Tag Archives: Canada

Advancing the conversation: Next steps for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) health sciences librarianship

Article Authored By: Hawkins, B. W., Morris, M., Nguyen. T., Siegel, J., & Vardell, E.

Reviewed by: Gender Diverse Group: Amy Johnson, Spencer Winstead, Monica Barber, Amy Hinckley

Link to article: http://jmla.pitt.edu/ojs/jmla/article/view/206/491

(Reviewers’ note: We chose to mirror the LGBTQ acronym used in the article instead of the more currently used and inclusive LGBTQ+. Language is ever evolving and if this article were to be published today, LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA+ is the language one would expect to see.)
This article is a write up of the panel discussion on improving health science libraries’ service to LGBTQ patrons, presented at the 2016 Medical Library Association and Canadian Health Library Association’s annual meeting. The purpose of the discussion was to create an on-going conversation and bring awareness and visibility to the importance of cultural competence skills and understanding of LGBTQ-specific health information needs for health science libraries through the use of creating professional standards, training, and evidence-based research. The panel discussed cultural competence as it relates to the overall effect on the diverse health needs of LGBTQ patrons, the overall lack of reliable health information reaching LGBTQ youth, and a real need to provide training for health librarians—specifically in learning culturally relevant terminology and creating welcoming spaces for LGBTQ patrons to find information. The panel made suggestions for the health librarian professionals to create a toolkit for reference, implement professional training, and utilize creative thinking to provide outreach to this underserved group.
An international perspective is achieved in respect to providing health information services to LGBTQ patrons due to both the international professional association audience to which it was presented and by the diversity of the panel members who gave the panel presentation, as well as the research the panel members included in their presentation and discussion. The research for the discussion and associated article represented health librarian service to LGBTQ patrons in countries including Canada, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The panelists themselves were from both Canada and the United States. The Medical Library Association partners with the World Medical Library Association, which has members in six continents. The intention of this panel was to create a universal conversation to all their health librarian colleagues and encourage a standardized progress in professional service to providing universal LGBTQ health information.
The broad theme of the conversation was the future of services to LGBTQ patrons of Health Science Libraries. The two primary questions that framed the conversation were: (1) How can Health Science Librarians best serve LGBTQ patrons and their specific and evolving needs, and (2) How can the profession encourage a research agenda to build an evidence base in this area. Each panelist gave a short presentation that shared their knowledge and experience, covering topics such as information needs of LGBTQ patrons, current issues in LGBTQ health information, as well as suggestions for how health science librarians can improve their services to these patrons.

In order to gain a broad range of answers to these questions, the six panelists were chosen with diversity of experiences and backgrounds in mind. The panelists represented many different aspects of librarianship, including academic research, public and academic libraries, as well as hospital libraries and community-based health service providers. All had specific interest and history serving the LGBTQ community, and many of the panelists shared their own research conducted around this topic. After the panel was concluded, the perspectives offered were summarized, discussed, reflected upon, and the recommendations that emerged from that conversation are presented in this paper.

In general, the authors found that libraries are not meeting the information needs of their LGBTQ patrons, and more specifically with health-based questions. Furthermore, fluency of librarians’ understanding of the effective interactions is also lacking. Nguyen states that the use of the “Diversity Wheel” and “Gingerbread Person” (2017, p. 317-319) are fairly effective tools at bringing up LGBTQ conversations about diversity and inclusiveness within an organization. These two tools also have their drawbacks, in that they still can be reductive, such as the “Gingerbread Person” using binary classifications of feminine and masculine.

Hawkins argues that LGBTQ experiences are not monolithic, and librarians need to demonstrate better competency of such when assisting these patrons. They promote two methods to improve services, first is to implement “safe space training” (p. 320) to teach librarians more sensitive vocabulary and to better promote allyship for those who do not identify as LGBTQ. Second is to build better relationships with community-based organizations.

Vardell found that librarians would benefit from more training in “using appropriate vocabulary” (p. 321). Siegel also found that most librarians are less familiar with terms “genderqueer, cisgender, gender binary, and gender variant” (p. 322). Siegel’s survey of librarians demonstrated that librarians (80%) understood and supported “additional training” to better assist their LGBTQ patrons (p. 322).

In conclusion, the authors state this field is nascent and will require more cultivation to meet the needs of patrons. One major aspect is to implement training into “critical reflective practice” for librarians and services (p. 324). But these tools are not relegated to health librarians as Hawkins states: “the strategies suggested here could be employed by librarians in all sectors” (p. 320).

To provide better health information services for LGBTQ patrons, American libraries can follow the recommendations found within this article. The study conducted by the authors demonstrates that librarians need to develop resources in creation of LGBTQ health outreach. The article presents support for the creation of a toolkit that would mark the development of librarians to “implement and evaluate other possible strategies in their institutions and make the results publicly accessible, through publication as journal articles.” (Hawkins, et al., 2017). Through the implementation, completed by means of interventions, libraries will build and attract LGBTQ patrons and encourage “critically reflective thinking” (p. 327) regarding librarianship in health sciences. The authors suggest that libraries can assist other libraries, as more attempt to create their own outreach programs, through sharing the experiences in publications. This shared experience will assist in the larger creation of a work regarding this topic that allows other libraries to create and maintain their own outreach projects with greater success.

Many LGBTQ patrons seek health information online because of limitations encountered in library settings such as outdated collections and materials, cultural stigma against LGBTQ people, lack of appropriate vocabulary and insensitivity from library staff that lack the appropriate training. To provide improved service, libraries should address these issues through the implementation of a “toolkit” for the creation of an outreach program that allows the focus to shift so that the result is an authentic experience, the development of a diverse and accurate collection and the well trained culturally sensitive and knowledgeable staff.

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: https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/1997/2634

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.

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

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

Link to article: https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/4887/4833

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

References –
Canadian Association of Professional Academic Libraries. (2017). 2016 Census of Canadian academic librarians cross tables. Retrieved from https://capalibrarians.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Cross_Tab-Report_June_16_2017_FINAL.pdf

Bell, N., Chan, May P., Liu, Guoying., & Ramos, Astrid. (2018). Roundtable: What is holding librarianship back from being more inclusive of visible minorities?. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 13(2) DOI: http://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v13i2.4887

Statistics Canada. (2017, October 25). Ethnic and cultural origins of Canadians: Portrait of a rich heritage [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016016/98-200-x2016016-eng.cfm

Reflecting the lives of Aboriginal Women in Canadian Public Library Collection Development

Reviewed By: Jessica Bell, Allaxandra Guillen, Shana Hay, Myka Menard

Link to article: https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/1245

Article Synopsis
This paper outlines the reasons why Canadian libraries need to develop collections that include accurate and informative resources by, about, and for Aboriginal women in Canada. By discussing the various challenges and successes experienced by collections staff as they seek to supplement this part of their collections, library staff have had the opportunity to see how traditional classification and outdated materials (that focus on mainly negative issues like addictions and incarceration) can prevent discovery by promoting the narrative of the majority over that of the minority. To this end, the author devotes a considerable amount of space to advising on various available resources and providing connections to those resources for further exploration. This paper is Canadian, and though it is speaking directly to Canadian library professionals, because of the proximity between countries the author reminds us that any proposed collection must take into account the experience of Indigenous groups in both Canada and the U.S. The United States and Canada share a border, but these borders are not the same as the Indigenous nations that came before it. Therefore, many of the Indigenous people struggling in Canada are from the same tribes as those struggling in the United States. Essentially, public libraries must establish themselves as spaces of inclusion- all users should see themselves represented in the library and this takes acknowledgement and commitment on part of the LIS professional and the institution they represent.

Core Research Questions
This articles attempts to answer three core research questions:
How can Canadian libraries provide a better understanding of the lives of Aboriginal women in Canada?
How can Canadian libraries develop a core collection of materials by, for, and about Aboriginal women that “accurately reflects and affirms their lived experiences,” (2010, P. 2)?
How can Canadian libraries become more inclusive and welcoming for Aboriginal women?

The author conducted research to find credible sources that provide information about Aboriginal women in Canada, which is listed in Table 1 (2010, P.4-6). These sources were used to create some recommended resources that Canadian libraries could include in their collection. The authors resources contain a list of major authors, key nonfiction titles, and important journals and magazines. The author notes that these lists are only meant to be starting points. Over time, new authors and works will need to be added to library collections.

Findings and Conclusions
It is important to develop a library collection that reflects the “diversity and complexity of Aboriginal women in Canada,” (2010, P. 26). One of the most important roles of public libraries is to provide their communities with access to accurate, credible information. Developing a library collection that is accurate and respectful of Aboriginal women will help dispel racist stereotypes and expand the community’s understanding of Aboriginal people. While libraries have started to include works that more accurately reflect the lives and perspectives of Aboriginal women, the author finds that more work needs to be done. Some steps Kelly notes still need to be taken include: “compiling a representation of resources and works being used and created by Inuit women… and most importantly a better understanding of how libraries engage with Aboriginal women so that any changes made truly reflect what they want and expect from their public libraries,” (2010, P.25-26). In short, people want to see themselves reflected in the libraries collection.

What Can American Libraries Learn?
The population of the United States is incredibly diverse, and each community has unique needs that libraries must identify to be able to serve their community effectively. By assessing global practices and tailoring them to the needs of their community, American libraries have the opportunity to design services for their diverse populations. This can be achieved through efforts to develop culturally sensitive collections and programs, especially in consideration of celebrating minorities; not just identifying problems, shortcomings, or stereotypes. The demographics of marginalized groups are different for each library’s community, but the practice of representing minority voices in a collection can be applied universally. Libraries in the United States can take cues from countries like Canada, which is pushing to not only preserve indigenous knowledge, but also to make that knowledge more broadly available to indigenous and non-indigenous community members alike. This practice can be further expanded to the collection of materials representative of any minority group.
Creating a welcoming environment for all community members, especially those belonging to a minority group, is also a universal concern for libraries to address. Libraries should be for the entire community, not just certain parts of it; unfortunately, past and present institutionalized practices can instill a sense of exclusion for marginalized groups. As global efforts seek to become more inclusive in their materials and services, American libraries can also actively engage their minority community members to let them know they are welcomed in, and valued at, their facilities.

Works Cited
Kelly, B. (2011). Reflecting the Lives of Aboriginal Women in Canadian Public Library
Collection Development. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and
Information Practice and Research, 5(2). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v5i2.1245