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Book Reviews

The Globalized Library: American Academic Libraries and International Students, Collections, and Practices. Yelena Luckert with Lindsay Inge Carpenter, eds., for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2019. 448p. Paper, $90.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8951-7).

Book cover: The Globalized Library: American Academic Libraries and International Students, Collections, and Practices

It is important to encourage intercultural understanding in our universities. The Globalized Library helps inform librarians about intercultural opportunities and challenges they may not be focusing on. The book provides insights into how collections can be enhanced, students can be served, and librarians can grow by approaching library work from an international perspective. The Globalized Library is a collection of chapters by a variety of authors, organized in five sections that look at information literacy for international students, international student outreach, international collections, library services abroad, and international professional development. This organization aids the reader and captures some of the most important avenues for fostering internationalization in libraries. The book is an assortment of research studies and reports of intercultural programs run by libraries. One drawback to the book is that many graphics are too small and blurry and are thus of limited value.

Supporting student success across demographics is essential to achieving equity in our universities. The first section in The Globalized Library addresses information literacy and concentrates mostly on academic integrity. This is relevant because of the global variation in norms around this concept. The section addresses teaching both homogenous groups of international students and classes with a mixture of international and domestic students. Both in-person and remote instruction are addressed. One of the highlights of this section is chapter 3, which details the experiences of librarians teaching a library orientation course in the Chinese language at a US university. The program described is responsive to patron needs and was met with appreciation from patrons.

To support student success, students must have both academic support and holistic support. Section II, on the subject of outreach to international patrons, includes many good ideas for making international students feel included by libraries. Examples included an international film series, a workshop for student worker intercultural competency, and a series of celebrations of international holidays to welcome international patrons to the library. Another strength of this section is the discussion of differences among cultures regarding their expectations of libraries. Highlights include chapter 11, which examines Middle Eastern and North African patrons’ expectations for US library services, and chapter 13, which examines the experiences of Asian graduate students in US institutions. This chapter opens the reader’s view of patrons to a universitywide lens rather than focusing on libraries in isolation from the rest of the university experience.

Universities strive not only to educate students but to serve scholars advancing knowledge. Scholars depend on libraries to provide them with unique collections to aid them in their pursuit of knowledge. Section III of the book focuses on collection development and preservation of international materials. Some of the special opportunities and challenges of collecting and providing access to diverse collections are detailed. Challenges include erratic funding and support, varying levels of interest in different regions of the world based on changing political relationships between nations, resources made from delicate materials, and dealing with classified information regarding foreign affairs. Libraries respond to these challenges by digitizing fragile and rare resources, expanding collections from a country during periods when relations are good, and networking with each other to merge global expertise. Also highlighted in this section are the efforts required to make unique collections accessible and promote them to patrons who may not be aware of them.

In addition to serving the needs of international students, it is the responsibility of universities to groom students to become culturally sensitive citizens. This can be achieved by providing them with international learning experiences such as study-abroad opportunities and access to collections representing unfamiliar cultures. Section IV of The Globalized Library examines library services abroad. These include designing study-abroad experiences and serving international branch libraries. Both involve logistical challenges. One chapter in the section is authored by the book’s editors, and it describes a partnership they participated in between the University of Maryland and two Russian institutions. The partnership offered learning experiences for both the library science students studying abroad and the mentors leading the trip.

It is not possible for librarians to serve international students and faculty or improve the intercultural competency of their students without developing their own intercultural competencies first. Section V of the book provides ideas for intercultural competency development for librarians. This includes developing international peer communication, hosting visiting scholar librarians, and sending librarians to learn from their peers abroad. The section includes ideas for individual librarians as well as ideas for administrators interested in professional development for their staff. The experiences related in this section makes this reviewer wonder how we can use exchanges within our own country to promote intercultural understanding and develop our professional skills. Overall, The Globalized Library is a good professional development tool for librarians aiming to develop their intercultural understanding.—Sarah Rose Fitzgerald, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Copyright Sarah Rose Fitzgerald


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