Tag Archives: students

Through Indigenous Eyes: Looking for Indigenous Services in Australian and New Zealand University Libraries

Author: Spencer Lilley

Reviewed By: Melissa Batteate, Olivia Mules, Brenna Smith, Ginnea Smith, and Krista Ward-Sell

Link to article: http://www.informationr.net/ir/24-3/rails/rails1806.html


Increasing the number of indigenous students attending universities and ensuring their academic success is a priority of the New Zealand and Australian governments. As technology becomes more and more prevalent in today’s academic environment, equitable access to the numerous library services available to students is a critical component of academic success. The literature review conducted for this article indicated that indigenous students can feel disenfranchised from the library and related services. To better welcome and engage indigenous students, library websites and online content should be reflective of campus diversity and viewed through the lens of an indigenous student.

Researcher Spencer Lilley collected and analyzed data from forty-eight university libraries pertaining to the online services and information available to indigenous students. Lilley’s findings indicate that much can still be done to ensure that indigenous students feel welcome within the university library setting and are obtaining the information needed for academic success. This article represents an international perspective in its analysis of findings and through the author’s stated conclusions as they pertain specifically to the indigenous cultures of Australia and New Zealand. These conclusions could be applied to library settings worldwide with the overarching goal of improving services to historically marginalized members of the population.

Core Research Questions

To accommodate the impact of rapid technological change, many libraries offer their services virtually, accessed through their website. As a result, it is critical that university library websites are configured to be inclusive for all. The following are the core research questions for the article, Through Indigenous Eyes:

Do the formats of Australia and New Zealand university websites illustrate that there are services, collections, and facilities available specifically curated for indigenous students?
After navigating the website, are indigenous students left with the feeling of being represented and included?
Are indigenous students often seen as “non-users” because of the lack of relative information provided on the website?


Forty-eight university library websites were selected for inclusion in this study. Each library’s services, programs, and collections that might appeal to students in the indigenous population of Australia and New Zealand were recorded in an Excel worksheet. This working document focused on reporting six factors that the authors identified as adding cultural relevance to the host library. The object of the study was to identify the responsiveness of these libraries to native populations, and not to rank their performance in doing so. The following six features were searched for and recorded:

Home Page: Acknowledgement of indigenous students and presence of their languages.

Strategic Documents: Inclusion of indigenous population in plans, policies and other official documents that govern staff behavior.

Indigenous Collections: Collections of relevant material other than databases.

Subject Guides and Library Guides: Navigation tools meant to direct students to material that may be of interest and use to them.

Contact Information: For a library representative designated to interface with indigenous students.

Identifiable Indigenous Staff Members: Staff that represent the population and their group affiliation.

These research methods were quite simple, with no surveys, interviews, or long term research projects to observe. Research was carried out online, and the discoveries recorded. All links were followed to wring the most data from available material that is accessible by the public. Researchers were trying to replicate the experience of a student searching available information.

Findings and Conclusions

The following is a brief breakdown of the six factors used to evaluate the websites:

Home Page: Land acknowledgements were found on 45% of Australian universities. 75% of libraries in New Zealand included a welcoming phrase (te reo Māori) on their homepage.

Strategic Documents: 25% of Australian universities had any evidence of consideration of indigenous matters in their documents (none of these were comprehensive). All the New Zealand universities referred to initiatives involving Māori in their documentation.

Indigenous Collections: 17.5% of the Australian websites had any evidence that they had ingenious collections. Contrastingly, 87.5% of the New Zealand websites indicated the existence of Māori collections.

Subject Guides and Library Guides: 72.5% of the Australian library websites had a link to at least one guide to indigenous services and resources. All of the New Zealand library websites had guides to assist users in accessing indigenous resources.

Contact Information: 50% of the Australian libraries had contact information available for staff who provides assistance for indigenous students or in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies. 87.5% of the New Zealand libraries gave contact information for assistance with Māori-related enquiries.

Identifiable Indigenous Staff Members: 10% of Australian libraries have staff that are identifiably indigenous. 75% of New Zealand libraries have staff that are identifiably indigenous.

Libraries connect students with valuable resources and services to help them succeed. Having a library website that is accessible and welcoming to indigenous students is imperative in creating a space where these students feel comfortable going. The library website may be the first contact a user has with the library and thus needs to be inclusive to all. As the article states, “the focus of this paper is not on the structure, content and overall usability of the Website of each library” but rather if any indigenous elements are included in the website to indicate that indigenous students are welcome at the library. Of the six factors that were used to evaluate the library websites, universities in New Zealand had more elements of indigenous accessibility when compared to universities in Australia. However, there is room for significant improvement on both sides. It is also important to note that the findings of this study are limited to only the information that is available on the website.

What American Libraries Can Learn

American libraries can use the implications from this article to design services for indigenous populations. Students from indigenous backgrounds are less likely to be familiar with the library and its services and more prone to perceive libraries as being part of the dominant culture, having nothing to offer them. The library website is where users unfamiliar with the institution will begin exploring, which creates an opportunity for engagement. Library websites should create a strong first impression for an indigenous user, with a welcome note and land acknowledgement. A dedicated web portal that showcases activities, events, and services for indigenous peoples, as well as any specific initiatives, collection materials, and contact information for indigenous staff should be prominently displayed on the institution’s website. The goal of any library serving an indigenous user should be to incorporate indigenous elements into design in such a way that users feel seen, cared for, and welcomed into the library.


Lilley, S. (2018). Through indigenous eyes: Looking for indigenous services in Australian and New Zealand university libraries. Information Research, 24(3). Retrieved from: http://www.informationr.net/ir/24-3/rails/rails1806.html

From school to work and from work to school: Information environments and transferring information literacy practices

“From school to work and from work to school: Information environments and transferring information literacy practices” James E. Herring

Synopsis and core statement-Adrienne
In his article, “From School to Work and From Work to School: Information Environments and Transferring Information Literacy Practices,” James E. Herring utilizes a constructivist approach to evaluate the transfer of information literacy practices from school to the workplace among 14 year-old students in Scotland. Rather than identifying a set of research questions, the author employs grounded theory techniques in the study to explore the transfer of information literacy practices from school to the workplace.

The author reviews the literature related to information literacy practices and the transfer of this knowledge from one learning environment to the other. The literature review ultimately reveals the unique nature of the study in that it focuses on literacy practices of students completing work experience versus those that do not emphasize transfer to the workplace. The study examines the views of students and guidance teachers concerning the respective information environments. Herring explains his findings in the interviews of the participants prior to and during their workplace experience, the technology and formats of information utilized, and the contexts and environments in which they were used. Finally, the author reveals the results of the post-placement interviews and whether or not information literacy skills were transferred from the workplace to the school according to the methodological approach utilized and ultimate conclusions drawn.

Methods -Carla
As mentioned above, this study employed a constructivist approach to explore and develop interview questions. Based on his observations and scientific studies, Herring used knowledge, data collection, and analysis being learned by the individual to interpret the reality of the individual’s experience. The participants in this study were in their 10th year of secondary school. Ten students were selected out of eighty students who were going on work experience. Four guidance counselors were included in this study in order to have a balance of information environments; in this case both the school perspective and workplace perspective. Part of the method was to also have an element of stratified sampling, which the teachers selected students with experience in the work experience placement, small couturier business, large engineering firm, law courts, center for the elderly, and a veterinary practice. Part of their data collection was to conduct interviews with the students and counselors before and after the work experience. The researcher used initial and focused coding to analyze and interpret the data, and clearly discovered definite differences between the workplace and school environment for this sample of students.

Herring found that students perceived distinct differences in the information environments in the workplace versus those in their school. Some particular instances included person-to-person information gathering (more prevalent in the workplace), email usage (more prevalent in the workplace and the Internet (more prevalent in schools by students.) There were also questions that lingered in regards to the transfer of the skills learned. The guidance teachers diverged in their ability to discern if the skills learned were sustainable or short lived. It also seemed that initially the teachers did not completely understand the idea of an “information environment.” The study itself opened up their views on information environments and they agreed that focusing on information environments, specifically, in future studies would bolster the observations the students would be attuned to make during their work experience. Developing search skills were part of a larger discussion in which teachers thought would be an opportunity of focus in future work exchange opportunities.

Herring’s study found that the teens took the idea of information literacy for granted. It seems that people tend to view this idea as an ubiquitous and unfocused object. People, in general, seem to view information as necessary, but do not generally consider how they access, assess, transfer, understand or engage in information gathering practices. This article definitely opens up a larger discussion regarding how information should be perceived as well as explained to student populations that may be gathering information for various reasons.

Questions and future research-Mia
How do students from various demographic arenas compare/contrast with this small study of 10 Scottish students, and what impact does information literacy have upon their long term success?
How would the employees assess their own, as well as the students’ information literacy skills before and after the internship?
Do students universally think less of information literacy outside of school and in the work environment?
Is this a result of their lack of exposure and experiences, or simply due to their immaturity?
Is this an information literacy “problem” that begs correction? If so, how best to correct?
Who is responsible for teaching these skills when teachers are overburdened?
Is it up to the teacher librarian to recruit both teachers and students for lessons on information literacy? If so, how might this best be accomplished?
How is a beginner – average – and advanced user of information defined?
Do students with more advanced information literacy skills have an advantage over others?

“Future research in this area could replicate this study in a number of schools… Implications for the library and information sector are that teacher librarians might focus more on developing students’ ability to create effective search strategies” (Herring 17). It would be interesting to note what this ultimately means for the student and his/her academic and professional future based on the questions above.

Answers- Heather
In order to gain a more comprehensive view of students’ information literacy skills within the workplace, students from all demographics should be studied. A study used to research a larger number of students would yield more accurate results. I believe that students’ lack of knowledge regarding the importance of information skills is a universal issue. Students who have been taught information literacy skills regularly will see more of an importance for these skills. Without these vital skills, students will not be able to find the information they are looking for.

Further research must be done to prove how information literacy skills directly affects students in the workforce, however, teacher librarians, working collaboratively with K-12 instructors, offer critical skills that help students evaluate and synthesize information from multiple sources into a coherent piece of work. This research will make a case for consistent information literacy instruction throughout a student’s academic and professional career. With consistent instruction and practice, students, regardless of their demographic, will be prepared for college and career.