Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

 

Abstract

Academic librarians are increasingly concerned about students' information literacy. International students, especially those who learned English as a second language, often struggle to use the library more than their American counterparts. Although the population of international students is on the rise, research on international students' ability to search library resources is limited.Previous studies have indicated that there are significant differences between the library skills of international students and those of US students. This exploratory study examined the ability of undergraduate and graduate international students to identify books, journals, and journal articles and compared it to a small control group of US students. This research design was patterned after Zoe and DiMartino's research on end-user international students in the 1990s. In the 90s, considerable time was spent teaching students how to search for information in end-user databases. Using tracking software in this study allowed analysis of how students acquired their answers and comparison of the results of international and US students. This study, though limited in number and scope, revealed international students use the library more frequently but still may need library instruction on the basics of library skills, such as finding a book on the shelf to identifying parts of a journal citation. Technology is closing the gap between undergraduate and graduate international and US students. Not only are international students coming from their countries using computers and libraries in their countries, the improvements in database user interface has reduced the need to understand library terminology which helps all students to navigate and achieve their research needs. In addition, the increasing use of technology in libraries and the willingness of international students to devote more time and energy to library research is helping to rapidly close the gap between international students and US students in using the library.

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