Tag Archives: multicultural

A Multicultural Approach to Digital Information Literacy Skills Evaluation in an Israeli College

Article Authored By: Efrat Pieterse, Riki Greenberg, Zahava Santo

Reviewed by: Esther Park, Lisa Hoang, Ashley Marshall, Elizabeth Nordblad

Link to article: https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/comminfolit/vol12/iss2/4/

Many first-year students find it hard to use information resources in the library to develop their information literacy skills. This study focused on the information literacy skills of native Hebrew-speaking students (HE students) and native Arabic-speaking students, who speak Hebrew as a second language (AR students). It was determined that HE students preferred digital resources while AR students preferred printed resources. AR students, who did not trust their Hebrew comprehension, preferred print materials because they could make notes directly on them. The AR students also tended to use more library resources, including the help of a librarian, and ready-made assignments while the HE students did not. This study supports AR students’ need for more media in dimensions of information literacy compared to HE students, in previous research. This article represents an international perspective because we are looking at how bilingual students compile and use their resources. We see how one’s upbringing and learning environment contributes to preferences for resources. This article provides insight into information literacy and how students’ engagement with information is impacted by their primary or secondary language.

Core Research Questions
Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo (2018) were interested in learning if the information literacy skills of first-year Israeli college students differed depending on the students’ cultural diversity. In other studies, cultural diversity has proven to impact how people interact with information (Chai, 2008; Eshet-Alkalai & Geri, 2007; Walsh, Durrant, & Simpson, 2015; Yoo & Huang, 2011; as cited in Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018). The study included Israeli students, whose primary language was Hebrew, and Israeli Arabs, whose primary language was Arabic. The two student groups studied in this article attended elementary and secondary schools separately and received instruction in their primary language. The researchers specifically wanted to know how these first-year linguistically diverse college students perceived their information literacy skills and the differences in perception of said skills between the two language groups. Additionally, researchers wanted to know what barriers hindered the development of information literacy. The purpose statement of the study and research questions, taken from the article are listed below:

The purpose of the research is to examine the students’ self-perception regarding their
information literacy skills and to identify environmental barriers that cause a digital gap.

The research questions are:
1. How do first-year students perceive and evaluate their information literacy skills?
a) How do they assess their skills in using information technology?
b) How do they perceive their abilities in the academic information search
c) Do students critically check the information sources they retrieve for
their academic use?
d) Are students aware of ethical and social perspectives of information
2. Is there a digital gap among students from the different native language groups (Hebrew and Arabic) in the first year? (Pieterse, Greenberg, and Santo, 2018, p. 111-112).

A questionnaire was administered to 125 first-year students during the initial class meeting in an online course on information and databases that provided basic instruction on information literacy skills. The questionnaire was in the college’s main written and spoken language of Hebrew and consisted of three parts: (1) demographic questions (age, gender, language); (2) digital accessibility questions (access to computers and internet at home as well as the level of comfortability); and (3) information literacy dimensions (with a rating of 1 to 5 on various statements). The questionnaire used the content validation approach and a factor analysis test. The purpose of the method of survey was to determine any correlation between demographics, access, and level of proficiency in finding and using information.

Findings and Conclusions
Ninety-five out of a hundred and twenty-five surveys were analyzed. Among the survey participants, 73% were native Arabic speakers (AR students) while 27% were native Hebrew speakers (HE students). The findings in this study resemble other studies in the literature. Both groups declared confidence in their proficiency in using digital information tools and most thought they were above average when performing internet searches. Other studies claim that this mindset is typical of digital natives, a term coined by Marc Prensky, which generalized individuals who were born into a digital culture with the innate ability to think and talk in digital. However, in 2015, Walsh, Durrant, and Simpson’s study found that new technologies are not as accessible to multicultural students from minority groups, despite being digital natives. This was confirmed with the HE students reporting higher proficiency in their ability to solve computer problems than their AR student counterparts. This study also reported that AR students preferred print materials to digital, while HE students preferred digital resources. However, with academic assignments, both groups preferred print materials.
In comparison to HE students, this study found that AR students tend to use the library discovery tools, thus reinforcing past research of the study of information behaviors of Israeli students. In this study, when students were asked about their ethical and social perspectives of information use, the study reported that both groups received assistance from friends and used Wikipedia as an academic resource. There was a significant difference between AR and HE students regarding submitting copied work. Several AR students reported using ready-made assignments, while HE students did not. This finding might be due to a different cultural background with varied awareness of academic culture and conventions or that AR students did not understand the survey question correctly. Despite study limitations, this study examines the various aspects of the information literacy of Israeli students at the beginning of their studies.

What can American libraries learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations?
From this article, American libraries can learn how to provide more services for ethnically and linguistically diverse students. Students have different levels of awareness of the resources available to them, as well as how to access them. Librarians can promote awareness and access to additional free resources that students may not be aware of. They can also dedicate time to teach students about library resources and how to use them properly through a mandatory orientation. For example, academic libraries can work with the university to set up a mandatory one unit course to teach students how to access the resources and services available in their library. Collaborating with educators, librarians can assist with curriculum development focused on academic research skills for students. Libraries can also provide resources in different languages and hire bilingual staff who can assist with the diverse range of student inquiries. Additionally, librarians with the assistance of bilingual staff can create videos teaching information literacy skills in a variety of languages. These videos can be provided within the library as well as posted on the library website for 24/7 accessibility. Signage in the library and on the library website should also be multilingual.


Pieterse, E., Greenburg, R., & Santo, Z. (2018). A multicultural approach to digital information literacy skills evaluation in an Israeli college. Communications in Information Literacy, 12(2), 107–127. doi: https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2018.12.2.4

Transformative Praxis – Building Spaces for Indigenous Self-determination in Libraries and Archives

Reviewed By: Myla Perrelli, Jennifer Robertson, Josephine Trott, & Jessica Walker

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/transformative-praxis/

This article looks at the ways in which libraries and archives in Australia can decolonize and indiginize simultaneously in order to provide cultural safety to their communities. The author Kirsten Thorpe believes that much importance lies in the praxis, or combination of reflection and action within the context of theory and practice, as it relates to the work that needs to be done with regards to Indigenous peoples. A stronger and more direct dialogue is needed on the subject of Indigenous people and decolonization within the library community in addition to more direct action. The importance of cultural interface, or the different awareness and knowledge that people have on a subject, is discussed. The article thoroughly delves into important areas where work needs to be done in institutions and research with the goal to provide solutions. These areas include utilizing Indigenous research methodologies, working locally with Indigenous peoples, and resourcing the decolonization and indigenization with time and money. Additionally, the author is an Indigenous archivist from Australia who has 20+ years of experience working in the field. Her family on her mother’s side are Worimi people from a coastal region of Australia.

Core Research Questions
For this article, the core questions are explicitly written in the text. They are:
“ How can libraries and archives engage with indigenous peoples and communities to build mutual partnerships within current frameworks?” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)
Can libraries and archives build spaces with respect to indigenous people, or will they continue to ignore their role of “perpetuating colonial system and structures”? (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)

Historically, the organization of information in Australian libraries and archives have continually ignored input or voice from the Indigenous peoples and communities. The author stresses throughout the article that ignoring the Indigenous people’s perspectives, will continue to harm the community and possibly traumatize the multiple generations with colonial centric histories. Practices cannot merely change overnight without community partnerships and engagement. The author questions how we can create mutual partnerships, given the current organization in current libraries and archives.

In the past, there has been an effort in creating library and archive spaces for Indigenous communities; however, “many projects and services were being designed without Indigenous community input or perspective” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1 para. 9). Problematically, Indigenous peoples were asked to approve of new projects only after they have been designed and created. These finished projects had little to no input or collaboration from the communities in which they were for. If Australian libraries and archives want to build and design spaces with respect to the Indigenous communities that exist in Australia, the author argues that there needs to be an effort to collaborate with Indigenous people and decolonize the classification, description, and organization of the existing system.

Thorpe uses a qualitative examination of personal experiences, or autoethnography, according to the guidelines laid out by Houston (2007) to consider the core questions. The data for this self-study is acquired through Indigenous Standpoint Theory (IST) and evaluated using Cultural Interface as detailed by Nakata (2007). Standpoint theory is an individual’s ability to understand how their perspectives have been shaped by the dominant, usually conflicting, culture. IST specifically looks at how the dominant culture has erased, misrepresented, and suppressed ancestral cultures and languages to perpetuate assimilation. This provides context for identifying the instances of suppression that arise in the everyday life of Indigenous people. These instances are also the root of much distrust with the institutions in question. Cultural interface uses the intersection of Indigenous people’s ancestral identity and colonizer culture to witness systematic conflicts. Using the cultural interface, instances identified with IST can be evaluated based on how much personal harm and trauma is inflicted. Thorpe (2019) considers both the “experiential and intellectual” impact of these instances (Thorpe, p.1, para. 5). This qualitative information is used to inform ways they can be used in praxis to decolonize libraries and archives. In doing so, the oppressive power systems can be eliminated to create supportive spaces and systems for Indigenous people.

The main finding of the study is that in order to make archives and libraries more supportive of indigenous populations, various goals must be achieved. The first of which is that “indigenous research methodologies” must be utilized (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para 20). For example, the Kaupapa Maori Theory provides great framework for challenging the “dominant systems of power”, or in other words, the library and archival structures that oppress indigenous populations (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 6). The next component is to use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to guide library and archive practices. Another idea is to consult leaders in the indigenous community for their advice, work with them to prioritize goals and adopt protocols that are applicable to these groups. Additionally, collaborative members could create plans that will put these protocols into action. Librarians and archivists need to respect indigenous groups’ values and build a relationship of mutual benefit. It is also important to increase representation of indigenous peoples in leadership positions such as on library boards. Leaders need to understand that the process of creating a supportive environment requires changes that must be made to work, with time and resource division. Lastly, advocate for studies of indigenous populations as a core component of curriculum in library and archive courses.

What can American libraries learn from this?
American Libraries can learn from the international perspectives that the populations the library is looking to serve should be leaders for developing services. Key groups in the community must be consulted and power structures of the library must be examined. Libraries need to be willing to look at the underlying structural components of their organizations that may marginalize groups in their community and be willing to change them.

White librarians in particular have a lot of work to do. Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities should not have to bring this work forth alone. It needs to be an effort that takes into account the trauma and emotional/cultural safety of the community that the librarian works and resides within.

Librarians and archivists also need to understand that there are different cultural practices and beliefs between multiple Indigenous communities. If they want to design spaces for them, then collaboration needs to happen before, during, and after the process. Librarians must recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all in creating these information spaces, so the process will need to be revisited several times, with each distinctive Indigenous group.

Essentially, Americans libraries were designed in a colonized system which has been shown to be oppositional and harmful to Native Peoples. This article draws attention to the ways in which American libraries may be similarly hostile to Indigenous Americans. To consider the actionable ways to decolonize the system, as laid out in the article, provides a starting point for local research and understanding of the methods for measuring and collecting community input.


Houston, J. (2007). Indigenous autoethnography: Formulating our knowledge, our way. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 36(S1), 45-50.

Nakata, M. (2007). Disciplining the savages: Savaging the disciplines. Canberra, A.C.T.: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Thorpe, K (2019). Transformative praxis: Building spaces for Indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/transformative-praxis/