European Conference on Information Literacy in Saint-Malo, France. Information Practices and Library Perceptions of International Graduate Students in the United States was presented by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe. She noted that the library at her university (Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA) has been undertaking surveys (e.g. LibQual) for many years. The university has a large number of graduate and professional students, so this was a focus for the 2016 survey, and additionally international students (who form 44% of the graduate student population) at STEM (Science/medicine) subjects. The university partnered with ITHAKA S&R to develop a customised survey. One module of the survey was just for international students.
They had 18% response rate and 492 international students responded (which I think was 10% of the total international students. The data was not anonymised so they could cross reference it with other data sets (with info on programme, gender, library use etc.)
There were slight differences between home and domestic students in terms of valueing various services provided by the librarians (thinking they were more important). Domestic students said it was more important that (1) the library pays for materials they need and (2) the library organises etc. material (though this wasn't a huge, everyone valued this). The international students placed higher value on collaborating with anyone (faculty, students etc). Overall fewer than half of all students had been referred to a subject librarian by faculty, with a lower number of the international students saying they had been referred. In terms of skills, international students place more importance on acquiring and being being supported in developing research/library skills (though again, all the responses rated these highly). International students are also more interested in their publications being seen by different audiences.
Thus, whilst librarians report observing differences between international and domestic students, these differences did not emerge as very large in this study. Hinchliffe hypothesised that the library experience has become more homogenised internationally, as more material is experienced online using the same or similar interfaces.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Saint Malo at sunset, September 2017