Investigating and Proffering Solutions to the Information Seeking Behaviour of Immigrants in the United Kingdom

Reviewed By: Sabah Abdulla, Devon Cahill, Catherine Mulligan, Vernon Stephens and Karla Quintero

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2336/

Synopsis
Adekanmbi’s article examines the information seeking behavior of immigrants in the UK with its main focus on asylum seekers. The author’s method of research is a systematic literature review of existing data collected by several researchers who had different findings. The objectives of the study are to: focus on immigrants’ sources of information, analyse their information needs and requirements, investigate the barriers to obtaining information, and investigate the information seeking behavior and determine what can be done to improve access. By the end of the study, the author answers the set research questions and is able to identify the sources and information needs of immigrants to the UK. The author then advises information professionals to adapt to their recommendations to better assist new immigrants with accessing information. This article represents an international perspective in that it helps researchers/information professionals look through a more comprehensive lens and better understand the various immigrant cultures in their communities.

Core research question(s).
New immigrants face many challenges, however, one critical problem is access to information. In response to this, Adekanmbi poses several research questions concerning access for immigrants to free information: Why do they seek access to information? How are they accessing information? And what can be done to improve access for new immigrants? What are their informational needs, for example, for finding housing and employment?
Entering a new country and trying to communicate one’s needs to someone who does not speak the same language creates anxiety. The author’s research shows that new immigrants overcome this obstacle by communicating through their social networks and through friends rather than seeking out city agencies. This is primarily because of the language barrier. Through social networks, they find out where to access trustworthy information to accomplish their goals of attaining goods and services.
What can cities do to improve how they provide new immigrants with access to free and fair information? According to the research, city agencies should keep lines of communication simple. For the author, libraries play an essential role for new people arriving in a new country because information professionals strive to offer free and fair access respectfully.

Methodology
Adekanmbi’s research questions, analysis, and conclusion are derived from an aggregate of existing research via an extended literature review on the topic rather than original research. The cited resources are selected for their relevance to the three core focuses of the research questions: information needs, information sources, and information barriers of recent immigrants. In the article, both data and anecdotal information are used as the foundation for the thesis and conclusion.

The author describes their approach as “taxonomic description,” which allows for a multi-level categorization of pertinent information beginning with high level concepts (themes) and narrowing down to related sub-concepts. The author chooses this method so that the reader can follow their argument efficiently. Although the author’s focus is immigrant information seekers in the UK, they rely on mostly international findings to formulate their study because little research has been done in the UK.

Interestingly, the author notes that a limitation in this study is the trustworthiness of the methodology of the resources used. It seems obvious, therefore, that a UK specific study is still desperately needed to determine the information seeking behaviors of immigrants there. However, the information collected and analyzed here is a good starting point for such a project.

Findings and conclusions
Information Needs: For Adekanmbi, the recurring informational needs of immigrants in the UK corresponds to health, education, employment, legal/political, and housing. The author divides these into two main groups of information: orienting and problem-specific. Orienting information pertains to the new culture and life in a new country; cultural and religious situations; identity, and other more extensive societal contexts. Problem-specific information consists of language, employment, health, legal, education, recreation, transportation, and banking.

Information Sources: The author finds that new immigrants first seek a trusted person or social networks for easy access and to communicate in person. They use the media or the internet when friends are unable to provide answers. Community organizations and job centers also provide information on policies and procedures and access to the wider community.

Information Barriers: The major constraints that prevent immigrants from getting information are limited access, inadequate language proficiency, structural barriers, and cultural differences. These obstacles stem from a wider context of migrant settlement issues.

Conclusion
The aim of Adekanmbi’s study is to investigate the information seeking behavior of recent immigrants and to propose solutions. The research is based on an analysis of existing data in this field. The author’s findings indicate that, for immigrants, access to information directly influences how quickly they settle into UK society.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
Since some immigrants are not used to using libraries in their home countries, outreach and networking with community organizations and possibly other trusted government agencies are essential. Adekanmbi’s findings show that new immigrants are first and foremost looking for someone they can trust to provide the information they need. Hopefully, through successful networking, new immigrants will learn that a library is a place they can trust.
Public libraries in the U.S. and other countries, provide immigrants, particularly asylum seekers, a safe, friendly, and free place to find what they are looking for. Libraries offer free access to the internet and supportive resources, often in an immigrant’s native language, and services that help them not only adapt to their new found home but also guidance and information pertaining to the country they have moved from.

The author lists three steps libraries can take to design services for diverse populations that can apply to any local context: (1) get to know the community you are serving by collecting necessary data, (2) get prepared by tailoring the library’s mission to support multicultural populations, and (3) recognize new opportunities for innovative programs and services the library can provide by communicating respectfully with immigrant populations, assessing what their needs are, and adjusting accordingly.

References
Adekanmbi, O. F. (2019). Investigating and Proffering Solutions to the Information Seeking Behaviour of Immigrants in the United Kingdom.