Wang, Zhonghong and Paul Tremblay. “Going Global: Providing Library Resources and Services to International Sites.” Journal of Library Administration 49 (2009): 171-185.
Providing access to resources for students and faculty via distance or off-campus is part of a library’s basic service mission. Libraries are being challenged to rethink how to promote and implement resources, instruction and access to meet the needs of a global audience. Wang and Tremblay outline how library services are provided after a Global College is relocated to their campus. A growing international population on campuses offers opportunities and challenges for libraries to serve a more diverse student body.
Library services are provided 24/7 in most academic libraries through proxy servers on campus networks. However, providing library instruction off-campus is one area that can be challenging. Software solutions exist, such as videoconferencing, chat and email that make connectivity functionally easier, but libraries are also exploring how to customize options to better meet the different cultural and diverse needs of international populations. Wang and Tremblay provide a literature review that draws from research written about how international populations are served on U.S. campuses, but note that there is little research exploring how U.S. campuses in other countries impact an academic library’s services and mission. Australia, recognized as a leader in providing education to a global audience has moved librarians from thinking “in the parochial to the global” (175).
Supporting online library offerings via the Global College is a priority with the Dean, which makes it easier to engage faculty and librarians. While each Global College site has local offerings for library services and campuses, there is a need for centralized resources available through the Brooklyn campus, insuring that all students had access to databases, inter-library loan, library instruction, and research assistance. A group of librarians at the central campus are dedicated providers of services to the Global Campus and the authors list their best practices for providing services to a global audience. They stress the need to be proactive and work with faculty involved in distance learning, noting that collaboration and “working toward a common goal” are essential for success.
While little in the article comes as new information in terms of library services and off-campus offerings to an academic librarian, it does provide an overview of the benefits and challenges a campus faces when having a large global presence change how they can meet the needs of their new audience. Scalability of offerings is one point that is good for all librarians to remember, as it is tempting to want to individualize offerings, both in-person and online, but meeting the overall needs of a campus is most important. The offering of online modules for individual classes that are more customized for research topics than individual students is one way to meet this need and yet put a face and presence on the library’s resources and available help for the students in any location. There is growing research exploring online library services, but little focused on international students, or unique needs of student populations, so I am interested in continuing this avenue of research beyond this term.