Article Authored By: Safirotu Khoir, Jia Tina Du and Andy Koronios
Reviewed by: Audora Arias, Amanda Limcaco, Karla Noa, Giovanni Padilla and Katherine Pascacio
Link to article: http://informationr.net/ir/20-3/paper687.html#.X5rlClNKjPY
Synopsis and International Perspective
Over the past decade Australia has seen an increase in the number of immigrants with the majority arriving from Asia. Resettling and adjusting to life in a new country is not always easy as it often requires great efforts on behalf of the newcomer. With the growing number of immigrants arriving in Australia it’s important to understand their informational needs and information seeking behaviors in order to facilitate them in the resettlement process. This study used a mixed method approach of surveys, interviews, and photovoice of sixteen participating Asian immigrants living in South Australia to determine their everyday informational needs, seeking behaviors, and information grounds. This study refers to information grounds as the places where immigrants share and exchange information. The research in this study included new immigrants along with longer established immigrants. In terms of information needs the results indicate that new immigrants were most concerned with health care, job vacancies, and citizenship, while longer established immigrants were concerned with information pertaining to furthering education. In the area of information seeking the study was divided into four sources: the internet, interpersonal, mass media, and formal organization. The results show that an overwhelming majority of new and longer established immigrants sought information via the internet. To determine information grounds the study was divided into four categories: virtual, physical, association, and social events. The results indicate that the majority of both new and longer established immigrants used virtual sources to share and exchange information.
This article represents an international perspective in that it researches the immediate and critical concerns of Asian immigrants living in Australia. The studies conducted in this article address some of the most common informational needs of immigrants who are learning to adjust to life in a foreign country. Resettling in a new country is a continuous process which requires continuous examination on behalf of the host country. Through this research an international perspective is provided as a means to help host countries understand how to better serve their immigrant communities. Although this study does not represent the information needs of the entire immigrant population residing in Australia, it does provide an introductory analysis of common informational concerns to enable further detailed research. Perhaps as similar studies are conducted in countries around the globe with varying immigrant groups, hosting countries can gain greater knowledge into the information needs of their immigrant communities resulting in a quicker and more effective resettlement process.
Core research questions
What sorts of information do Asian immigrants need for their settlement in South Australia?
How do Asian immigrants seek information to satisfy their everyday needs?
Where do Asian immigrants usually meet and share information?
Participants were recruited using university email networks and referrals from other participants. The 16 total participants are immigrants from India, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and China living in Adelaide, Australia.
A mixed methods approach of questionnaires, photovoice and interviews were used in this study to provide a fuller picture of information behavior amongst Asian immigrants. Participants were offered either printed or SurveyGizmo.com email questionnaires with questions relating to personal demographics, information needs and behaviors during settlement in Australia. The photovoice method instructed participants to use their camera phones to document photos of their information-related behavior. This allowed for deeper understanding of participants’ points of view and self-representation. A total of 73 photos were collected and categorized into themes by researchers. In person interviews ranging on average from 30 seconds to 1 minute were also conducted. Participants submitted their photos at these interviews and were encouraged to tell stories behind each photo. At these interviews, researchers could also ask clarifying questions regarding earlier questionnaire responses.
Descriptive statistical analysis was used for the questionnaires. Participatory analysis was utilized in 3 phases for the photovoice data. Phases 1 and 2 occurred during the interviews. In phase 1, the images themselves were submitted by the participants. In phase 2, participants contextualized the images by discussing them with the researchers. Phase 3 was conducted after the interviews where researchers codified stories, themes and issues that arose from the transcripts of the interviews. To test reliability of coding, inter-coding consistency was calculated with a second coder checking the coding.
Findings and Conclusions
The findings provided an insight of what information Asian immigrants needed, where, and how they achieved their everyday information needs and where they met and shared their information. In terms of information needs, the results showed how Asian immigrants’ needs changes over time as they settled down in South Australia. In the study, newcomers expressed their information needs were associated with settling in a new country, for instance employment opportunities, how to rent a house, healthcare information, how to improve their English, and good places to meet new people. Finding a job was the most challenging for newcomers, even if they already had working experience before moving to South Australia. Longer-established immigrants were more adapted to this new country than their newcomers’ counterparts and can begin making plans for a better future by contributing to their new society. Some of their information needs consist of furthering their education, planning business ventures, and getting involved in political activities. While their information needs were different, their sources of information were similar. Internet sources (40%), such as Facebook and other websites play an important role in the immigrants’ settlement. In this study, Asian immigrants had access to the Internet via home or other public spaces to satisfy their information needs and did not find any significant obstacles. Asian immigrants also considered interpersonal sources (23%), such as friends, family, and coworkers, to be the second most important information source. As for social spaces, both physical and virtual, plays an important role in the formation of everyday information grounds and information sharing among Asian immigrants. When their specific information needs are met, the smoother the settlement process will be. While this study provides an insight of the information needs/ behaviors of Asian Immigrants, the study has some limitations. Settling into a new country is an ongoing process, which would require research over a longer time span. Even with its limitations, this study provides institutions like libraries an understanding of the information needs of Asian immigrants and how to deliver better services and support.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations
Becoming a great librarian means being able to adapt to patrons’ needs. This includes designing services for diverse populations such as new immigrants. Being that this study focused on the information seeking behaviors of Asian immigrants in South Australia, the results provide a window into the kinds of programs that can be developed for similar groups in the United States.
For instance, results indicate that the immigrant groups main priority was seeking information about health care, job vacancies and citizenship. Therefore, this information can be used to develop library programs in communities that cater to majority immigrant populations.
Librarians can design programs where patrons are given a presentation on local health organizations, how to make a doctor’s appointment or where to go during an emergency. Also, librarians can create bulletin boards with information about local job opportunities. This way, patrons will stay informed and feel like the staff have their interests in mind and build trust in the library.
Citizenship information is also a key concept in the minds of new immigrants trying to assimilate into a new country. Libraries need to always be aware of this fact and provide plenty of materials in their collection to support new immigrant groups. Government related citizenship information pamphlets or other relevant documents should be readily available at the library. Also, items such as books or audiovisual materials in different languages are key to creating a good relationship between immigrants and libraries.
American libraries can learn various methods of designing services for diverse populations. There are resources available on the American Library Association (ALA) website and state websites regarding immigrant information or resources. Additionally, social platforms, literature, community and family information has made these opportunities accessible for everyone especially during times of limited interpersonal interaction.
Cultural appropriation and cultural relevance is imperative in being effective in a diverse community because this cultivates engagement and interaction between organizations, institutions and communities. This sets the foundation in designing programs and services for diverse populations and new immigrant communities. It is holding libraries accountable to their mission and vision statement and implementing ways to equip library staff members and serve communities. Moreover, with technology ever evolving libraries adapt or are learning to provide ways of access for everyone to teach, develop and learn about different cultures and opportunities for individuals. This can be determined through case study, interviews, data collection and observation of a library of how a present library is serving diverse populations and communities.
This article followed up immigrants for various reasons in regards to information behaviour. Global practices can teach American libraries how effective present programs and resources are implemented and utilized in communities. Present times and circumstances have developed social interaction, information resources and learning which can be a disadvantage for patrons and community members who do have broadband access and vital resources. These are times organizations, institutions and libraries can come together to design and implement services that influence everyone.