Research Papers/links

Australian Research

Settlement in the digital age by Centre for Multicultural Youth (2017)

Digital inclusion and newly-arrived young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

First language reading and the role of public libraries by Dr Jane Garner (2022)

In 2021 the State Library of NSW partnered with Charles Sturt University on a project to understand the experience of reading in first language and the role played by public libraries in supporting this experience

Embracing cultural identity in public libraries by Dr Sabine Wardle, Dr Kasey Garrison, Associate Professor Karen Bell (2022)

In 2021 the State Library partnered with Charles Sturt University and Wagga Wagga City Library on a project to understand the impact of embracing the cultural identity of a burgeoning ethnic group in a regional public library. This was a pilot project with the Punjabi Indian Community in the Riverina

What are languages worth? Community languages for the future of New South Wales by Associate Professor Alice Chik Professor Phil Benson Associate Professor James Forrest Professor Garry Falloon (2019)

This report reviews literature on the value of community languages to economic, social and cultural life. It draws on Australian and international research to evaluate the contribution of community languages to the future of New South Wales in these three domains. This report was commissiones by the NSW Federation of Community Language Schools INC.

Defining and Inscribing ‘Multicultural Library Services’ in Australia: A Case Study of the Working Group on Multicultural Library Services (Victoria) by Kieran Hegarty (2021)

Note: This article is available via Public Libraries or with an ALIA Membership

In this article, I survey efforts by librarians to alter collections and services amidst the demographic and political transformations of late twentieth century Australia. To examine this complex history, I focus on the Working Group on Multicultural Library Services (Victoria). For two decades, this independent group were active in positioning public libraries as key to the promotion and endorsement of a multicultural Australia. Using Group archives and interviews with key members, I argue that dominant understandings of recognising and accommodating cultural difference in libraries reflect the limitations of state multiculturalism. To demonstrate this, I focus on two Group activities: the state-wide adoption of the Standards for multicultural public library service, and lobbying by the Group for a national languages policy. While the former adopted the language of welfare provision based on discrete ethno-cultural groups, the latter echoed the emerging policy discourse of ‘productive diversity’. In this case study, I critique the politics embedded in how ‘cultural diversity’ is typically understood within libraries and how library policies and practices are implicated in broader social and political developments. Such an approach offers insight into steady shifts in how the role of public libraries in culturally heterogenous societies have been debated and defined.

Australian Library Job Advertisements: Seeking Inclusion and Diversity by Thompson, K.M., Muir, R., Qayyum, A. (2019)

A growing body of literature is drawing our attention to diversity in librarianship, arguing for improved inclusion through better recruitment, retention, and career advancement of minority professionals. While much of the discussion about diversity in libraries is taking place in United States, this article attempts to extend the discussion, bringing attention to diversity and inclusion in Australian librarianship through analysis of Australian library job ads. This article uses content analysis of 96 Australian job ads posted from 22 January to 3 February 2018 in key Australian library job search engines. The analysis focuses on how diversity is reflected in these ads, with a content analysis of wording focused on inviting diversity in terms of ability/disability, ethnicity and language, and gender and sexuality.

Rethinking Diversity beyond Catalogue Representation: Lessons from Efforts to Develop a Methodology to Evaluate Diversity within the National Library of Australia by Morgan Harrington (2021)

This paper outlines the methodological approaches taken to evaluate the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) collection for its representation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians. Firstly, a quantitative method of catalogue evaluation – the ‘catalogue method’ – in which the NLA’s catalogue was systematically searched using terms derived for the Australian Census of Population and Housing, is presented. The limitations of this method, which included a high number of misleading results, and an inability to capture the complexity of cultural identities through simple search terms, are then discussed. With these limitations established, this paper proposes an alternative approach to evaluating the Library as a ‘living institution’, the aim of which would be to establish how well the NLA serves the needs of CALD Australians. Results of a preliminary attempts at such an evaluation are presented, but an evaluation using this method was not systematically carried out because of time and other resource limitations. By discussing the outcomes of this pilot project, and presenting key findings, this paper aims to provide an informed starting point for any similar future research.

Progressing dementia risk reduction initiatives for culturally and linguistically diverse older adults in Australia by Patel, D, Montayre, J, Karamacoska, D, Siette, J. (2022)

Dementia is a global public health concern, with approximately 487,500 Australians living with this condition. As an incurable disease, collaborative public health approaches are at the forefront for risk reduction of dementia. In Australia, nearly one in three individuals older than 65 years belong to culturally and linguistically diverse populations (CALD), yet dementia prevention approaches within CALD communities remain limited. Current health services and education require a targeted multidimensional and multicultural approach for dementia prevention interventions.

International Research

How Public Libraries Help Immigrants Adjust to Life in a New Country: A Review of the Literature by Grossman S, Agosto DE, Winston M, et al. (2022)

Available via Google Scholar or subscribing libraries.

Public library programs and services offer opportunities to help immigrants navigate daily life in unfamiliar surroundings and a new language. For example, language classes address the social determinants of health as they encourage social participation and community ties and help develop friendships. The purpose of this research was to conduct a narrative literature review to understand how immigrants use public libraries and how public library services influence the social determinants of health for immigrant populations. 

Assessment of Multilingual Collections in Public Libraries: A Case Study of the Toronto Public Library by Valentina Ly (2018)

The Toronto Public Library has been frequently identified as having an exemplary multilingual collection to serve the information needs of the most diverse population in Canada; however, there is no evidence or collection assessment information available in the literature to validate those claims. This research sought to gain an understanding of the current state of their multilingual collection and compare it to the most recent multicultural population demographics.

Introduction: mapping the multiculturalism-interculturalism debate by François Levrau (2018)

Since the 1970s multiculturalist policies that recognize and accommodate ethnocultural diversity have been implemented across western democracies. However, the tide seems to have changed: a ‘backlash against multiculturalism’ has been occurring since the 1990s. While it remains unclear whether this backlash is a matter of rhetoric or if there is indeed a wholesale retreat from multiculturalism, several scholars, politicians and journalists have invoked a pervasive narrative of the rise/advance and fall/retreat of multiculturalism. ‘Interculturalism’ has been introduced as a remedy, being allegedly well-suited to address some of the shortcomings of the multicultural approach. In this introduction to the Special Issue, which is about the key texts of Tariq Modood and Ricard Zapata Barrero, we present and question the nexus between the two terms. How has the ‘multiculturalism-interculturalism’ debate been held so far?

Everyday Multiculturalism in the Public Library: Taking Knitting Together Seriously by Katherine Robinson (2020)

This article brings recent discussions of everyday multiculturalism into a context which has had little sociological attention – the public library. Focusing on a south London library’s newly established knitting group, made up of predominantly older women from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, I show how the library’s framing of multiculturalism, limited to either celebratory occasions or targeted interventions for vulnerable groups, was unable to recognise the knitting group as an everyday multicultural space. Using an ethnographic approach which ‘takes seriously’ the ordinariness of knitting together, I show how the library setting provided the group with a reliable foundation, and attend closely to how, for its participants, the group became a space of multicultural recognition. I argue that the public library has capacity to anchor vital spaces of everyday multicultural conviviality which are not curated as special projects, and that the ordinary positioning of these spaces is integral to their formation.