBT magazine or newsletter.  Half of the librarians did not buy any materials for LGBT patrons and 23 of the librarians either could not or would not answer the question, which is contrary to how the librarians said they consider gays and lesbians in collection development.  Their acknowledgement of collection policy did not translate to purchasing decisions. Finally, only 20 librarians reported being approached with LGBT related questions within the last year but due to inadequate study design, the authors could not conclude whether the librarians were able to adequately help those patrons.  The low number of queries may be due to librarians’ lack of awareness of gay and lesbian information needs and the perception by gays and lesbians that librarians are not aware of their needs.

Questions and Future Research

There are a number of areas where future research will be necessary to have a more complete picture of the needs of LGBT patrons in Cape Town and whether those needs are being met. Hart and Mfazo (2010) state that, as a public service and embodying the South African Constitution, libraries should provide “service impartially, fairly, equitably, and without bias” (p. 99). Yet, as the study shows, these are not being provided. The survey showed that the librarians in the Cape Town Library System are self-censoring LGBT items from the library by not buying them, seeking them out, or displaying information regarding the LGBT community. This leads to one of the biggest questions: How can Cape Town, and similar libraries, use this information to change their systems to create an equitable LGBT collection that integrates and displays that collection alongside the existing one?

One of the biggest omissions in the research is on the LGBT community itself. The research conducted is merely on the library system serving this community with very little information about the LGBT community. It would be helpful to know what the LGBT community thinks about the Cape Town Library System’s collection and if they think it is pertinent or helpful to them. How do they view the library and librarians? Do they feel their information needs are being met?

This leads to another area that may need future research: what kinds of information does this community seek and are they finding what they need? An answer to this would help close the gap in the library services. The information that Hart and Mfazo (2010) present is a bit vague in regards to which kinds of materials and literature are in demand. Are these fiction, non-fiction, periodicals? It would be interesting to research what information and materials are physically on the shelf, instead of relying on the answers in a survey. In addition, for the libraries that do include LGBT materials, it would be beneficial to know where they are finding these materials and if these vendors could be put on the list of provincial selectors. Currently, many of the libraries in Cape Town are buying less than one LGBT book a year but the study couldn’t conclusively pinpoint as to why this is the case except to say that it was the librarians’ choice. Are there other factors involved besides possible self-censoring by librarians? One librarian commented that “the Provincial library provides material but no-one has ever suggested buying specifically for the gay community from COCT [City of Cape Town]” (Hart and Mfazo, 2010, p. 105). Perhaps this is a system-wide issue and not just a problem in branch libraries. Finally, this study focused on gays and lesbians, but the LGBTQ+ community is a broad of spectrum of people and further investigation on the variety of needs is warranted.


Unfortunately, Hart and Mfazo’s research showed that there is a definite gap in public library services to the LGBT communities of Cape Town. The library system has a lot of work to do to provide equitable services to their LGBT community. A review of library collection development policies may warrant the addition of purchasing and service considerations for this specific community. Librarians and staff would benefit from professional development and diversity training. This training would enable librarians and staff to better understand the need for information services for all people, as mandated by the South African Constitution.

Hart, G. and Mfazo, N. (2010). Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 76(2), 98-108. DOI: 10.7553/76-2-73

Legislation Without Empathy: Race and Ethnicity in LIS

Reviewed By: Christopher Diaz and Allison Hostler

Link to article:

Article Review

In the article, Legislation Without Empathy: Race and Ethnicity in LIS, Visconti examines the current status of diversity in the field of librarianship. Specifically he claims that ethnic and racial diversity is an “unresolved diversity issue in LIS,” acknowledging the concentration of the article on race rather than on the diversity of gender or sexual orientation in the library workplace.

The article begins with Visconti recounting a recent library leadership course that he took in which a slide show was presented that discussed “myths” about leadership in the library. During the lecture one slide in particular caught Visconti’s attention. The slide claimed that the idea that one has to be an old white male in order to obtain a leadership role in the library, was a myth. Visconti argues that this may in fact, not be a myth.

Visconti continues by remarking how there has been no growth in the diversity of library professionals in the past two decades. This is attributed to a “disconnect between official policy and our everyday practices.” Essentially, Visconti is stating that although many of our official institutions such as the ALA, have it in writing that their goal is to embrace and enhance a diverse workplace, the field of librarianship is not actually acting on this ideal.

In order to show the lack of growth within the field, Visconti used statistical data from the ALA from the 1990’s and compared it to recent data. The statistics he found supported his claim that there has been no growth in the diversity in the field of librarianship. The statistics also revealed just how unbalanced the diversity is. While African Americans and Hispanics make up 40% of the population, these groups don’t even make up 10% of librarians.

Visconti expands in this idea by noting the difference between diversity and inclusion. The author claims that although the institution of libraries has hired people of color, they are simply meeting a quota because they are not practicing inclusion. Inclusion, to Visconti, includes actually assimilating everything that comes along with adding people of color instead of forcing those people of color to conform to the sustained and officiated “whiteness,” of the profession.

Microaggressions against people of color in the library workforce is also talked about in the article. Visconti notes studies that show people of color are often the target of such aggressions while their White counterparts are not. He continues by noticing that there is specific lack of study on the subject of racism in the library which could be considered racist in itself.

Visconti concludes by noting how librarians always strive to provide services to a diverse patronage but fail to include diversity within their own profession. The author call out for an increase in inclusion and for a more diverse profession.

Article Expansion

Visconti does an excellent job of providing facts and evidence of issues regarding diversity and inclusion in library environments. His article clearly describes the issues in the LIS profession but what the article lacks is a possible solution to the problem. The library must be an environment that makes all feel safe and respected, both patrons and staff, and in order to successfully provide services to the community. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination are not issues that can be solved quickly or even easily. Instead, these issues should be part of a long term goal that the library community is constantly and actively striving towards. Moving forward, we would like to expand this article to explore possible solutions to these issues to further promote diversity in all areas in the library profession.

Possible Solutions

After reading this article it is clear that something must be done in order to assist in eliminating racism and discrimination in the library environment for both patrons and staff. In his conclusion, Visconti mentions the possibility for LIS students to take a course in library diversity during their programs in order to be more cognisant of problems in the area of diversity and inclusion. He also mentions that although some programs offer these courses, students aren’t always taking them as they are offered as electives only. Perhaps these courses should be considered a required course rather than an elective. This way, LIS programs are ensuring that their students are being educated in the subject areas of diversity and inclusion in the library.

Another way in which diversity can be supported through the library community is through programming. Culturally diverse programming could be offered through the library’s services. These events could be centered around a holiday or simply to raise awareness. Programs could also be centered around books, movies, or other materials that feature themes of diversity. Programs that already established in the library, such as story time or art activities, could incorporate diversity into their programs. Patrons could take part in these events and directly benefit from them while library staff would benefit through means of supporting the program and its participants.

Information Behavior of Migrant Hispanic Farm Workers and Their Families in the Pacific Northwest

Reviewed By: Julieta Garcia, Cassandra Swartzwelder, Alexis Harmor, and Ysied Gillette

Link to article:

Article Synopsis & Core Research Question(s)
Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, and Cunningham’s (2004) article explores the everyday information behavior of migrant Hispanic farm workers and their families in Central Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Despite Yakima Valley’s rich and successful agricultural production, along with its many assets such as high education, hospitals, & museums; it’s also an economically distraught city with high levels of unemployment and poverty. Yakima is a multiracial and multicultural city with three predominant groups, the Native American Yakama Tribe, Hispanics, and Caucasians. These three distinct and very polarized ethnic groups, constantly compete for resources, and most of all at the low end of the socioeconomic scale. The Hispanic population ranges from 4th generation farm migrant workers that speak English and hold some education to new arrival farm workers that possess the little education and are non-English speakers. The authors wanted to understand how this community of mostly Spanish speaking people get their information and how do they do it. The study took place in and around the two Community Technology Centers (CTCs), where members of the community can come and take classes, get information, and find assistance. Both CTCs (12,000 base clients) consist of a room with 25 computers open six days a week for classes and personal use. The study was guided by three core research questions:
1) What role does interpersonal information-seeking play in the lives of migrant Hispanic farm workers and their families?
2) What are the information grounds of these workers and their families?
3) For what types of situations do these farm workers share information using what media?
The authors of this Yakima Valley exploratory study utilized, in their methodology, used both qualitative and quantitative methods during their field observations at both CTC’S and in the surrounding community. Data collection approaches employed during the study included thirty to sixty minute in-depth interviews with CTC users. These interviews were not recorded because of the University of Washington Human Subject presented concerns regarding this at-risk population, which by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Belmont Report Code of Ethics, emphasizes on a systematic assessment of risks and benefits ration when human subject studies take place. Additional at length interviews were administered to staff and administrators. All interviews and questionnaires were provided in the primary language (or language of proficiency) of the subject. Bilingual questionnaires contained verbatim questions as those presented in the user interviews, and a sign-up sheet for participants to indicate their reasons for using the CTC. Data collection and analysis by the authors included the interviews or surveys of fifty-one CTC users and eight CTC staff. Collected demographics for the studied population indicated that most users were between seventeen and thirty years of age, 57% were male, 58% had jobs in agriculture, and household size is between two to eleven people. Throughout the study, to ensure validity and consistency in data analysis, the authors kept field notes (a record of their observations and contexts as well interacted with participants), method notes (description of their techniques for collecting data), and theory notes (documentation of ideas and connections with the study’s theoretical frameworks, and other phenomena) (Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, & Cunningham, 2004).
Findings & Conclusions
The study’s data analysis was consistent with the authors’ expected results. These anticipated results included the participants’ vacillation to participate due to their immigration status. Other findings also demonstrated that participants were hesitant to ask for information at the usual places like libraries or other information centers because of language barriers and lack of trust. Furthermore, the study showed that “immigrant and migrant farm workers may engage in the form of ‘interpersonal source berrypicking’” (Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, & Cunningham, 2004). Unlike most people who only spend a short time on searching for information, immigrants wait for the source to come to them, which can last a lifetime. This study proves that immigrant and migrant workers seek information from trusted interpersonal sources such as family, friends, & other trusted sources in barbershops and hair salons, food banks, co-workers, and church officials. Many of the participants that used the CTCs to find information centered on job finding, income support, ESL, GED, translation help, recreational information, computer help, etc.
The transitory migratory patterns and immigration status of the migrant farm worker population makes it notoriously difficult to study this community. Their collective reluctance to participate in studies, censuses, or any activity that collects their personal data or demographics is usually unwelcome as it could jeopardize their work/status. The authors further found that language is a huge problem for immigrant families, especially when documents and information portals are only written in English. Many families will consult or utilize their children, who have become familiarized with English, to translate and will eventually become their family’s main source of information. The utilization of children as translators and major sources of information drastically change the parent/child dynamic by placing the child in an adult role, often taking care of adult responsibilities such as cashing checks. Immigrants also turn to media for information. Spanish-speaking radio and television stations that serve the migrant community play a significant role in providing immigrants with information. The only Spanish radio station (KDNA 91.9FM) is housed with one of the CTC in the area with 60,000 listeners.
Unanswered Questions & Further Research
The authors recognize the need for future research concerning the differences between information grounds and habits of illegal immigrants versus legal immigrants. Several mitigating factors that influence the difference in information patterns and service disconnects, such as the city library or free health care, reside in the low or general lack of language and literacy skills. Also, as earlier stipulated in the study, the ever-present fear of negative employment opportunities or immigration status outweighs their informational needs and therefore avoidance of places where they might have to provide some documentation. Despite the authors’ steps to ensure reliability and validity to this study, their small drawn sampling group of approximately 50 individuals was very low considering its much larger potential of 12,000 people in relation to their population ratio. This significantly lower representation creates concerns about statistical significance and accurate population representation.
Further research in the Yakima Valley could answer what additional barriers exist between the three main groups, their shared resources, and what can be done to facilitate intercultural relationships. It could be argued that because the CTC is a newer provider in comparison to the NCEC that its users did not trust or felt comfortable to participate in the study. Another factor could be that despite Yakima Valley’s twenty plus physical libraries, their actual conditions and service offering are unknown. The Yakima Valley library’s service further comes into doubt when accounting for the area’s persistent low socioeconomic level and the likelihood of not possessing the resources to staff bilingual individuals, staff or volunteers, or house a CTC. The library’s only official information is the one provided by the library’s website, which is English based and a small Spanish collection. Regardless of the multiple reasons, the current extensive collection of post-secondary educational resources, churches, and cultural institutions could be utilized as a bridge to build trusted interconnected relationships between ethnic boundaries and pool resources for all residents.

Fisher, K. E., Marcoux, E. B., Miller, L. S., Sanchez, A., & Cunningham, E. R. (2004).
Information Behavior of Migrant Hispanic Farm Workers and Their Families in the
Pacific Northwest. iRinformationresearch, 10(1). Retrieved from