Tag Archives: Public Libraries

An Analytical Study of Some NGOs’/NPOs’ Contributions by promoting Library Activities at Disadvantageous Areas in Vietnam to Create Potential and Lifelong Learners

Reviewed By: Curtis Driscoll, Matt Grills, Ahmed Jalloh, Mariah Robbins

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2032&context=libphilprac

Library Development in Vietnam

Article Synopsis
Hossain (2013) examines non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) contribution to libraries in Vietnam for the sake of educational development and access to information. NGOs/NPOs assist through services and education to help bridge the gaps in the library system. The academic missions of libraries and NGOs/NPOs in Vietnam are now increasingly similar which is crucial for the educational improvement of the country. Both acquire and organize information used throughout the country to improve society, expose people to new ideas, and new ways of thinking. However, some libraries in Vietnam have no unified policy for the development of staff, training, programs, and regulations of libraries. The author argues that the many NGOs/NPOs in the country step in to help fill the gap to ensure a better library and education process for the citizens. Many have already started working with libraries and the government to help improve library systems.
NGOs/NPOs and libraries provide literacy and educational advancements and the chance for lifelong learning that can lead to more research, ideas, and creativity in a society. NGOs/NPOs in Vietnam provide library materials needed to build, renovate, and help libraries, including training librarians and providing modern materials and programs. NGOs/NPOs are an integral part of the Vietnam library system. Many NGOs/NPOs help Vietnam society in community development and are part of an informal education network to increase information literacy. The first speaking mobile library for the blind at the General Library of Ho Chi Minh City and the Samsung “Smart Library Program” are NGO/NPO programs used specifically in Vietnam to help address issues and needs in their specific information communities (Hossain, 2013, pg. 10). Furthermore, NGOs/NPOs like the Singapore International Foundation Mobile library help bring new access to the internet for the younger population (Hossain, pg. 11). Vietnam also has a long history of libraries working to help the public, starting with the French in Indochina and its national system today. Vietnam’s library system has over 23,000 state-funded libraries and over 25,000 people working in library services (Hossain, pg. 5).
The article shows the relationship between NGOs/NPOs and libraries in Vietnam and how these organizations are a fundamental part of public libraries and overall education improvements. This is different from how NGOs/NPOs work with libraries in America. The library system in Vietnam has different challenges regarding uniformity and reaching people that NGOs/NPOs help to fill. This article provides an international perspective and examples of how NGOs/NPOs and libraries here in the United States could partner to improve libraries and the services they provide.

Research Question
Hossain researched how many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) were involved in campaigns to increase Vietnamese literacy rates and lifelong learning. Many of these organizations tackled their mission through “building, renovating or patronizing libraries, providing books and other library resources including trained librarians throughout Vietnam” (pg. 6). He sought to explain why NGOs/NPOs focused on school and community library use as the means for fostering lifelong learning. And by discovering how they facilitate lifelong learning in children, Hossain investigates the impact it has had on libraries in Vietnam.

Research Methods
To answer the research question regarding the impact that NGOs and NPOs have had on the literacy rates and lifelong learning of the Vietnamese people, Hossain used several methodologies. These included collecting primary data from these organizations from the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations-Non-Governmental Organizations (VUFO-NGO) Resource Center Vietnam, and then creating an email questionnaire. In tandem with these efforts, the researcher collected literature sources from the internet and local newspapers reports (Hossain, pg. 6). The subject group consisted of 21 NGOs/NPOs that were targeted, with 14 of these groups responding, generating a response rate of 66.6% (pg. 6). The researcher presented 7 study questions, analyzing all the data after the surveys had been returned.
The data that was collected was largely provided by the responding NGOs/NPOs; however, it should be noted that a small number of data was collected from the responding organization’s websites. This cross collection of data also was affected by two other factors: 1) Not all of the responding organizations could provide an exact number of beneficiaries related to the library programs they provided, and; 2) the researcher could not physically visit the areas where these organizations worked (Hossain, pg. 7).
Such considerations should be considered when discussing the primary study questions examined by the researcher. These questions included: 1) How many libraries did the NGO/NPO build/renovate in Vietnam; 2) How many books did the NGO/NPO donate; 3) How library personnel had been trained by the NGO/NPO, and; 4) What was the number of beneficiary affected by the NGO/NPO library program/activities (Hossain, pg. 6). Each of these questions was directed at answering the overall research question presented by Hossain.

Finding and Conclusion
The author’s data displays exactly which reading/library programs NGOs/NPOs created to build/renovate libraries, provide books and train librarians. In total, there were ten NGOs/NPOs programs that built 743 libraries (Hossain, pg. 7-8). These organizations also donated over 1,793,543 books and trained 400 librarians (Hossain, pg. 9-10). The significance of these contributions is the positive impact they have had on literacy rates in Vietnam. The author explains how reading is directly correlated to the presence of a full-time librarian (Hossain, 2013).
The study shows that the Vietnamese government should encourage NGOs/NPOs to collaborate with libraries to enhance learning and the development of communities. And it should collaborate with these organizations in order to enhance libraries and ensure the academic success of Vietnam. The author recommends that Vietnamese library schools should offer more advanced degrees in library science such as a MPhil and a PhD (Hossain, pg. 14). He claims that Vietnamese NGOs/NPOs have limited access to public resources and are not accepted/trusted by the government. However, both are involved in the development of the country. Lastly, Hossain mentions that improved communication between the government and NGOs/NPOs would promote better working conditions for the Vietnamese people (pg. 15).

What We Can Learn
American library professionals can learn a lot from global practice about designing services for diverse populations and as evidenced by this research study. One of the most notable aspects of this study that American library professionals can borrow is the concept of a public-private-nonprofit sector collaboration. These very powerful sectors can all work together to enhance public library services and benefit the community. For example, a private sector organization like Microsoft collaborating with a public organization (library) to upgrade the library’s computer software; a nonprofit like YMCA will then provide resources for a computer class at the library. In these partnerships every organization benefit and it bridges the digital divide in a community. Other areas that we can learn from include:
● Libraries partnering with NGOs/NPOs in the United States to enhance lifelong learning and literacy rates.
● Libraries can seek help from these organizations to help fill the gaps in funding, resources, programs and services.
● Libraries have closed in poor and racially diverse neighborhoods and rural counties, whereas new libraries are opened in white, affluent neighborhoods or metropolitan areas (Adkins, Haggerty and Haggerty, 2014, p. 7). By utilizing NGOs/NPOs, they could reopen libraries that had to close their doors.
● When working with an NGO or NPO, it is important to keep accurate track of data to show which groups are reached by programs and activities.
● Greater data on results can help to focus the organization for better service.
● Organizations can see greater success when they are able to demonstrate that they achieve results from their work and can effectively communicate this with examples.


Adkins, D. C., Haggerty, K. C., & Haggerty, T. M. (2014). The influence of community demographics on new public library facilities. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 51(1), 1-8. DOI: 10.1002/meet.2014.14505101050

Hossain, Z. (2013). An analytical study of some NGOs’/NPOs’ contributions by promoting library activities at disadvantageous areas in Vietnam to create potential and lifelong learners. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), 864. 1-17. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/864

Identifying the Visible Minority Librarians in Canada: A National Survey

Reviewed By: Sherrie Boyd and Cheryl Pugh

Link to article: https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/eblip/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/23294/18396

Article Synopsis and description of how it represents an international perspective

In December 2011, the visible minority librarians of Canada (ViMLoC)) was established through the Canadian Library Association (CLA). The term visible minorities is defined as “persons, other than Aboriginal people, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in color” (Statistics Canada, 2012a). In January 2013, ViMLoC participated in a panel presentation at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference. At the presentation, ViMLoC sought ideas from attendees on the future direction for ViMLoC. Two directions were identified and added to ViMLoC’s agenda, the first one was to gather statistical information on visible minority librarians working in Canadian institutions and the second one was to create a mentorship program. In December 2013, the authors distributed an online survey to gather statistical information on visible minority librarians at Canadian institutions. This survey was the first of its kind with this population in mind. The survey’s primary goal was to obtain data on the number of visible minority librarians working in Canadian institutions.
The information that was sought was in regards to which ethnic group the librarians belong to, are they first or second generation Canadians, education and experience, institution where they are currently employed, what is their position at their current job, and are they employed full-time or part-time. The information is useful to library administrators, librarians, and researchers working on multicultural issues, diversity, recruitment and retention, leadership, library management, and other related areas.

Core research question(s)

The article considered the following research questions:
Which ethnic group did visible minority librarians belong to?
What type of library do the visible minority librarians work in, and what is the number of visible minorities working in those institutions?
What were the professional needs of visible minorities?
What challenges do visible minorities face?

Methods used to answer the research question(s)

Kumaran and Cai used an online survey questionnaire and hoped to achieve two goals. The first was to provide a snapshot of the demographics of the visible minority librarians. The second was to highlight any needs, barriers or challenges that minority librarians face. The survey was nation-wide and sent via email to relevant library association lists such as the Canadian Library Association, Canadian Medical Libraries Interest Group, Special Libraries Association and also on ViMLoC’s website.
The qualitative and quantitative survey consisted of 12 questions (multiple choice, yes/no and open-ended). The survey started with a definition of visible minorities as defined by the Canadian Employment Equity Act (Government of Canada, 2014). Respondents were asked if they identified as a visible minority. If the response was “no,” the survey closed. These were excluded from the remainder of the survey. The rest of the survey was divided into personal and professional questions.
The first several questions focused on the background of the participants, which ethnic group they belonged to and if there were first- or second-generation Canadians. A space was provided for participants to elaborate on their answers. The next set asked about their educational and professional status to learn if they had a professional degree and from which institution. In addition they were asked to identify the type of library, they worked in to get an indication of where these librarians were located. Respondents were provided with a list of job categories from the American Library Association (ALA) website and asked to choose the closest job category and whether they worked part-time or full-time. The final question was open-ended where respondents were encouraged to add any information on anything, they considered relevant. This question garnered a variety of themes: jobs, mentorship, professional development courses, workplace issues, general barriers, networking and success stories.

Findings and conclusions
The survey received responses from 192 librarians who attempted to take the survey, however, only 120 librarians identified themselves as visible minorities. Out of the 120 librarians who completed the survey, 36% (43 librarians) identified themselves as Chinese, 20% (24 librarians) identified themselves as South Asian, 12% (15) identified as Black, 3% (4) as Filipino, 1% (1) as Latin American, 2% (3) as South East Asian, 2% (2) identified as Arab, 5% (6) identified as West Asian (which includes Afghan, Assyrian, and Iranian), 1% (1) identified as Korean, 6% (7) identified as Japanese, and 12% (14) identified as other.
Visible minority librarians replied that they were employed in various types of libraries. 46 librarians (38% of those who completed the survey) stated they worked in a public library. 45 librarians (38%) worked in an academic library. Only 1 librarian (1%) worked in a regional library. 18 librarians (15%) worked in a special library. 1 librarian (1%) worked in a school library. 2 librarians (2%) were currently in library school and 7 librarians (6%) stated they worked in other types of libraries.
Visible minority librarians were located throughout Canada and beyond with the majority in British Columbia and Ontario. These two provinces have the highest immigrant population.
Visible minority librarians were asked the type of jobs in which they were employed. They were to ask to choose the closest job category from the list of American Library Association categories. 38% identified themselves as reference/information services librarians, 18% as other and 15% as administration. Respondents were not required to elaborate on what “other” meant and what types of administrative positions they hold.
Final open-ended question asked visible minority librarians to include any topics/suggestions they deemed relevant to the survey. 50% responded to this question. Of those librarians that responded, they stated what their professional needs were and what challenges they faced while working as a librarian. Some needs that were identified included a need for programs that encouraged and assisted minority librarians in the area of library studies and there is a need for employers to recognize talent and potential and a willingness to take a chance on hiring minority librarians new to the field. Some challenges that the librarians identified were, a lack of networking and mentoring among minorities in the field, a lack of support and access to information on how to succeed as a visible minority librarian in Canada. In addition, there was a lack of diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace, especially at the leadership level. Other challenges were moving up the career ladder, and a lack of opportunities to gain library experience.
The authors believe the ViMLoC should continue to gather these statistics every 3-5 years. These next surveys should include more qualitative questions so the respondents have the opportunity to include other topics/suggestions. These responses can prove helpful in informing future strategic directions for the ViMLoC.
The ViMLoC will also need to consider that not all librarians are members of any of the library associations and look into other ways to advertise future surveys.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations

Key takeaways:
The need to go directly to the target audience to seek their suggestions and guidance about programs and services. This has to be done on a regular basis since communities change over time.
Libraries must continue to recruit and retain minority librarians who can help to provide insight regarding minority communities and help libraries address shortcomings in their programs.
Libraries should be proactive in monitoring the demographic changes in their community. This knowledge can forecast what will be needed in the future and inform budgeting and staffing considerations.
The development of a mentorship network for minority librarians which could pair rookie librarians with veteran librarians from their ethnic group. This could be a virtual pairing so they can get support and advice from those who have successfully navigated their careers.


The Visible Minority Librarian experiences and survey results illustrated an exact mirror image of what American minority librarians face on the job. This article highlighted the need for deliberation and planning where diversity is concerned. Good intentions are not enough. There must be buy-in from administrators, staff and librarian colleagues for success. A change in organizational culture is not easy and not intuitive. On the contrary, it is both painful and personal. With this information in mind, American libraries need to see the importance of having a diverse staff in all libraries. It is not enough to simply have librarians who identify as visible minorities, but they need a network of other librarians who identify with them as well. By having more visible minority librarians, libraries benefit by having more diverse programming available for patrons, patrons who see librarians from various backgrounds. Minority librarians need to be a part of the planning of programs and services as tools and strategies are developed to guide everyone through the change process which supports the idea that libraries are a space for any and everyone.


Kumaran, M. Cai,H. (2015). Identifying the Visible Minority Librarians in Canada: A National Survey. Retrieved from https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/eblip/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/23294/18396

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.

Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library by Valentina Ly

Reviewed By: Rebecca Ebert, Isaiah Espinoza, Katherine Hartrich, Ari Katz, Tiffany Rondon Roman

Link to article: https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/eblip/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/29408/21917

Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library by Valentina Ly

Article Synopsis:

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has a large multilingual (ML) collection that is recognized for its diversity and has become highly lauded as an example to other libraries. The article examines the collection to determine if it is representative of the diverse population of Canada by using data collected from the online public access catalogue (Ly, 2018, p. 17). Besides English and French, Ly examines data from the collection’s top 17 non-official languages. Further data was gathering from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census. The results find that collection is not proportional to the population and considers why, the limitations of the study, and the unlikelihood of a public library building a collection that represents the diverse community. The TPL continues its efforts to represent the community through its ML collection by examining demographic shifts, assessment trends and employing a staff that speaks 34 of the 40 active languages in the collection (p. 28). Libraries from all regions can relate to the TPL’s struggle of building a collection in hopes of better serving the community that speaks the language of the majority and minority. Through networking with other libraries can they share their expertise and knowledge.

Based on Ly’s research, the following are a few core research questions:

How can libraries use census data to monitor population shifts and be responsive to the changing information needs of their communities?
How can large library systems make their collections proportional to the languages spoken within the community?
How can librarians improve relationships linguistic minority populations?
How can smaller libraries learn to develop multilingual collections, resources, and services?
How can libraries best stay aware of the changing demographics of their communities due to migration and globalization?
Is the size of each language collection equitable to the size of the minority language populations?
How many different language collections should be available at the library?
How many items should be available in each language collection?
What are the best formats for the materials based on the preferences of the minority language populations?
How can librarians build their multilingual collections and gather knowledge of other languages?

Methods used to answer the research questions:

In order to answer the research questions, the researchers used a range of data collected from: Statistics Canada 2016 Census of Population (language results), along with the data collected from their online public access catalogue in November 2017. From the latter, they collected all possible data from the available languages, studying more in-depth English, French and 17 more most spoken mother tongues. To compare these, they did the following: aligned the Toronto census division map with the TPL branch map and locations to make sure they were within the same geography divisions to confirm the census divisions were relevant to the TPL system. Then, they compared the data from the census with their own public access catalogue regarding the “mother tongue” and “language spoken most often at home” finding that these were the languages found both at TPL and OPAC (online public access catalogue) as most searched and advertised. In other words, they studied the geography boundaries of said population that spoke those languages according to the data; and also analyzed the languages that were usually more used, searched and advertised at TPL and OPAC.

Findings and conclusions:

The results of Ly’s (2018) case study found that TPL has a collection of items in 307 languages, yet most of these items were in the official languages of French and English. Although TPL collected for many languages, there were actually few items for these unofficial languages. Of the official languages, French was by far the best represented followed by English. Of the unofficial languages, Polish had the best representation of items and Tagalog the worst. Based on the 2016 census, this demonstrates that the TPL multilingual collection is disproportionate in representing Toronto’s population. This is critical as Toronto is Canada’s largest and most multicultural/multilingual city and twice as many immigrants use the TPL than Canadian-born patrons. Although the TPL has attempted to meet the multilingual needs of its immigrant population, their multilingual collection still falls short proportionally to the number and diversity of languages in the city. Ly (2018) recommends the TPL and other libraries apply census data to more accurately build a multilingual collection that better represents their diverse immigrants.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations:

Ly’s use of data to inform analysis of the multilingual collection at TPL is a useful starting point for libraries seeking to understand how well their collection serves immigrants in their communities. However, the publication is also a reminder that quantitative analysis is never enough on its own to determine policy. While Ly compares the raw collection size in each language to census figures for speakers of each minority language, she never queries her initial assumption that these numbers should correlate. It would be important to start such a collection analysis with the question, do immigrant speakers of other languages want native language materials, and if so, what kind? It is possible that immigrants that come to a country would be more interested in borrowing local language materials so as to practice their language skills or read about local topics? Minority language interests may be limited to certain topics, rather than the full spectrum of English materials. In some languages, Tagalog for example, native speakers might rarely read that language. So while Ly demonstrates how to apply census data as part of a collection analysis, her article does connect the data to the actual needs of immigrant communities. Any library seeking to conduct such an analysis could start with Ly’s model, but must then also explore different groups’ reading habits and expectations.


Ly, V. (2018). Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 13(3), 17-31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians

Reviewed By: Brianna Anderson, Jennifer Mays, Julie Smith, Michael Vinyard

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

Synopsis and Research Questions

Hart and Mfazo (2010) found that most of the research and literature on public library service for the LGBT community was done in North America. Because South Africa has a history of struggling to overcome discrimination, the authors saw the need for research on the topic specific to this geographic area. They also found that the LGBT community tended to be overlooked as a minority group with specific needs. Their goals were to determine librarians’ awareness of information needs and how well libraries met those needs.

The research project had three distinct questions. The first was whether or not gay and lesbian library users should be considered a special user group with particular information and reading needs. Second, they wanted to know if public library staff were aware of the human rights issues surrounding services to the LGBT community. Lastly, they wanted to know if the public libraries in South Africa were providing for the special needs of the LGBT community through their collections and information services.


To help answer the first research question, the authors performed a literature review. Answering the remaining two questions involved looking at the collection development policy for the library system and conducting a survey composed of four sections administered to the main librarian responsible for branch collection development at each branch.

The first three survey segments included personal information about the respondent, professional details regarding awareness of the collection development policy and criteria used to make selections, and questions regarding information services. In the fourth segment, the Likert scale was used to help the authors examine the personal views of librarians regarding the provision of resources and services to the LGBT community and how these views may impact library service.

Findings and Conclusions

While the authors concluded from their literature review that the “professional, philosophical and research literature” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 106) considers gays and lesbians a special user group, the survey of 69 Cape Town librarians revealed that only 55% “consciously consider” (p.103) this group when developing their collections.  Even though 79% agree that access for the gay and lesbian community is a human rights issue and 91.5% are aware of policies that mandate a diverse collection, only 29% of librarians who responded agree that an explicit statement should be made in the policy for this user group.  Thus, the authors concluded that overall, the librarians do not consider gays and lesbians a special user group.

The authors describe the findings on how Cape Town libraries meet the needs of gays and lesbians as “spotty” and suggest “librarians’ prejudices might affect services to LGBT people” (Hart & Mfazo, 2010, p. 107). Opinion regarding the provision of services was dependent on size and location of the library.  Only 15% of librarians agreed that the needs of gays and lesbians are met at the city and regional libraries, but 33% of community librarians believed they were meeting needs.  Services were provided in some locations but not the majority, and in many categories, the number of libraries that practice inclusion of gays and lesbians in their regular services is woefully inadequate.  Only 6 of the 69 responding librarians stated that they have community information and pamphlet files for gays and lesbians while 55% of those that have display boards dedicate space to gay and lesbian information.  Librarians in charge of collection development even admit to rejecting LGBT literature based on the perception that it is pornographic. The actual purchase of LGBT books averaged less than one per year and only three librarians reported subscribing to an LGBT magazine or newsletter.  Half of the librarians did not buy any materials for LGBT patrons and 23 of the librarians either could not or would not answer the question, which is contrary to how the librarians said they consider gays and lesbians in collection development.  Their acknowledgement of collection policy did not translate to purchasing decisions. Finally, only 20 librarians reported being approached with LGBT related questions within the last year but due to inadequate study design, the authors could not conclude whether the librarians were able to adequately help those patrons.  The low number of queries may be due to librarians’ lack of awareness of gay and lesbian information needs and the perception by gays and lesbians that librarians are not aware of their needs.

Questions and Future Research

There are a number of areas where future research will be necessary to have a more complete picture of the needs of LGBT patrons in Cape Town and whether those needs are being met. Hart and Mfazo (2010) state that, as a public service and embodying the South African Constitution, libraries should provide “service impartially, fairly, equitably, and without bias” (p. 99). Yet, as the study shows, these are not being provided. The survey showed that the librarians in the Cape Town Library System are self-censoring LGBT items from the library by not buying them, seeking them out, or displaying information regarding the LGBT community. This leads to one of the biggest questions: How can Cape Town, and similar libraries, use this information to change their systems to create an equitable LGBT collection that integrates and displays that collection alongside the existing one?

One of the biggest omissions in the research is on the LGBT community itself. The research conducted is merely on the library system serving this community with very little information about the LGBT community. It would be helpful to know what the LGBT community thinks about the Cape Town Library System’s collection and if they think it is pertinent or helpful to them. How do they view the library and librarians? Do they feel their information needs are being met?

This leads to another area that may need future research: what kinds of information does this community seek and are they finding what they need? An answer to this would help close the gap in the library services. The information that Hart and Mfazo (2010) present is a bit vague in regards to which kinds of materials and literature are in demand. Are these fiction, non-fiction, periodicals? It would be interesting to research what information and materials are physically on the shelf, instead of relying on the answers in a survey. In addition, for the libraries that do include LGBT materials, it would be beneficial to know where they are finding these materials and if these vendors could be put on the list of provincial selectors. Currently, many of the libraries in Cape Town are buying less than one LGBT book a year but the study couldn’t conclusively pinpoint as to why this is the case except to say that it was the librarians’ choice. Are there other factors involved besides possible self-censoring by librarians? One librarian commented that “the Provincial library provides material but no-one has ever suggested buying specifically for the gay community from COCT [City of Cape Town]” (Hart and Mfazo, 2010, p. 105). Perhaps this is a system-wide issue and not just a problem in branch libraries. Finally, this study focused on gays and lesbians, but the LGBTQ+ community is a broad of spectrum of people and further investigation on the variety of needs is warranted.


Unfortunately, Hart and Mfazo’s research showed that there is a definite gap in public library services to the LGBT communities of Cape Town. The library system has a lot of work to do to provide equitable services to their LGBT community. A review of library collection development policies may warrant the addition of purchasing and service considerations for this specific community. Librarians and staff would benefit from professional development and diversity training. This training would enable librarians and staff to better understand the need for information services for all people, as mandated by the South African Constitution.

Hart, G. and Mfazo, N. (2010). Places for all? Cape Town’s public library services to gays and lesbians. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 76(2), 98-108. DOI: 10.7553/76-2-73

Library 2.0, information and digital literacies in the light of the contradictory nature of Web 2.0

Reviewed By: Sherrie Bullard, Michael Hober, Heidi Scheidl, Kayleigh Septer

Link to article: http://www.webology.org/2010/v7n2/a78.html

Article synopsis and core research question(s)

In this article, Koltay (2010) attempts to find connections and differences between professional and amateur content generation in Web 2.0 environments. The paper begins with the hypothesis “that raising awareness of differences between professional content and content produced by the amateurs of Web 2.0 is of extraordinary importance in providing adequate library services, be it in the form of offering content services or information literacy (IL) and digital literacy (DL) education” (Koltay, 2010, para. 1). It is also argued that while technological developments are interesting and libraries enjoy being as close to the cutting edge as they can get, it must continue to be the user’s needs that determine the adoption of new technology.

The article begins by looking at Web 2.0 technology and why it is so commercially successful. It also examines Web 2.0’s connection to amateurism due to the ease with which users can participate. This is contrasted to the professional and educational uses that Web 2.0 provides for librarians and libraries. The importance of IL and DL in different contexts is also considered, such as the importance of engaging in formal IL instruction in academic library settings where an analytic style of information seeking and use is appropriate. However, in public library settings it is more acceptable to facilitate a pragmatic style of information use.

Methods used to answer the research question

The research method that Koltay used to answer the research question is desk research, also known as secondary research. This research method is the gathering and analyzing of information that is readily available in print or published on the internet. Secondary research has been proven to be very time and cost effective because it helps to obtain the large spectrum of information in a shorter span of time and for a lesser cost than primary research.

Many different types of sources were used to find literature that the author could use to support the research question. Peer reviewed articles from professional journals and professional associations that were in print and online and professional blogs were used to find literature. Most of the information is from the United States. However, the author used a few articles of information from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Hungary. The author uses these diverse sources to try to find a balance view of Web 2.0. Although, the author does point out that having a “critical attitude helps to identify the most useful tools that can serve library goals and is the basis for providing adequate information literacy and digital literacy education” (Koltay, 2010, para. 2).

The author set out to investigate the main features of Web 2.0 that contributes to its commercial success, the question of amateurism, and the difference between amateur and professional contents. The role of amateur and professional content in library services, IL and DL and in Library 2.0 were also examined.

Findings & conclusions

As previously mentioned, the purpose of this article was “to prove the hypothesis that raising awareness of differences between professional content and content produced by the amateurs of Web 2.0 is of extraordinary importance in providing adequate library services…” (Koltay, 2010, para. 1). The author understands that “there is no single literacy that is appropriate for all people or for one person over all their lifetime” (Koltay, 2010, para. 31). He also realizes that literacies are changing and require “constant updating of concepts and competencies in accordance with the changing circumstances of the information environment” (Koltay, 2010, para. 31). It should also be noted that when public libraries use Web 2.0 as a service, that the tools that are a part of Web 2.0 “can and should be used for different purposes according to differential user needs” (Koltay, 2010, para. 32).

The concept that patrons should have is an awareness of whether they are using the Web 2.0 services for a scholarly need, or purely for entertainment should also be emphasized. Ultimately Koltay (2010) finds that “…the pragmatic style is compatible with amateurism, thus has a place in public library environments, while the analytic style is the ideal for academic users and literacies geared toward their needs should show preferences to this information style” (para. 30). Public libraries have so much to offer their patrons, and by providing their patrons with the knowledge of how to correctly analyze and critically evaluate these tools can prove to be not only beneficial for the library as digital and information literacy teachers, but for the patrons themselves.

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address. &
A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions

Upon evaluating this article, one major question came to mind: What are the most useful tools and how might librarians use them in order to assist users in creating more analytical and professional Web 2.0 content? If libraries make use of Web 2.0 tools, they have the opportunity to develop a presence in the every-day lives of their users by connecting and sharing via various online networks.

Some useful Web 2.0 tools might include: blogs (WordPress, Blogger), wikis, podcasts, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn), image sharing (Instagram, Flickr), and video sharing (YouTube, Vimeo).

Libraries have the opportunity to enhance IL and DL competencies within the user community by way of distributing tutorials using Web 2.0 tools for construction and delivery. This activity might promote more professional Web 2.0 content from their users. Tutorials can be cross-promoted on various social networking pages associated with the library.

Libraries might host IL and DL screencasts on video sharing sites and share the link across other sites, or create interactive tutorials, such as Guide on the Side (GOTS), in order to assist users with navigating virtual resources while they are utilizing them. GOTS offer a valuable constructivist learning experience. Topics might be: tips for searching databases, evaluate sources for bias, make a blog, create a LinkedIn profile, use social media and exhibit “Netiquette”, ethical use of information (copyright and fair-use), guide to web resources that assist children in developing early literacy skills. These activities can help librarians instruct users on IL and digital DL while using Web 2.0 tools.

For further thought: As we move toward Library 3.0, how might the further development of the Semantic Web (or Web 3.0) and its environment of linked data change and enhance the way in which the library can integrate itself into the daily lives of its user-base in terms of information literacy instruction?

Young Adult Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Non-Fiction Collections and Countywide Anti-Discrimination Policies

By Lyn Betts, Melissa Feinberg, Lucy Johnson-Sims, Angela Larkin Crosher, Julia Wells

Link to article: http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/urbanlibrary/article/view/1247

Post by: Lyn Betts, Melissa Feinberg, Lucy Johnson-Sims, Angela Larkin Crosher, Julia Wells

The Background
Although the American Library Association Bill of Rights states that “library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves” (ALA, 1996), LGBTQ populations continue to be underserved by public library collections, particularly in the Southeastern United States. When “30% of teens [cannot] find LGBTQ-related materials they want…and only 20% [feel] safe from harassment in their local public libraries”(Martin & Murdock, 2007), you know something needs to change.

Glossary of Terms
Collection: Only non-fiction appropriate for the young adult reader is included in the term “collection.”

Gender: Distinct from biological sex; gender is a person’s social and cultural expression of masculinity, femininity, or some combination thereof. A person’s gender identity/expression may or may not match his/her biological sex.

LGBTQ: An acronym for lesbians (females who are attracted to other females emotionally and erotically), gay males (males who are attracted to other males emotionally and erotically), bisexuals (who may be attracted to both males and females), trans young adults (whose biological sex is different from their physical, emotional, and psychological expression of sex) or questioning young adults (who are seeking more information about gender, gender identity, and sexuality).

Young Adult: A person between the ages of 12 and 18.(p. 4)

The Study
Stringer-Stanback set out to test two hypotheses:
1. Counties that have LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinances will be more likely to have YA LGBTQ non-fiction materials in their public libraries.
2. Counties that do not have LGTBQ anti-discrimination ordinances will be less likely to have YA LGBTQ non-fiction materials in their public libraries.

Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were chosen because it is not illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or (with the exception of some counties in Florida) their gender identity.

The focus was on the four most populous counties in each of the five states, and if they had anti-discrimination ordinances. To find this information, the author looked to newspaper articles, county websites and national organizations.

With a list of twenty-three non-fiction books (culled from Lambda Literary Foundation Awards, ALA Stonewall Awards, and an ALA LGBTQ Roundtable bibliography), the author searched public library catalogs in each of the counties, to find out how many of these titles were held by each library.

Why include only non-fiction books? Although Stringer-Stanback acknowledges that fiction titles are also important, the young adult LGBTQ community is also looking for “real stories by real people” (Martin & Murdock, 2007).

There was no relationship between anti-discrimination ordinances and the volume of LGBTQ material.
More demographically diverse counties had more LGBTQ titles.

Thoughts and Questions

Demographics and Budgets
1. Budgets of the libraries were not taken into account. Even though the counties were chosen by total population, budgets of each library system may vary widely between the counties.
2. Libraries with no or few members of a community may, by necessity (financial for example), have smaller collections of items that are for that community. Knowing the demographics of the community (how many members identify as LGBTQ) is valuable to knowing if a community is being adequately served.
3. What are the socio-economic and education levels of the library communities in the study? Could these factors affect collection development?
4. What are the religious beliefs of the counties surveyed? Would these demographics play a role?

The Materials

1. Only twenty-three non-fiction titles were searched for in the catalogs. Could there have been a larger collection of both fiction and non-fiction relevant to LGBTQ youth that were not found in this limited search?
2. Data suggests that more YA LGTBQ non-fiction titles were collected in the year 2000. What factors contributed to this leap in collection development during this particular year?
3. The authors state that public libraries should provide more non-fiction materials to young adult LGTBQ readers in the South. By what criteria (focus on what issues) will selections be made?
4. LGTBQ populations are not a homogenous group. Different needs require different information and material choice.

Ideas for Future Studies

1. Look at the LGTBQ demographics of each county and whether libraries are meeting the needs of these populations.
2. Look at the socio-economic, educational and religious demographics of each community and how these may correlate to libraries’ LGBTQ collections.
3. Do a follow-up study on any changes in these counties. Have there been any other counties that have passed anti-discrimination ordinances since the article was published? Has anything changed in South Carolina since none of the four counties had passed anti-discrimination ordinances at the time of this study? Has anything changed in these counties since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June, 2015?
4. Study the entire collection of LGBTQ-related materials in each public library: fiction, non-fiction – separated by age level. Information needs will differ greatly between 12 year-olds and 18 year-olds.

American Library Association Council. (1996). Library bill of rights. Retrieved from:

Martin, H. J., and Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.