Librarians Promote Global Engagement

by: Lisa Abram, Communications Officer


Historically, libraries have played a key role in record keeping since the third millennium BC, when a Babylonian temple was found to have a number of rooms filled with clay tablets.  Today, librarians play a significant role not only supporting students, faculty and the community, but also in advancing their own research, both locally and globally.

A grant to two UVic librarian researchers has led to better awareness of how Indian students expect to discover and critically appraise scholarly information—and how the Libraries can improve their experiences.

At UVic Libraries, Engineering and Science Librarian Aditi Gupta, and Island Medical Program and Health Sciences Librarian Rebecca Raworth, received a $20,000 Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute’s Institutional Collaborative Research Grant for 2018-2020, for their collaborative mixed methods research study exploring the need for information literacy programs.  The grant, sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, allows Gupta and Raworth to explore the differences and commonalities in the information seeking behaviors and research practices of engineering and science graduate students in India and Canada.


In 2016, the Association of College and Research Libraries adopted a new Information Literacy (IL) Framework, which defines IL as encompassing the discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

Through focus groups with students and workshops for academic Indian librarians, Gupta and Raworth discovered that one of the biggest barriers that Indian librarians encounter is the absence of information literacy instruction in Indian library schools.  The pair demonstrated that by developing IL competencies in librarians through active-learning workshops, they were making an impact on librarians’ ability to provide IL instruction to students at their own institutions.  

“This engagement of Canadian librarians teaching librarians from India and sharing knowledge has already built cross-cultural capacities, and created an opportunity for knowledge mobilization between our institutions,” explains Gupta.

As part of the study, they will develop a series of programs for librarians in India to teach, use, and embrace information literacy instruction, while building cross-cultural research collaborations at UVic Libraries, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.

“We also wanted to enhance the international student experience, a goal in UVic’s International Plan,” adds Raworth. “By conducting focus groups with graduate students in India, we have learned how we can make the greatest impact in helping Indian international students at UVic.”

With the goal of sharing expertise, building partnerships and alliances with their Indian colleagues, and conducting workshops for academic librarians in India, Gupta and Raworth are planning for the future of libraries around the world—one building block at a time.