Tag Archives: diversity

The quest for diversity in library staffing: From awareness to action

Reviewed By: Kelley Presley, Erika Contreras, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Through a review of relevant literature along with inspecting survey results, the author is able to mine for information on diversity in the LIS profession. Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

The article addresses many questions one may have regarding the lack of diversity in the LIS profession. However, as always, there are still questions yet to be answered. With recent political changes in the United States, there is a question of whether or not diversity in the LIS profession can be achieved. Immigration has become a hot topic, and may severely impact the LIS profession in the United States. In addition, proposed budget cuts to federal library funding could possibly affect any library’s ability to recruit, or hire, any staff, much less a diverse one.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

Accessibility and Inclusion Issues in Library Acquisitions: A Guideline to Evaluating and Marketing the Accessibility of Library E-Resources

Reviewed By: Jeana Clampitt, Javier Morales, Jennifer Nguyen

Link to article: http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI/article/view/314

SYNOPSIS
In this article, Kerry Falloon (2016) examines how academic libraries can ensure that their digital collections comply with federal regulations while meeting the needs of all users. She suggests a specific workflow that includes evaluation and marketing of digital materials. Falloon begins the article with a review of applicable regulations, including legal cases that have arisen when universities have failed to comply. Falloon then points to several existing guides which aim to assist librarians with making purchasing decisions. She discusses existing technologies, including specific products, and the benefit for all users of providing adaptable materials and technology. Then she presents a workflow model and discusses how it has been implemented at the City University of New York (CUNY), and specifically the College of Staten Island (CSI) Library. Finally, she discusses marketing, including the importance of signage and the use of LibGuides as a method of promotion.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Falloon states, “The purpose of this study is to educate acquisition librarians attempting to integrate best practices in evaluating the accessibility of acquired products and services into current workflows” (p. 2). In addition, the study aims to “provide a workflow model on how to ensure that a digital resource is evaluated and marketed for accessibility compliance” (p. 14).

These goals can be reframed as the following research questions:
RQ1: How can acquisitions librarians ensure that digital collections comply with accessibility regulations and are practical for all users?
RQ2: What are best practices for evaluating and marketing digital materials?
RQ3: What workflow model do librarians at the CSI Library use to ensure these goals are met?

METHODS
Falloon evaluates electronic resources in regards to the implementation of new workflows. She states that “traditional workflows need to be broken down and redesigned into new workflows, with patron services as its goal” (p. 6). According to Falloon, doing so will allow libraries to be better able to keep the accessibility and universal design needs of patrons with disabilities at the forefront in all electronic resource decision-making processes.

To help with the facilitation of these new workflows, the CUNY-CSI Library used the Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS) as a model to help in the evaluation of product and service accessibility. If properly adopted by library staff, TERMS would help create new workflows that would better allow them to evaluate whether electronic resources are “accessible, adaptable, supportive, and can be used by patrons of all abilities.” (p. 6).

In the course of this wider study of the accessibility needs of patrons, the CUNY-CSI Library has made a concerted effort to prioritize new policies and procedures. Several resources are highlighted, including the ALA’s “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution” policy and the ASCLA’s “Think Accessible Before You Buy” toolkit. These guides along with other resources can help librarians create more accessible content. They can then apply those skills to better evaluate the accessibility of other resources. The author also makes a point to note that accessibility isn’t limited to online resources. For example, library acquisitions staff often also handle the purchasing of hardware and software. This can include specialized equipment, such as screens that magnify text, large-print keyboards, or assistive programs that enable patrons to interact with electronic resources.

Falloon makes several recommendations, such as Zoom Text, a screen reader that serves several purposes. It can enlarge or enhance text and images on the screen, or even read aloud. Other recommendations include Kurzweil 3000, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and even built-in accessibility features found in Microsoft Office Suites. She argues that though several of these options would certainly require a significant investment on the part of the library, it would ultimately be worthwhile, if it better allows the library to assist a wider array of patrons.

FINDINGS & CONCLUSION
Falloon finds that though about 75% of resources acquired by the CUNY-CSI Library are electronic, they are not necessarily accessible. Acquisition and electronic resource librarians are not always mindful that new materials must adhere to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, or the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). “Acquisition and electronic resource librarians need to acquire knowledge of disability law compliance as it relates to product evaluations, purchasing decisions, marketing, and reviews” (p. 14). The article was written to enlighten said librarians of these issues and provide inclusive and accessible TERM steps, signage, and many electronic programs to check whether materials are accessible to those with disabilities.

FURTHER QUESTIONS
Falloon provides an excellent overview of the current situation regarding accessibility of digital collections as well as suggestions for implementing a workflow that emphasizes evaluation and marketing of such materials. Suggestions for future studies include how other academic libraries are approaching the topic, as well as advancements in other types of tech tools.

There have been several advances in technology since this article was published, including the rising popularity of intelligent virtual assistants. These have the potential to increase accessibility for users with disabilities. One further question is whether they are being designed to meet accessibility regulations. Companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have incorporated accessibility settings into these products. They are similar to the settings Falloon discusses for the Windows desktop environment. Other new technologies that are starting to see adoption in libraries are virtual reality (e.g. Google Expeditions) and augmented reality (e.g. librARi). While Falloon focuses on resources for users, there have also been advancements in library management software and repositories (e.g. LIBERO, Alexandria, and ePrints). It remains to be seen which of these different types of technologies will become mainstream and how libraries will work to make them accessible to users and staff.

As technology continues to evolve, accessibility regulations will likely need to be revised to include new formats. Falloon writes that librarians need to be aware of these changes, but does not discuss how to best keep staff aware of updates. One solution would be to assign one or more staff members to track these changes. This could be done by periodically reviewing the ADA website (https://www.ada.gov/), subscribing to email updates from the United States Department of Justice (https://www.justice.gov/news), or following the DoJ (@TheJusticeDept) and organizations such as the Southeast ADA Center (@adasoutheast) on social media.

Reference
Falloon, K. A. (2016). Accessibility and inclusion issues in library acquisitions: A guideline to evaluating and marketing the accessibility of library e-resources. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, 1, 1-16. Retrieved from http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI

THE QUEST FOR DIVERSITY IN LIBRARY STAFFING: FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION

Reviewed By: Kelley Presley, Erika Contreras, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Research Questions:
The author is attempting to understand why there is a lack of diversity in the LIS profession and what steps can be taken to overcome this. Also, understanding if there are, and what kind, of biases are inherent in our profession.

Methods:
Through a review of relevant literature along with inspecting survey results, the author is able to mine for information on diversity in the LIS profession.

Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

Unanswered questions:
The article addresses many questions one may have regarding the lack of diversity in the LIS profession. However, as always, there are still questions yet to be answered. With recent political changes in the United States, there is a question of whether or not diversity in the LIS profession can be achieved. Immigration has become a hot topic, and may severely impact the LIS profession in the United States. In addition, proposed budget cuts to federal library funding could possibly affect any library’s ability to recruit, or hire, any staff, much less a diverse one. How can the LIS profession overcome these new challenges? They must lobby, run for office, and make their voices loud to be heard.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

Making a New Table: Intersectional Librarianship

Reviewed By: Jodi dela Pena, Katie Vanous, Crystal Lanoucha, Melissa-Ann Reyes, Sean Smith

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/making-a-new-table-intersectional-librarianship-3/

SYNOPSIS
In “Making a New Table: Intersectional Librarianship,” Ettarh elucidates the concept of diversity or lack thereof in the MLS/MLIS profession. The article explores how libraries and those within the profession often discuss the lack of minority populations or people of color in libraries, yet still fail to understand how this discussion impedes progress. The author asserts that segregating diverse and underrepresented populations into distinct categories, or silos, does nothing to alleviate the problem. Ways in which diversity can be increased in the MLS/MLIS profession are addressed within the article through the theoretical framework of intersectionality. Intersectionality is described as “the study of how different power structures interact in the lives of minorities, specifically black women, a theory Crenshaw coined in the 1980s” (2014, http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw-intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyone-could/). This theoretical framework was first used to describe the lived experiences of battered black women and domestic violence survivors and the ways that sexism and racism intersected in their stories. It was later adopted in the academic feminist community and as the author asserts, “Intersectionality is a tool for studying, understanding, and responding to the ways in which axes of identities intersect and how these intersections contribute to unique experiences of oppression and privilege.”

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Rather than attempting to answer a question or to prove her point through statistics, Ettarh broaches this topic by posing questions and explaining why it is important to rethink how we approach the concepts of diversity and neutrality in the library. Ettarh asks, “What is intersectionality?”, “How do we make sure that both existing and aspiring librarians interact with patrons and other librarians in a manner that is respectful?”, “Why does [intersectionality] matter?”, “How can librarians make their respective libraries safe for these populations, if people in the field don’t feel safe?”, “Whose table [are we sitting at]?”and “What now?”

METHODS TO ANSWER RESEARCH QUESTIONS
From experience, our group is aware that librarians can adhere to the role of an ally by “educat[ing] ourselves on how these intersecting oppressions affect our community.” Ettarh says, “LIS theory is based on a foundation of understanding and interpreting the information seeking practices, behaviors, and needs of patrons.” As librarians/associates we find ourselves interacting with patrons of many backgrounds and identifiers, both in gender and race. Librarians need to welcome all who walk through their library doors with a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, Ettarh’s suggestions like “[Challenging] all of the assumptions about your patrons, your collections, and your attitudes toward your employees and coworkers.” Openness and advocacy will provide a safe space. Libraries must enforce the policies that ensure that open, diverse spaces are maintained. Upholding library policies and making the public aware of them is important. These policies should stem from a familiarity of the community and the needs of patrons. Rules protecting the rights of all who wish to use the library should be emphasized.
Additionally, librarianship in the 21st century is about service. Service is for all who can benefit from it, without prejudice. Hiding behind the terms “neutrality” and “objectivity” are no longer viable in the current model for librarian behavior. In order to best serve those who wish to use our services, we must advocate for all. Instead of representing no specific group, we must provide resources and service for all, including those who come from communities who may experience intersecting oppressions.

CONCLUSION
Ettarh states, “No one lives a single-axis life” meaning humans are intersectional, multidimensional, and created and defined by a multitude of factors that make an individual unique. The author suggests librarians should “no longer hide behind neutrality and objectivity” especially because an Americanized neutrality is not necessarily neutral. By making a “new table,” librarians are no longer inviting patrons to sit at a table previously set by a “dominant white, heterosexual male society.” Current-day librarians are instead inviting patrons to a table that will take shape via the variety of influences, personalities, cultures, and beliefs brought to the table by the “guests.” With the theory of intersectionality influencing discussions, conversation between librarians are more versatile, taking into consideration not just a single factor or trait of an individual or population, but a combination of qualities that make up an individual or group. Ettarh states, “Engaging in conversations and then turning those conversations into action is paramount. If librarianship at its core is a service profession, then we must do everything to ensure that the culture in the libraries and archives and in the field serves all populations.” In essence, the larger the scope in library conversation, the more response and positivity will flow between patron and institution.

QUESTIONS
While Ettarh makes a strong argument for what is to be done in the context of furthering diversity and intersectionality among libraries, some unanswered questions we had and what we feel future research can and should address include documenting the experiences of minority groups or people of color (POC) currently working in these libraries and how they feel libraries overall can advocate for more diverse collections and develop programming that meet the needs of our communities’ intersectional experiences, which could then address critiques of neutrality raised in this article. Additionally, further research that interrogates and problematizes the concept of neutrality in libraries needs to be done, as this concept is foundational within the core values of the contemporary American library. In order for librarians to shift or deepen the concept of diversity, how can trainings be systematized across different libraries that can influence the way libraries operate? How can we help librarians internalize that the work we do is actually deeply political and not neutral? All of these questions connect to what Ettarh has outlined, including which collections are selected and how marginalized experiences are tokenized or only featured during certain months or seasons. How can libraries better represent the intersectional experiences of our communities in more authentic ways? How do we individually and collectively develop an intersectional perspective and practical framework for it?

ANSWERING THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
The good news is that there are ways to start with a fresh perspective and rehash what already exists. The author suggests,“While it is not their job to educate you, engaging in a dialogue with people from underrepresented communities and listening to how their oppressions intersect can go a long way.” By inquiring about the needs within an underrepresented community, a library can begin by having a thorough understanding of the population as a whole, like traits unique to individuals within a particular group. Ettarh also recommends a change in perspective and states, “By treating these issues as separate entities, we as librarians fail to fully understands how oppressions work in various contexts.” To resolve this issue, “We need to educate ourselves on how these intersecting oppressions affect our community.”
In order to both begin with an intersectional perspective and reconfigure old ways, Ettarh says libraries should, “Provide staff with diversity training, address signs of microaggression and injustice in the workplace, investigate complaints quickly, thoroughly, and sensitively, and take disciplinary action against those who break the policy.” You might also consider defining the term “neutrality” within your work space. What does it mean? What should it mean? How do we eliminate bias?
In total, the article recommended creating what the author calls a “new table” where everyone is invited and there isn’t preconceived influence. The author sections the theory of intersectionality the idea that both identity and marginalism exist simultaneously and interact on many levels (Ettarh, 2014). Librarians should form a perspective and sense of neutrality alongside this multidimensional theory in order to best serve their patrons and the community.

REFERENCES
Adewunmi, B. (2014, April 2). Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality: “I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use”. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw-intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyone-could

Ettarh, F. (2014). Making a new table: Intersectional librarianship.
In the library with the lead pipe. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2014/making-a-new-table-intersectional-librarianship-3/

THE QUEST FOR DIVERSITY IN LIBRARY STAFFING: FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION

Reviewed By: Erika Contreras, Kelley Presley, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

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: http://www.informationr.net/ir/21-4/paper729.html

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 missyUSA.com. 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 MissyUSA.com 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)

References

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 http://InformationR.net/ir/21-4/paper729.html

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: http://jotlt.indiana.edu/article/view/19996

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.

Synopsis
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?

Methods

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).

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Reference
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
from http://jotlt.indiana.edu/article/view/19996

But Then You Have to Make It Happen

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

Link to article: http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/10487

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:
https://www.canva.com/design/DACSnPLS3aM/30_G0GVMyItXPxNaq-rsHw/view?utm_content=DACSnPLS3aM&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=sharebutton

Sources
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 http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/10487

Examining Factors Predicting Students’ Digital Competence

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

Link to article: http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol14/JITEV14ResearchP123-137Hatlevik0873.pdf

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, www.gsi.udir.no, 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.

References:
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 http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol14/JITEV14ResearchP123-137Hatlevik0873.pdf

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: https://doaj.org/article/4d9eab3dcad54d41849d504a8aafb9df

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.

Methods

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.

Conclusion

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