Tag Archives: libraries

Information Literacy in the Context of LGBT Community: A Survey of National and International Publications

Article Authored By: Selma Leticia Capinzaiki Otttanicar, Jean Fernandes Brito, Rafaela Carolina Silva, Everaldo Henrique dos Santos Barbosa, and Cassia Regina Bassan de Moraes

Reviewed by: Kacie Cox, Rachel Moore, Shannen Moore, Minnie Esquivel Gopar, and Patrick Washington

Link to article: http://www.uel.br/revistas/uel/index.php/informacao/article/view/34561

Article Synopsis

The LGBTQ community still faces discrimination in society due to prejudice, but it is important to research the difficulties that the community faces so that we can improve the community’s quality of life and access to resources. This article focuses on the ways in which literature in the library and information sciences (LIS) field has addressed the LGBTQ community in research. Specifically, the article is determining the information competence (CoInfo) of the research available in terms of creating pathways for lifelong learning for the LGBTQ community and highlighting the importance of diversity. There are two main objectives seen in this article; to understand how CoInfo can lead to respect and developments for the LGBTQ community, as well as looking at how LIS literature has included the LGBTQ community in research.

The researchers conducted a systematic literature review regarding CoInfo issues surrounding the LGBTQ community using international databases to yield diverse, global perspectives. The results showed that research in LIS still shies away from addressing the LGBTQ community on both an international and national level. Additionally, it was found that there may be a barrier to information literacy for those who are older within the LGBTQ community, resulting in a lack of access to information and resources. The researchers determined that CoInfo in LGBTQ literature can assist the community in developing more information literacy through reducing misinformation, learning how to critically interpret information, and gaining a better understanding of the community itself.

Research Questions

1. How can information competence help others respect the LGBTQ Community?
2. What research has already been completed in terms of information competence and the LGBTQ community?
3. What are the barriers information seekers face in terms of the LGBTQ community?
4. How is information disseminated to the public?
5. How can the standards for information competency be applied specifically to the LGTBQ community?
6. What can we learn from the information cycle as it applies to the LGBTQ community?


Three international databases were used for this literature review: Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA), Web of Science (WOS), and Scopus. The Brazilian database Base de Dados em Ciência de Informação (BRAPCI). There was no date limit set to the search, and all terms were searched in English. The search was limited to works from areas of Social Science and Applied Social Science. The authors then categorized and analyzed the articles they collected, ensuring that the articles contained relevant information. They then took the standards of information competency and applied them to the LGTBQ community, creating a theoretical framework to show how information competency can lead to respect for the LGBTQ Community.

Findings and Conclusions

Ottonicar et al (2019) found that information competence among LGBTQ people is a crucial element that bridges gaps in access to information. Their findings also provided some context regarding the varying information needs of the community. Transgender individuals, for example, have different information needs than do cisgender individuals. Similarly, lesbian and bisexual individual’s information needs differ from those of gay men. The variety and diversity of the individuals among LGBTQ communities offer a challenge to information accessibility because of the diversity of information needs. Ottonicar et al (2019) argued that misinformation, stereotypes, and prejudicial information create a barrier to information access regarding the LGBTQ community. They emphasized the vital importance of the dissemination of accurate information about this community in order to provide relevant context and to guide ethical information behavior by and about the LGBTQ community. The promulgation of accurate information for and about this community is essential in order to educate others and counter misinformation and thus leads to greater awareness and acceptance of the community, and to greater information competency in general.

The authors commended the information competency of LGBTQ individuals but concluded that this competency was linked to barriers to access to information. Individuals who were skilled at seeking and evaluating information about the LGBTQ community often had little recourse other than to utilize those skills. The findings concluded that the LIS community remains slow to address the information needs of this population. Even the survey of literature conducted herein contained only a few titles that directly addressed LGBTQ information-seeking behaviors, access to information, and information competency. In addition, they noted the uneven application of programming and information by and about this community, and the ways in which stigma continues to operate to preclude access to information. Access to more information, and more accurate information, is essential to reducing the stigma associated with the LGBTQ community. The more knowledgeable that people are about this community, the less likely they are to be prejudiced against them, and the more likely they are to respect them and to respect all aspects of diversity within their communities. The authors also suggest an interdisciplinary approach be taken to further research between the social sciences and information sciences.

What American Libraries Can Learn

The intersectional LGBTQ+ community experiences successes and unique adversities globally. Flores (2019), has found that the average level of LGBT global acceptance (i.e., a country’s average societal attitude toward LGBT people that is expressed in public attitudes and beliefs about LGBT people and rights) has increased from 1981-2017 (p.5). Approximately 28 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, there is more LGBTQ visibility in media and society, the Equality Act is a historic piece of LGBTQ legislation to ensure civil rights, bans on conversion therapy have been enacted by 20 states in the U.S., and there are even openly LGBTQ celebrities, public figures, politicians, and world leaders. The authors of this article clearly articulate that changes in legislation to ensure human rights and that include discrimination protections for sexual minorities positively affect public sentiment and acceptance. However, they also critique the notion that LGBTQ specific information and rights have reached a level of global acceptance or information competence that would address the historical disenfranchisement in representation and actuality. In the United States, there are varied examples of criminalization of LGBTQ existence along with historical and systemic erasure. Moreover, while marriage may be one right gained, many LGBTQ folks still face rampant discrimination and violence, poverty, displacement, and even government-sanctioned persecution. All these factors contribute to the challenges the LGBTQ community can face when searching for information about self-actualization, identity formation, demographics, health, community, or belonging. The best way for global libraries and information professionals to serve the information needs of the intersectional LGBTQ+ community is by proactively communicating to government officials, members of the community, legislators, and internal and external stakeholders that the library functions to uphold the intellectual freedoms of all intersectional diverse patrons by upholding functions of social justice and human rights. Therefore, as Ottonicar et al (2019) communicate, LIS professionals must continue to engage in subverting the stereotypes and misconceptions to then promote information competence about the LGBTQ+ community while seeking to address the barriers to access of information.

A library contains the essence of a society translated into text. It functions, in part, as a mirror, reflecting the beliefs, strengths, and accomplishments of society through the literature that lines its shelves. For this reason, it is pivotal that libraries not deny representation to any segment of society. A library is more than a mirror; it is part of an organization committed to providing equal access to information for all patrons without discrimination, prejudice, or bias. (Albright, 2006, p. 55)

Ottonicar et al and Albright justifiably assert the foundational ethics and purpose of libraries and information institutions and organizations as a cultural archive, information hub, democratic equalizer, community center, technological equalizer, etc. This understanding is imperative to serving traditionally underserved and multi-marginalized intersectional communities like the LGBTQ information community. This cognizance, promoted as best professional practice in the article, can be implemented in libraries in the United States and comparable MLIS programs. Moreover, the exigency to look beyond Eurocentric heteropatriarchal imperialistic ethnocentrism and as Schwartz (2013) deftly puts, “Learn Globally, Act Locally.”
Ottonicar et al also highlight the paucity of information regarding LIS and the LGBTQ community indicating a clear need for additional research, this is also true for U.S. libraries. In addition, the authors reported varying responses to queries about library program offerings targeted at the LGBTQ community. It is likely that American libraries, too, differ wildly in terms of their offerings for their specific LGBTQ community. Libraries must offer information about this community and programs that serve the community not just to meet the information needs of LGBTQ individuals, but also to counter misinformation, stereotypes, and negative assumptions. Doing so benefits everyone, as access to this information also strengthens the information competence of those who are not a part of this group. American libraries could also benefit from the expertise of highly competent LGBTQ information seekers, possibly by pairing individuals in a mentor-mentee manner. A similar offering aimed at increasing knowledge about the LGBTQ community would be useful in both meeting the needs of those who are developing information competency and highlighting the skills of those who have. Finally, highly developed information competency requires the ability to assess context and nuanced understanding regarding the legal and ethical ramifications of certain kinds of information. Thus, U.S. based LIS professionals serving the information needs of the LGBTQ community will educate those not a part of it on these higher-level information competencies.


Albright, M. (2006). The public library’s responsibilities to LGBT communities: Recognizing, representing, and serving. Public Libraries, 45(5), 52–56.

Flores, A. (2019). Social acceptance of LGBT people in 174 countries, 1981 to 2017. The Williams Institute, Los Angeles, CA. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/global-acceptance-index-lgbt/

Ottonicar, S. L. C., Brito, J. F., Silva, R. C., dos Santos Barbosa, E. H., & Bassan de Moraes, C. R. (2019, April). Information literacy in the context of LGBT community: A survey of national and international publications. Informacao & Informacao, 24(1), 484-512. doi:10.5433/1981-8920.2019v24n1p484

Schwartz, M. (2013). Learn Globally, Act Locally: World Library Connections. http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lls&AN=88016278&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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.

Fear at First Sight: Library Anxiety, Race, and Nova Scotia

Article Authored By: K-Lee Fraser and Joan C. Bartlett, PhD

Reviewed by: Cherie Buenaflor, Kielayameosha Carswell, Larissa Edwards, Vanessa Lindquist, Katryna Pierce, and Jennifer Powell

Link to article: https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/4366/4701

Summary and Literature Review
This article studied racial differences in library anxiety and the coping methods of undergrads in Nova Scotia, Canada with research through surveys and interviews. The authors of the article describe a brief history of how African Nova Scotians (ANS) faced discrimination and barriers to education. Although things have improved with scholarships and grants created by the African Nova Scotian community, enrollment in higher education is still lower than for Caucasian Nova Scotians (CNS). The research used the Library Anxiety Scale (LAS) as a survey tool, which was later followed with demographic questions.

The literature review section goes into detail about environmental, dispositional, and situational antecedents, which all play a role in how the students react to the library. Fraser and Bartlett further mention that the advancement of technology has also complicated how students interact with the library and library staff. Based on interviews and surveys, the authors determined that ANS initially had lower library anxiety than CNS. ANS had a positive reaction at first, but over time, their library anxiety increased especially due to barriers when interacting with staff. Fraser and Bartlett discussed how important it is that more research be done around Library Anxiety as there is not much current information, and the size of their study only looked at a small number of students. This article calls attention to the positive effect that early exposure to libraries can have in future academic success.

Research Questions
Fraser and Bartlett’s research questions compared the experience of undergraduate ANS students with their Caucasian peers in academic libraries. Their first question “Is there a racial difference in library anxiety among Nova Scotians?” serves to provide a brief overview of the history of the ANS community. Historically, 48 African communities were formed on the margins of society in Nova Scotia, some fleeing American slavery, others as Jamaican and Berumudan refugees between the late 1700s and early 1800s. These people were also victims of institutional racism in Nova Scotia, some finding the same racial discrimination as in their countries of origin, including less access to benefits. Fraser and Bartlett (2018) provide evidence that ANS students seeking higher education are faced with multiple educational barriers, including segregated schools, lack of math and science curriculum in secondary schools, and poorly trained teachers (p.4).

Further research questions: “Which aspects of library anxiety affect the two racial groups?” and “How do students alleviate library anxiety?” are asked because this research seeks to find insight on how academic libraries can support ANS students dealing with library anxiety to increase their likelihood of academic success.

The study employed a mixed method approach to their research, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. The first phase was preliminary and included a survey of 48 Nova Scotian undergraduates and recent graduates. Eighteen students identified as ANS, 24 identified as CNS, and five students identified as “other” ethnicities (the students who identified as “other” were excluded from the final results). The survey utilized a “43-item, 5 point Likert scale survey” called the Library Anxiety Scale (LAS). The LAS studied dimensions of library anxiety. Students participated in the survey online, and, after completing the survey, were invited to participate in a follow up interview.

During the interview phase, eight students participated in interviews, with five students who identified as ANS and three students as CNS. An interview guide was created with guidance from research questions, the LAS, and questions addressed in previous studies, as well as findings from the survey. The interviews were conducted in person, on Skype, and on the telephone, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the Constant Comparative Method, applying both closed and open coding schemes.

Findings and Conclusions
The authors concluded that while their sample size was small, they observed low to mild academic library anxiety in both ANS and CNS university students. ANS reported initial lower anxiety than CNS when they visited the university library. Prior to attending the university, ANS students had positive interactions at their community or local library. For CNS students, prior experiences at their community library “… were filled with anxiety and avoidance” (Fraser and Bartlett, 2018, p. 10). These negative feelings continued for CNS students when they first visited the university library, and used words like “intimidating,” “overwhelmed,” and “difficult” to describe their experiences. (2018, p. 12).

Both ANS and CNS students expressed higher anxiety in terms of their experience with library staff. This included staff being “unapproachable” and “unfriendly” (Fraser and Bartlett, 2018, p. 12-13). ANS students also had anxiety about being stereotyped and treated differently due to their race/ethnicity. These negative feelings by both ANS and CNS students caused them “… to avoid library staff” (2018, p. 14). The authors concluded that “early exposure” to positive experiences at local and community libraries could play a role in students’ lower initial anxiety when at a university library (2018, p. 14). They also concluded that academic library staff must work to remove barriers with their interaction with students in order to create a more welcoming space.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations
The concept of “library anxiety” was first introduced to the field of library and information science by Constance Mellon in 1986 (Muszkiewicz, 2017). In a subsequent study by Bostick (1992), it was found that library anxiety was caused by several factors: “barriers with staff, affective barriers, comfort with the library, knowledge of the library, and mechanical barriers” (Muskiewicz, 2017, p. 224). These causes of library anxiety can be identified in the Nova Scotian students in this study, specifically staff barriers (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Fraser & Bartlett (2018) stated that students avoid interacting with library staff because they felt unsupported. Students reported feeling annoying to unfriendly, unapproachable library staff (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Students also reported that library staff’s lack of cultural knowledge is a stressor; they often avoided seeking advice (Fraser & Bartlett, 2018). Many ANS reported feeling more comfortable using online resources due to the anxiety and uncomfortable experiences with library staff. Wallis (2014) and Lichtenstein (1999) stated that “creating positive interactions between students and library staff helped ease fears and increased students’ academic research skills throughout their degrees” (as cited by Fraser & Bartlett, 2018).

Applying the findings from this Canadian study, libraries in America can work to alleviate the anxieties felt by African American and African Diaspora students in several ways. One way is to offer programs that will introduce students to the library staff. Muskiewicz (2017) highlighted a program at Valparaiso University in Indiana, in which librarians introduced themselves to new students by using humor and factual information about the librarians as a way to make themselves more accessible to students. Additionally, Fraser and Bartlett (2018) related a decrease in library anxiety for those students who reported previously positive experiences in using libraries. This presents an opportunity for partnership between academic, school, and public libraries to create positive library experiences for students in their community. These partnerships could aid in the development of stronger information seeking behaviors and increased confidence in engaging with library staff. Another way America libraries can alleviate anxiety is by designing programs that allow librarians and teens/students to work closely together, build relationships, and have healthy discussions regarding cultural differences. These programs will create an environment where students feel more comfortable utilizing library services, which will likely translate to students being comfortable using academic libraries. The creation of comprehensive LibGuides could also be beneficial, considering the fact that students were more likely to use online resources than interact with library staff. These LibGuides, geared to helping students navigate library services, could potentially be a project that students and librarians could collaborate on. A better understanding of the needs of the community could help librarians to provide culturally relevant services and collections.

By making themselves culturally knowledgeable, American librarians will be more approachable and better able to develop partnerships with the African American (AA) and African Diaspora (AD) students who use their library. This can help alleviate the library anxiety felt by these students. An increase in library staff’s cultural awareness will allow them to provide better services and create a more welcoming environment for AA/AD students in America’s academic libraries.


Bostick, S. L. (1992). The development and validation of the library anxiety scale. Dissertation Abstracts International, 53(2), A4116.

Fraser, K., & Bartlett, J. C. (2018). Fear at First Sight: Library Anxiety, Race, and Nova Scotia. Partnership, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v13i2.4366

Muszkiewicz, R. (2017). Get to Know Your Librarian: How a Simple Orientation Program Helped Alleviate Library Anxiety. Public Services Quarterly, 13(4), 223-240.

Dementia Friendly Memory Institutions: Designing a Future for Remembering

Reviewed By: Mark Jack and Andrew Settlemire

Link to article: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/ijidi/article/view/32529/25592

Review of Lynne C. Howarth’s “Dementia Friendly Memory Institutions: Designing a Future for Remembering” by Mark Jack and Andrew Settlemire

Article Synopsis

“Dementia Friendly Memory Institutions: Designing a Future for Remembering” by Lynne C. Howarth focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), and the contributions libraries and related institutions can and do make to evolving treatment and disability rights paradigms. Howarth begins by describing Alzheimer’s and dementia, and then provides an informative gloss on the history of the medical treatment of dementia, focusing on the shift from a disease-focused treatment to a person-centered treatment. Howarth describes this person-centered treatment as tapping into the passions and interests of the patient by designing a program which allows the patient to explore these interests while treating the patient with care and respect. This also dovetails with a discussion of the changing, international legal and political frameworks surrounding disability rights

This focus on humane and medically advantageous treatments for ADRD feeds into an extended examination of the role “libraries, archives, and museums” have “as memory institutions” in meeting the needs of and bringing into active membership within the larger community, people living with ADRD (Howarth, 2020, p. 21). In this context, Howarth cites examples spanning the globe, from Australia to Japan, England and the United States, covering interior design modifications and innovative programming, while not neglecting the challenges these institutions will no doubt face.

Core Research Questions

What are the best practices for treating those with ADRD?
What are the benefits of person-centered care (PCC) for people with ADRD?
How can cultural heritage institutions (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) meet the needs of those with ADRD?

Methods Used to Answer the Research Questions
Howarth has examined current and historical medical literature alongside pronouncements by international bodies related to the evolving discourse on disability rights in order to trace the changing understanding of ADRD and current treatments. Howarth (2020) provides a list of sixty-one different references of which the words dementia and Alzheimer’s appear repeatedly in over half of the titles, and includes references from organizations such as Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Best Alzheimer’s Products, Dementia Friendly America®, and World Health Organization. These resources are open and readily available. She also includes references which originated in ADRD specific journals such as Alzheimers & Dementia (The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association), Dementia, and American Journal of Alzheimers and Other Dementias among others.

While Howarth’s research strongly stems from most of these journals, she does not limit herself to articles that solely focus on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Other articles that Howarth (2020) relies upon are focused on aging, care for the elderly and those with disabilities, and residential care programs that are primarily used to compare and contrast care for those with dementia and their contemporaries. In considering those with Alzheimers and dementia as being akin to the eldery and those with disabilities, Howarth uses resources from the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Aging all of which provide policy and evidence as to how those with ADRD should be treated and the accommodations which should be made. Howarth also looks at residential care programs in order to provide models of care programs for those with ADRD.

Findings and conclusions.
Howarth (2020) states, “The results of the study indicated that the combination of person- centered program interventions in combination with drug therapy was “97% more beneficial for individuals with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease than memantine treatment alone” (Reisberg et al., 2017, p. 100)” (p.25).Considering these person-centered programs, Howarth (2020) indicates that incorporating individual interests and passions into PCC more effectively treats ADRD as the individual receives better care and learn new skills, or forgotten skills, which help to rebuild the Alzheimer person’s self-esteem and self-respect, providing a higher-quality of life (Howarth, 2020, p.24)

Howarth’s examination of the changing conceptualization of ADRD, both from a medical and concurrent legal/political standpoint, points to both great and hopeful progress and the need for reform. The change from a disease-centered to a person-centered approach has been adopted in institutional language, from the the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Standing Committee on Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons (LSDP) (Howarth, 2020, p. 27 & 31).

Howarth locates within Libraries and other “memory institutions” a convergence of skills and resources that are uniquely suited to embracing the new person-centered approach to people living with ADRD and their caregivers. Going further, Howarth notes that “a greater impetus towards sharing resources, expertise, technology, and even physical space through examples of convergence among so-called memory institutions,” presents a further “opportunity for taking a leadership role in advancing quality of life for those living with dementia” (p. 34).
While primarily locating positive developments as occurring at single institutions, the opportunities for collaboration are highlighted repeatedly. Of course, as Howarth (2020) notes, there are challenges to these potential changes as well, budget restrictions being foremost. “When public libraries are accountable for funding on the basis of usage counts, a small group of eight engaged in a resource-intensive art or music therapy program (for example) can be vulnerable to being cut” (p. 35).

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
As Howarth’s examples are not only multidisciplinary, but international in scope, the practice of making American Libraries more friendly to those living with ADRD and their caregivers are easily transmittable to the particular contexts of American libraries. And, given that each community will face varying restrictions on budgets as well as varying needs, the range of practices outlined by Howarth, which run from architectural design to collection development and programming ideas, provide for a wealth of new approaches to designing for those with ADRD and their caregivers. Perhaps the most crucial point, however, is that collaboration and collective advocacy by libraries and other memory institutions needs to be understood as based within a global context and informed by medical advancements and a co-evolving framework of disability rights.


Howarth, L. C. (2019). Dementia Friendly Memory Institutions. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (IJIDI), 4(1), 20–41. doi: 10.33137/ijidi.v4i1.32529

Public library and private space: Homeless queer youth navigating information access and identity in Toronto

Reviewed By: Linda Daguerre, Jeanene DeFine, Jenell Heimbach, Gloria Montez, Kyrie Rhodes, Julia Riley

Link to article: http://library.ifla.org/2144/1/114-walsh-en.pdf

Article Synopsis

While one often hears of the term “passing” in relation to transgender people who appear to be cis-gender, it can be used in different contexts. Passing is when a person can fit into a group different from their own or how they identify: gender, sexual orientation, race, class, disability, or, as is often the case with LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) homeless youth, that they are passing as having secure housing. The reason one might want to fit into another group is for physical protection. For example, in 2019 twenty-six transgender people were murdered in the United States (Human Rights Campaign, 2020). Another reason one might want to pass is emotional protection from having to justify your identity or deal with people who don’t accept you. This is a particularly important motivation for teenagers, who want to fit in. The paper “Public Library and Private Space: Homeless Queer Youth Navigating Information Access and Identity in Toronto (Walsh, 2018) is an ethnographic study of homeless LGBTQ youth in Toronto, Canada. It explores their need to pass and how public libraries may inhibit their information seeking, due to its public nature. Lastly, this paper suggests what libraries can do to meet homeless LGBTQ youth’s needs for safety, privacy and inclusion.

How this Article Represents an International Perspective

This article was originally published in 2018, in conjunction with the 84th World Library & Information Congress (WLIC), a conference hosted by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (International Federation of Library Associations, 2018). The International Federation of Library Associations, or IFLA, publishes global articles on the subject of information science, which connects international information professionals to one another, and to global library news and research. Though full-text articles are published in English, IFLA translates abstracts into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian and Spanish (IFLA, n.d.). This article is written by a faculty member at the University of Toronto, in Canada, and focuses on the Toronto LGBTQ homeless community in public and academic libraries, as well as businesses. The article references North American concepts of libraries, and common expectations of public libraries in the US and Canada, including that libraries are valued for providing access to media and being quiet places to study (Walsh, 2018). Additionally, the article mentions the international stigma surrounding use of the public library by individuals experiencing homelessness, citing San Francisco as an example in addition to Toronto (Walsh, 2018).

Core Research Questions

Who makes up the LGBTQ homeless youth?

How are public libraries inhibiting the information-seeking needs for LGBTQ homeless youth?

What are the needs of LGBTQ homeless youth?

What are the informational needs of LGBTQ homeless youth?

What is the theory of information practice?

What is the definition of a public library?

Why aren’t public libraries considered “safe” spaces for LGBTQ homeless youth?

Why do LGBTQ homeless youth feel the need to hide or “pass”?

What is “passing”?

Why are LGBTQ homeless youth not finding private space in public libraries?

Where are LGBTQ homeless youth going for information?

Why are LGBTQ homeless youth seeking information and privacy from academic libraries?

Why was the Apple Store a popular place for LGBT homeless youth to go?

What behaviors are LGBTQ homeless youth practicing that might make them unwelcome in public libraries?

Why do LGBTQ homeless youth prefer non-public library spaces?

How do cisgendered, heterosexual patrons view LGBTQ homeless youth?

What is the goal of the public library?

How can public libraries support LGBTQ homeless youth?

Methods Used to Answer the Research Questions

To understand the relationship between libraries and homeless LGBTQ youth, a study was launched that spanned 2013-2014 that blended observations, research, and interviews. The study was considered exploratory due to the overall lack of knowledge of the subject group. Homeless LGBTQ youth do not outwardly express any clear distinguishable features that would separate them from a homeless teen, a member of the LGBTQ community, or a mainstream youth living with their parents. This is often because they do not want to be recognized or categorized into the demographic so to avoid discrimination, negative stereotypes, or abuse. Due to these factors the study began as broad as possible and slowly shrunk the more the researchers learned. The clearest and most accurate observations came from an organized weekly drop-in program hosted at the library. Those involved consisted of eleven queer and/or trans young adults who were either homeless at the time or had been in the past. They had partaken in one-on-one semi structured interviews which were then analyzed, along with field notes, and photographs in a technique that was established by Emerson, Fretz and Shaw, experts in writing ethnographic field notes.

Findings and Conclusions

The findings gained from the observations and conversations with the LGBTQ homeless youth user shed light on the need for inclusive spaces in the public library. Benjamin Walsh discovered the LGBTQ youth user periodically uses the public library but prefers spaces that allow them to be seen as they choose to be seen, not as a problem or “homeless” (2018). The public library offers public spaces for all and in this way the public library carries the stigma of a place homeless people go. Walsh found this stigma of homelessness to be a contributing factor as to why the LGBTQ homeless youth preferred the Apple Store and academic libraries (2018). These spaces allow them to be more authentic in their identity. Youth can move freely and privately in these spaces. The public library presents a barrier in which they find themselves faced with their homelessnes and exposure to their identity (Walsh, 2018).

Walsh concludes; librarians can re-establish those important connections by going to youth shelters, hiring LGBTQ staff to do outreach and programming, build empathy for the LGBTQ experience through professional development, create private spaces, and take the time to get to know them. The library is a place where strong connections can be made. The commitment is already in the mission so it’s time to adapt those commitments to all users (Walsh,2018).

What American Libraries Can Learn from Global Practice

In an effort for American libraries to assist and recognize the LGBTQ youth communities, it is crucial to start at the beginning; this point that has been ascertained by the information in this article based on the Toronto library system. Globally, the examination of this demographic of library patrons has indicated their preference of areas where they feel safe from scrutiny, victimization and judgement (Walls & Bell, 2011). A location such as the Apple Store has proven to be a preference over public libraries due to the fact that adequate time can be spent at these locations searching for information without having to share their identities but also not having to conceal them (Walsh, 2014). Libraries might benefit from examining unique infrastructures such as this.

Public libraries in the United States, such as San Francisco who purchase defensive architecture to keep the homeless population away should examine and reassess their approach (Gee, 2017). To reestablish a welcoming and “user friendly” space, judgement and prejudice can only add to information poverty which is not synonymous for libraries. As noted in this study, a step towards embracing our homeless LGBTQ youth and fulfilling their information needs would be to focus on the library staff. Enacting outreach programs and training by employing young LGBTQ staff who have personal experience and knowledge in this distinct community, can be the bridge needed to close these gaps, returning these young members to a safe and comfortable place free from the outdoor elements where information is readily available, programs and education is attainable, and their presence is truly welcomed.


Gee, A. (2017). Homeless people have found safety in a library – but locals want them gone. The Guardian (International Edition). Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/24/libraries-homelessness-deterlandscape-designs-san-francisco

Human Rights Campaign. (2020). Violence against the transgender community in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2019

International Federation of Library Associations. (2018). World Library & Information Congress. Retrieved from https://2018.ifla.org/

International Federation of Library Associations. (n.d.). Journal Description. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/description/IFL

Walls, N. E., & Bell, S. (2011). Correlates of engaging in survival sex among homeless youth and young adults. Journal of sex research, 48(5), 423-436.

Walsh, B. (2014). Information out in the cold: Exploring the information practices of homeless queer, trans and two-spirit youth in Toronto. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Toronto. Retrieved from: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/68014

Walsh, B. (2018, June 27). Public library and private space: Homeless queer youth navigating information access and identity in Toronto. Retrieved from

Access to and use of public library services in Nigeria

Reviewed By: Morgan Barker, Mary Calo, Michelle Reid, James Rice, Heather Waisanen, and Kaitlin Watkins

Link to article: https://sajlis.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/1639/1474


This study examines the factors that hamper access to and use of public library services in Nigeria – both urban and rural (Salman, Mugwisi, & Mostert, 2017). Obasi (2015) noted low development of the country’s public libraries with limited branches, lack of information and communication technology (ICT), a shortage of human and information resources, and inadequate rural information networks. Nigeria’s public library system was originally established in 1952, during the colonial era. In 1953 public libraries were placed under the control of a state agency created by the Nigerian government. Initially they were seen as a tool for continuing education for children who exited school at an early age and for remedying educational system deficiencies (Obasi, 2015). However, after Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the unstable economy and political structure led to a decline in quality of service. Several challenges have hampered use of the services, including inappropriate reading materials, inadequately trained staff, high illiteracy rates, the lack of a reading culture, and irregular electricity supplies (Harris, 1970; Salman, 2006).

This case study seeks to establish levels of access to services and facilities offered in Nigeria’s public libraries, gauge the use, and satisfaction of services. Based on the data the authors extrapolate the lack of support for public libraries in the country and offer eight recommendations to address these issues with the overall goals of better serving all Nigerian libraries and fulfilling the roles designated by IFLA’s Public Library Service Guidelines (Koontz & Gubbin, 2010).

This article showcases an international perspective through a lense of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), the IFLA Public Library Service Guidelines (Koontz & Gubbin, 2010), and the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto (1994). The authors also compare their findings with studies from around Africa, Singapore, Kuwait, China and West Bengal (India).

Research Questions:

The article considers the following core research questions:
What are the current levels of access to library services, and facilities in Nigeria?
What factors (if any) obstructed access to, and utilization of public library services in Nigeria?
Were library users aware of the depth, and breadth of services available to them?
Were there any patterns of library service utilization that could be identified?
Were library users satisfied with the library services they were aware of?
Secondary research focus:
Expanding the study to include the views of current librarians, to give the study a broader perspective.


The authors used a case study approach in order to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. The case study included questionnaires administered to 394 registered library users (out of a countrywide total of 29,277), and interviews conducted with 12 librarians. The library users were chosen using convenience sampling while the librarians were selected based on their positions as the highest qualified from each of the branches. Due to multiple limitations faced by the authors, nonprobability sampling was used throughout (Israel, 1992). The authors used a purposive sample of libraries, as a truly random sample was not feasible due to both large distances between locations and personal safety concerns. Using a purposive sample of extremes, they selected one State Board library and one rural library from each of the six regions in Nigeria. Because nonprobability sampling was used, it is not possible to generalize the results of the case study to the entire population of library users in Nigeria with a measurable degree of certainty. However, the consistency of results across the twelve libraries does provide a high level of confidence, particularly for male library users (who made up 85% of the convenience sample). Library non-users were excluded in this case study.

Findings and Conclusions:

The authors conclude by focusing on main service drivers – awareness and access. The study, however, excluded marketing elements used in Nigeria. The impact of marketing would have provided context for types of users being spoken to, what services were being advertised, etc. For example, the authors found that the majority of respondents were students, male, and highly educated. Marketing materials could provide a broader look at what the authors highlight as government responsibilities, in regards to library services. The author’s concluded that development and empowerment of the population is an especially critical goal. Those who are not male, students, or educated may not see any relevant means to access services – as awareness campaigns may not be structured to meet their needs. A needs analysis is a critical component mentioned by the authors, as a comprehensive respondent pool would add validity to these efforts in Nigeria.

Takeaway – American Libraries:

This study poignantly revealed several challenges to Nigerian libraries’ ability to successfully provide relevant services to the general population. Not surprisingly, rural libraries are impacted more than urban libraries. Barriers to access include an overarching lack of awareness from the public as well as irrelevant, outdated, and limited library materials. Usage and user satisfaction remains closely tied to access, and therefore these barriers significantly reduce libraries’ ability to impact the community. Though Nigeria may seem to exist worlds apart from the United States, many of these same barriers to access exist for marginalized communities served by public libraries found within this country. Similar to Nigeria, rural libraries in the United States are granted fewer resources resulting in less available, often outdated materials. Much like in Nigeria, U.S. libraries tend to direct services and materials towards the privileged populations and through a white lens. This practice overlooks the specific information needs of marginalized populations; increasing barriers to access and reducing overall usage and satisfaction from the general population served.

Libraries within the United States may benefit from careful consideration of the results found within this study. First, the recommendations call for community engagement, critical and specific community information needs assessments, and collaboration from community partners in program and service development. This call to action requires increased library outreach, partnership, and actively listening to the voice of the population served. Second, libraries need to be funded consistently across states and populations. Without financial aid, libraries are unable to provide the services and materials necessary to support their communities. Finally, library staff must engage in continuous education focusing on cultural competency, the specific needs of the population, and the most effective ways to reach that population in meeting identified needs. Though conducted in Nigeria, this study, once again, highlights the critical importance of a deep knowledge, respect, and collaboration with the community. Only then will libraries establish a culturally relevant practice and service to the population served.

Harris, J. (1970). Libraries and librarianship in Nigeria at mid-century. Paper delivered at the Nigerian Library Association Conference. Lagos. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED053768

IFLA/UNESCO. (1994). IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.ifla.org/publications/iflaunesco-public-library-manifesto-1994

Israel, G.D. (1992). Sampling the evidence of extension program impact. University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences PEOD5. Retrieved from: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pd005

Obasi, N.F.K. (2015). Indices of access to information in nigerian public libraries and citizens’ political participation. Retrieved from: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Salman, A.A. (2016). Provision and utilisation of public library services in nigeria. [PhD thesis]. University of Zululand.

Salman, A.A., Mugwisi, T., & Mostert, B.J. (2017). Access to and use of public library services in Nigeria. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 83(1), 26–38.

NNELS: A New Model for Accessible Library Service

Reviewed By: Jennifer Bousquet ,Sonia Botello, Robyn Brown

Link to article: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/ijidi/article/view/32194

SP 19: INFO 275
Open Access Research Assignment
Jennifer Bousquet
Sonia Botello
Robyn Brown


The thrust of the 2018 article “NNELS: A New Model for Accessible Library Service in Canada” by author Kim Johnson, is that the visually-impaired public are chronically underserved in Canadian libraries. Johnson offers an overview that that describes a shortage in readily available material for individuals who have impairments that prevent them from reading traditionally printed materials. Johnson asks the question: “How can a public library provide a rich and diverse collection that meets the needs of its entire local community, including those with print disabilities, when so little of the published material is accessible?” (Johnson, 2018, p. 114). Johnson suggests that a new solution is being created by the The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). NNELS is a digital library with a mission to change traditional print materials to more accessible formats. Johnson makes the point that it is less costly and more efficient to create accessible materials to begin with, rather than after publication of traditional printed matter.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind was historically the primary resource for Canadians who needed these types of resources, and the library system in Canada has relied on the Institute to provide them as a default mechanism. NNELS is meant to empower all partner libraries to create and distribute materials themselves for print-disabled patrons without having to refer them to the Institute. The new formats of materials include synthetic voice and live narration recordings.

Johnson cites “Looking Back, Rethinking Historical Perspectives and Reflecting upon Emerging Trends,” as a thoughtful piece that examines how disability has been viewed in Canada as a medical problem, then transitioned to being seen as special needs/service model and the experience of being treated as “other,” and currently towards a movement with disability advocates fighting for equal access.

Core research question
Although Johnson doesn’t pose explicit research questions, there is a challenging tone to the article itself. Clearly Johnson feels that the print-disabled community in Canada has long been disenfranchised due to a lack of materials available to them in the public library system, and that something like NNELS is long overdue. Johnson sees the NNELS as the new frontier in building a more robust catalog for print-disabled patrons. With an “Accessible format collection and service, NNELS represents a professional practice that not only responds to the users’ needs but also builds on inclusivity and empowerment.” (Johnson, 2018, p. 115).

The researchers did an in-depth examination of NNELS in order to determine what kind of services it provided to people with print disabilities. The paper also looks at the history of accessible services to build up evidence to support their assessment of NNELS. The author’s examination of NNELS looks at what services are provides, how it provides them, and how these services benefit users. Real-life testimonials from users and examples from different libraries in Canada where the NNELS model is in use are included.
Findings and conclusion

The researchers found that NNELS provides an effective, user-driven service that takes into account the needs of the people it serves. They determined that part of the reason the NNELS is so effective is because it treats the users as customers who can demand a higher level of service, rather than clients who must take what is offered to them (Johnson, 2018, p. 116). They further this user-driven ethos by encouraging libraries to provide direct services to patrons (i.e. on-the-spot transfer of material to discs) (Johnson, 2018, p. 118). This empowers the libraries and validates the patron by not making them go through another agency to obtain the material, which would mean jumping through more bureaucratic hoops. Additionally, NNELS calls for a participatory model that allows community members to become involved by making recordings of popular materials (Johnson, 2018, p. 118).
Johnson concludes that NNELS will actually prove to be most effective when it paradoxically no longer needs to exist. The services that it provides should be included in libraries’ collections from the beginning, rather than users having to request them via a special service. Additionally, the material should originate as accessible material and not have to be reformatted (Johnson, 2018, p. 119).

What American libraries can learn from this research
To provide better services for the print disability community in America, American libraries can follow the example of Canada’s National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). Assistive technologies are not always useful for patrons, because most of the time the book they want is only available in print (Johnson, 2018, p. 114). This becomes a problem for library users with print disabilities. Yet, in Canada, the NNELS and Canadian libraries unite and develop accessible versions of printed material for print-disabled patrons. Once the newly formatted book is created, the material becomes part of the NNELS collection and is available for other print-disabled patrons (p. 117). American libraries can learn from and follow the footsteps of the NNELS to create various formats of books for the community.

One method the American libraries can do that the NNELS does is to develop audio versions using an on-demand model. Although audio books continue to be made, not all titles are available. The NNELS, however, has people from the organization and staff from libraries record books. If a book is being requested immediately, the NNELS will use synthetic audio to create the book quickly. Another method American libraries can take in is to create electronic versions of printed books, or they can make changes to e-text to make the text more user-friendly (Johnson, 2018, p. 117). Other ways the NNELS helps the print-disabled community are developing the books into PDF, DAISY, EPUB, electronic Braille, and other formats that best help the patron (National Network for Equitable Library Service, n.d.). American libraries could consider applying the formatting methods to other printed material as well. This includes material such as “medical information, instructional booklets, provincial library legislation,” and other informational material requested (Johnson, 2018, p. 117).

While the NNELS has an emphasis on using CD recordings as a delivery method for print-disabled patrons, American libraries may be able to apply their practices while possibly updating the technologies used. Canadian libraries seem to have an expanded awareness of this user segment that American libraries would benefit from, and consequently improve upon on our own options for providing more reading material for visually-impaired patrons. Some ways include adding voice-activated prompts to locate material in the catalog and using synthetic voice for e-books.

Johnson, K. (2018). NNELS: A new model for accessible library service. The International
Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 2(3), 114-120.

National Network for Equitable Library Service. (n.d.). Library Staff Homepage. Retrieved from

Demographic Variables and Academic Discipline as Determinants of Undergraduates’ Use of Electronic Library Resources in Federal universities in South-west, Nigeria

Reviewed By: Amy Budzicz, Joanna Delgado, Keith Chong

Link to article: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164/


Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s study seeks to build on existing research that suggests that electronic library resources are underutilized in Universities throughout Nigeria. While previous research suggests that the low usage of electronic resources is caused by a number of factors including a deficit in technology literacy, and user attitudes, this study examines other potential factors more closely, using opt-in descriptive survey research to look for discrepancies in electronic resource utilization based on the factors of age, gender, and academic discipline. The study claims that age is the most prominent determinant of electronic resource usage, though it notes that the vast majority of respondents were between the ages of seventeen through twenty five years of age with a mere 1.7% of respondents being twenty nine or older. The results are compared in the study’s literature review to the findings of similar research written by information scientists in the United States, Malasia, Chile, and various other countries and for the most part seem to corroborate the existing findings; that age, rather than gender or academic discipline, is the demographic that can be used to predict electronic resource usage most consistently.

Core research questions

The research questions of Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s 2019 study examine whether the usage demographic usage statistics of electronic library resources correlate to variables such as age, gender, or academic field of study of undergraduate students in federal universities in South West Nigeria. It questions existing studies and research, that focus on why universities report low usage of electronic library resources (including wealth disparity, low levels of technology literacy, and over all user attitudes), and asks whether there are other factors that contribute to this lack of technology adoption.

Methods used

This study surveyed six federal universities in Southwest Nigeria, comprised 140,351 undergraduate students. To narrow the survey pool, the study broke down the number of responders by looking at specific academic areas, and specific departments within those areas. Observing that academic disciplines were common among the six schools, the study was able to categorize academic discipline into 12 departments from 4 subject areas. These were Arts: English, History, Philosophy; Engineering: Electrical and Electronics engineering, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering; Science: Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics; and Social Science/Humanities: Economics, Sociology, and Psychology. The study comprised of an opt-in survey which resulted in 30,516 respondents. Only 5% of respondent submissions were used in order to narrow the study further, leaving a sample size of 1,526 students. Each of the 1,526 students received a questionnaire asking questions of discipline, age, gender, and types and reasons for using Electronic Library Resources.

Findings and Conclusions

According to Ebijuwa and Mabawonku, age is the only factor that played a consistent role in the findings on whether or not age, gender, and academic discipline affects undergraduates use of electronic library resources. For example, patrons using the library were mostly between the ages of 20-22 years old using electronic library resources for class assignments, projects, scholarship opportunities, research, online applications, and personal use such as, news and email, etc. Gender and academic discipline were not affected because of inconsistent results. For example, “Okiki and Ashiru (2011) who found in their study more male (53.82%) than female (46.18%). However, the result obtained in this study contradicts those of Ukachi (2013); Ebijuwa (2018) whose studies had more female than male students” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). Another interesting finding is that there was no consistent pattern between undergraduates using electronic library resources and the number of different disciplines. For example, “Faculty of Science used E-journals, Ebooks, CD-ROM databases, OPAC and E-thesis more frequently than the faculties of Arts, Social Science and Engineering” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). At the end of this article, researchers recommend six different ways undergraduates can improve the use of electronic library resources. For instance, library staff should encourage, recommend, and promote toward undergraduates to use other electronic library resources instead of just prefer one over the other.

What can be gained by American Libraries?

Although the scope of this study was relatively small and focused on usages statistics of undergraduate students, their recommendations are applicable internationally, and across all manner of user demographics. Ebijuwa and Mabawonku make the recommendation that library staff can increase electronic resource utilization by encouraging users to explore all electronic resource options rather than using the same resource every time, and suggest adoption of “various motivation strategies to promote the use of electronic library resources among the undergraduates.” They further recommend that wireless should be available to undergraduates across campus rather than at libraries or specific buildings alone; which can be taken a step farther by public institutions as a recommendation to make free, easy access wireless available in all manner of public spaces to ensure seamless and equitable access.

Additionally, if the results of the study are extrapolated to user populations in general, and age tends to correlate to low electronic resource usage, then libraries need to consider how to bolster education for older patrons using electronic resources. More research should be done to examine demographics that correlate with low usage of electronic resources in American public libraries and how library systems can create and promote electronic resources for everyone.


Ebijuwa, A. S., & Mabawonku, I. (2019). Demographic variables and academic discipline as determinants of undergraduates use of electronic library resources in federal universities in South-West, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164

The Intersection Between Cultural Competence and Whiteness in Libraries

Reviewed By: Shelley Carr, Kristina Cevallos, Karen Chacon, & Rachel Dunn

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2015/culturalcompetence/

Article Synopsis

In her article, “The Intersection Between Cultural Competence and Whiteness in Libraries,” Fiona Blackburn (2015) examines her experiences working in Australian libraries and the implementation of cross-cultural provisions as evidence of privilege and the predominance of “white culture” in libraries in Australia. While this article provides examples of services designed for culturally diverse communities, Blackburn focuses on evaluations of her experiences as a white librarian in Australia in regards to personal understanding and development of cultural competence, especially the influence of white privilege, whiteness, and “white culture.” The article acknowledges the predominance of white workers in the LIS field as well as the dominating bias toward Western ways of assessing, accessing, and organizing information. Though considering her personal experiences at multiple information organizations, Blackburn asserts the importance of cultural competence, which is defined by Overall (as cited in Blackburn, 2015, para. 17) as:
the ability to recognise the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; to come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into service work, and institutions in order to enhance the lives of both those being serviced by the library profession and those engaged in service.

With this definition of cultural competence in mind, Blackburn examines this topic from the perspective of an Australian librarian, and also refers to supporting literature from U.S. LIS professionals who support the practices of cultural competence. In commenting on the importance of cultural competence in library and information organizations, Blackburn encourages a global awareness of whiteness and privilege in the LIS profession.

Core Research Questions & Methodology

As Blackburn describes her journey through librarianship in Australia and her growth and interest in cultural competence, whiteness, and intersectional librarianship, she seeks to answer a few questions. What is cultural competence in the context of librarianship? What is the connection between intersectionality and cultural competence in addressing whiteness in the library? And, how can librarians and library workers approach cultural competence in a primarily white workforce within a predominantly white industry with awareness of power and privilege? Blackburn explains her reasoning by way of her personal experiences as a librarian in Alice Springs, and elsewhere in Australia, and referencing existing scholarship on cultural competence, intersectionality, and diversity in libraries.

Blackburn uses her own experience as a “56-year-old, tertiary-educated, female Anglo-Australian librarian” (Blackburn, 2015) to seek answers to her questions regarding cultural competence, intersectionality, and whiteness in libraries. She notes that working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been her main source of learning about cultural competence and addressing whiteness in the library, but cultural competence goes far beyond just working with Indigenous peoples. Her awareness of her own culture (her whiteness) is her starting point on the journey to becoming culturally competent. Blackburn links together her personal reflections, professional experiences, research, and conversations with librarians as a method to form her conclusions.

Findings and Conclusions

Blackburn’s experience in Australia showed her that there were only a handful of librarians and libraries providing services specifically for Aboriginal people. For this reason, Blackburn focused on building greater engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Blackburn’s goal was for people to see their culture reflected in the library in order to build stronger connections between patrons and their library. This would require more of Blackburn’s colleagues to step in and help create that culture of support, inclusion, and engagement in all nine branches of the library system in which Blackburn worked. From her own experiences, Blackburn found that members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities must be actively incorporated in their libraries’ programs and services in order to support library staff working together to create a culture of inclusion in that library. Once patrons are aware that library services and staff are focused on meeting their needs, patrons may attend engagement activities and library programs more frequently. Blackburn mentioned how some library staff resisted these new ideas due to not having enough time to connect with members of the community and not wanting to add any extra tasks to their workload. Blackburn asserts that once those new connections are built, library staff can focus on maintaining the relationship as the library patrons continue to come to the library.

As support for her arguments, Blackburn introduces the concept of intersectional librarianship which, “recognises the interactions between any person or group’s multiple layers of identity and the marginalisation or privilege attendant on each” (Blackburn, 2015, para. 30). Library staff members need to learn to become allies and active participants in change, which cannot be accomplished in a one-day training session. LIS professionals need to recognize their own biases and privilege before they can become allies to any group. Librarians must focus on understanding the challenges patrons may be facing and what necessary steps are required to mitigate these challenges.

Applications in the United States

The United States could stand to learn from Blackburn’s experiences with the Aboriginal populations in Australia and how the library spaces she worked in were able to support and include the voices and experiences of their patrons. By creating spaces where the patrons could see themselves reflected, connect with their culture, and inhabit a neutral space, they were able to foster engagement with the Aboriginal community and increase usage by that group. The United States could stand to improve inclusion and respectful interaction with Native Americans and other underserved populations by creating inclusive reflective spaces and deeply considering how whiteness comes into play within libraries.

White librarians in the United States could benefit from examining their own “whiteness” and white privilege in the context of the LIS profession after reading Blackburn’s article. Through this awareness and understanding, librarians in the United States can build upon their cultural competence and expand on the inclusion of diversity within their library services. Blackburn’s focus on building engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and her work with Libraries ACT lend some insightful findings that would benefit any library. However, the conversations Blackburn notes in her article give interesting perspectives on how libraries are seen as “white places” and are not as culturally inclusive as they could be. These conversations heighten awareness of cultural differences and what should be taken into account when designing services for diverse populations.

For example, often librarians are busy promoting their own services/programming and forget to work in collaboration with their colleagues for the overall success of that library. In addition, library staff should be mindful of cultural inclusion when designing services for groups that are underserved and seek to include those groups across all library programs and services. In some cases, librarians promote Black History Month or LGBTQ only for one month and forget to incorporate the concept for the rest of the year. In order for patrons to feel a sense of belonging to their library, this should be highlighted throughout the year, and included in collection development decisions and program planning.

U.S. libraries could observe the global practices of international information organizations and draw from their experiences in order to better design services for diverse populations. In her article, Blackburn references examples from U.S. LIS literature which support the inclusion of cultural competence in navigating interactions with diverse populations. Not all libraries in the United States practice cultural competence within their community, with whiteness being privileged in library and information spaces, making it especially important that LIS professionals in the country work to better serve the diverse populations of their community and nation. Based on Blackburn’s examples, U.S. libraries could potentially promote similar services to Native Americans, although regional differences would require more contextual adaptation. By practicing cultural competency by way of awareness of whiteness and privilege in ourselves and our libraries, libraries in the United States can better serve their culturally diverse communities beyond the basics.


Blackburn, F. (2015). The Intersection between cultural competence and whiteness in libraries. In the Library with the Lead Pipe, December. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2015/culturalcompetence/

Overall, P. M. (2009). Cultural competence: a conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. The Library, 79( 2), 175-204.


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.