Give each other HIGH FIVE if, you have traveled to another countryWomen to the right and Men to the leftStand up if, you speak more than one languageRaise your hand if, you have helped an international studentStand on one foot if you work in Public Services
Bridging the language barrier inpublic services: enhancingintercultural communication inacademic librariesNataly BlasEmily MannJune 13, 2013
Dinámica• Dame esos cinco si, has viajado a otro país• Mujeres a la derecha y hombres a la izquierda• Todos de pie si, hablas dos o más idiomas• Levanten la mano si, han ayudado a unestudiante internacional• Parasen en un pie si, trabajas con el público
Activity• Have you traveled to another country?• To the right or to the left?• Do you speak more than one language?• Have you ever helped an international student?• Do you work in Public Services?
Mission– UNCG fully supports and values an inclusive community.– Quality Enhancement Plan: Global EngagementUNCG’s Diversity Profile– Among the top three state institutions with the highest numberof minority students in terms of ethnicityAssessment– University Libraries Diversity & Inclusion Survey– Office of Multicultural Affairs Focus GroupsPurpose– Create awareness of communication barriers– Increase cultural competency among library staff
UNCG 2012 Diversity and InclusionSurveyThe Libraries provideadequate print andonline resources inlanguages other thanEnglishThe Libraries provideadequate print andonline resources ondiverse topicsI am satisfied withhow I’m treated bythe Libraries’ staff.The Libraries’ staffare knowledgeableand can help mewith a wide range ofsubject matter.The Libraries provideadequate servicesfor persons fromdiverse backgroundsI feel comfortableand welcome in theLibraries’ buildings.7 12 16 12 9 1517 20 13 16 11 10284169315716450128206 203186 18821386118268252149243Sample includes undergraduate and graduate studentsStrongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
What makes a library non-welcoming?• Unfriendly, non-diverse staff• Poor communication skills with foreignstudents• Physical barriers to stacks and services• Signs all in English• Inadequate resources on diverse topics
International Students ResponseAdequate printand onlineresources inlanguages otherthan EnglishAdequate printand onlineresources ondiverse topicsSatisfied with howI’m treated by theLibraries’ staff.The Libraries’ staffcan help me witha wide range ofsubject matter.Adequate servicesfor persons fromdiversebackgroundsI feel comfortableand welcome3.473.773.923.713.564.31Scores are based on a five point Likert scale:1= strongly disagree; 5= strongly agree.
Group Discussion• What services and resources are offered inyour library to meet the needs of yourmultilingual patrons?• What is the training and level of awareness ofmulticulturalism and interculturalcommunication among your library staff?
Cultural Barriers• Lack of cultural awareness• Different non-verbal communications• Different role relationships (teacher – student)• “Cultural activities make public libraries moreattractive to get to know the local traditions”-International StudentAdapted from Sarah D. Garner’s study
Functional Barriers• Different experiences with academic libraries• Different research skills• Different experience with technologyAdapted from Sarah D. Garner’s study
Language Barriers• Non-native English speakers• Use of slang, jargon, or idioms• Lack of understanding of library lingoi.e. “check out” a bookAdapted from Sarah D. Garner’s study
How do we identify ourselves?• Gender• Race/Ethnicity• Age• Religion• Economic Status• Sexual Orientation• Marital Status• Political Views• Occupation• Languages• Life Experiences• Hobbies• Culture/Sub-culture• Clothing• Learning/Thinking Styles• Skills/Talents• Beliefs/Values• Concept ofbeauty, friendships, etc• Gestures
MinimizationAn orientation thathighlights culturalcommonality and universalvalues and principles thatmay also mask deeperrecognition and appreciationof cultural differences.
Public Service• Often the first point ofcontact for patrons• Very short time forsometimes complexinteractions• What part of identitymolecule can we see ofpatron?• How do we serve theirneeds?
Patron InterviewGatherInformationwith openquestionsConfirmthe exactquestionGive theAnswerFollow up
WelcomeBe Approachable!• Friendly greeting; smiling• Speaking in a relaxedtone, speak clearly andslowly• Assure patron you arethere to help
Gather Information• Provide your full attention• Non-verbal cues, noddingto displayunderstanding, bodylanguage• Be aware of cross-culturalrules, such as personalspace, eye contact
Confirm the Question• Bepatient, communicationbarriers may increasethe time you spendwith a patron.• Ask the patron to writesomething down forclarification.
Give the Answer• Keep the process clearand simple• Take the time to explainlibrary jargon,such as database orcatalog• Be enthusiastic aboutthe topic
Follow Up• Make sure they gotwhat they needed notwhat you think theyneeded• If necessary, go back to“Gathering Information”
Tips for Communicating Across Cultures• Be patient, don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications, and follow up• Don’t make assumptions, one size does not fit all• Avoid jargon, idioms, and jokes (this includes library jargon)• Utilize teachable moments• Be aware of your body language, such as personal space and eye contact• Listen and pause before responding• Treat the patron like they want to be treated—take cues from them• Be friendly and enthusiastic• Try different ways of communication• View similarities and differences as equally important• Assume you are capable of successfully interacting with others
Beyond the Public Service Desk• Library tours in various languages• Diversity in the library’s collection• Multilingual services, such as tutors ortranslation services• Library materials in other languages• Cross-cultural communication training forlibrary staff
References• ACRL Diversity Standards, http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/diversity• Brothen, E. & Bennet, E. (2013). The Culturally Relevant Reference Interview: How toEnhance Reference Transactions in a Era of Diversity. In Library Sources for MulticulturalPatrons, 35, 297-302• Garner, S. (2003). Bridging the Intercultural Communication Gap at the Reference Desk. LegalServices Quarterly. 22(2), 7-33.• Osa, J. O., Nyana, S. A., & Ogbaa, C. A. (2006). Effective Cross-Cultural Communication toEnhance Reference Transactions: Training Guidelines and Tips. Knowledge Quest, 35(2), 22-24.• RUSA Guidelines http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidelinesbehavioral