The Ins and Outs of a Multicultural Library Orientation Session

The Ins and Outs of a Multicultural
Library Orientation Session
Tony Garrett, Ed. D.
Troy University
November 2011
Questions to Ponder
Popcorn Discussion
Communication Improvement
Library Technology
Questions to Ponder
• Do you notice some international students
appear to be lost when presenting
information during a library instruction
• While working at the reference desk, do you
notice international students do not seem to
understand the instructions given?
• What have you done about it or plan to do?
Popcorn Discussion
• Let’s popcorn issues you have seen in dealing
with international students during library
instruction sessions.
• Let’s popcorn issues you have seen in dealing
with international students while working
with them at the reference desk (both
physically and virtually).
• These students have traveled great distances
and left family and friends to study at your
• All will suffer culture shock at various times
while in your institution? Have you
experienced this – rather in a different country
or different part of the U.S.?
• Many of these students would much rather
ask friends for information than a librarian.
• Many of your students will have varying
attitudes towards the status of librarians as
well as towards female librarians.
• The idea of doing library research may be new
and developing good library skills may seem
irrelevant to them.
• Most of these students would benefit from
hands-on practice in your library instruction
• Librarians need to assess audiences
• English skills can be easily taught in library
• Language barrier makes it difficult to keep up
with lectures or group activities.
• They hesitate to ask questions or take part in
discussions for fear they may appear
• They have problems locating resources and
services in the library, chiefly because they are
not always aware that those resources and
services are available. They also may not be
familiar with the layout of the library.
• They sometimes have problem with
terminology. They do not know what to ask for
because they do not know what the object,
concept, service or resource is called.
• The U. S. system is unfamiliar. Many students
admit they have done little or no library
research, or have had to use no resource
other than their textbooks and class notes and
• They are responsive to instruction-in social
and communication skills which will improve
their interaction with library staff.
• They want to learn about the library early in
the term, sometimes before they know they
have a library assignment.
• They will return for assistance when they have
specific assignments.
• Many international students want to take
notes while on tour or during consultations
and library instruction sessions.
• They are very responsive to lectures,
seminars, or workshops sponsored by the
Office of International Student Affairs and the
• More international students return to say
“thank you” than any other group of students.
• These students come from a variety of
different backgrounds and may not
understand our style of presentation.
• Usually one thorough walk through the library
will familiarize them with its layout.
• These students come from a variety of
different backgrounds and may not
understand vocabulary of the presentation
and/or the examples used in the presentation.
Communication Improvement
• Avoid using complex sentence structure and
• Define and repeat important words or
concepts. Use synonyms for difficult words to
help explain their meanings.
• Avoid using library jargon unless absolutely
• Avoid using slang, allusion, metaphor, jokes,
and unfamiliar references.
Communication Improvement
• Check often for comprehension. The presenter
should maintain eye contact and question
students directly about points which have been
• Use visual aids such as PowerPoint slides and
handouts to make the presentation more
effective. Students in general will often learn
more quickly with exposure to visual aids. This is
especially true of international students, many of
whom come from cultures where learning takes
place through observation and emulation.
Library Terminology
• These resources can be in the native language
only or dual language (native and English).
– Handouts
– Pathfinders
– Libguides
– Virtual/Physical Tours
– Etc.
• International student coffee house
• Get involved in international student
• International student committees and
• Work with ESL department
• International festivals and holidays
• Multiculturalism Week
• Do an international translation of short stories
and poetry presentation with international
• International book club
• International coffee tasting
• ESL clubs
• Cultural Awareness Day
• Fulbright Scholar, if have it on campus
• International faculty expertise to assist with
ideas about various cultures
• Displays of international events, holidays,
customs and costumes in library
• International classics as part of the regular
library collection
• Activities associated with International
Education Week – November 12 – 16, 2011 –
• Institute of International Education’s Open Doors
• ACRL International Student Interest Group
• NAFSA (National Association of Foreign Student
Advisers) – Association of International Education
• Institute of International Education
• International Relations Roundtable (IRRT) of the
American Library Association
• ALA – World
• International Federation of Library Association