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Auckland libraries as a multicultural bridge in New Zealand: Perceptions of new immigrant library users

Wei Xia Lin (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand)
Eric Boamah (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand)

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication

ISSN: 2514-9342

Article publication date: 2 September 2019

Issue publication date: 10 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to explore how immigrant library users view Auckland Libraries as a multicultural bridge in New Zealand. The research explored the various factors keeping different cultures apart in the New Zealand socio cultural systems and to find out the gaps in the provision of multicultural services in Auckland public libraries. The study also discusses the specific roles Auckland public libraries play in the development of multiculturalism in New Zealand from the perspective of immigrant users.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a qualitative research approach. Semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 participants including five library staff members and ten users of the Auckland library. Thematic analysis (qualitative data analysis, where data is grouped into themes) was used for data analysis.

Findings

Participants perceive that the Auckland Library had an advantage over other citizen service institutions in the development and services of multiculturalism in New Zealand. The participants understand that language, cultural background, beliefs and values are some of the causes of gaps between different ethnic groups, and only by learning from each other can groups enhance mutual understanding between them. The services and programs Auckland Library offer to immigrant enable various interactions among different cultural groups and enhance learning from one another to facilitate their integration into the New Zealand society. The findings show that Auckland public libraries have some gaps in multicultural services. In particular, there are more than 200 different ethnicities in Auckland, but the Auckland library's website does not have the function of a multilingual search tab service, lacks a multicultural book collection and some of the existing collections of books are of low quality, low literary value and so on. The study suggests that these issues need to be improved.

Research limitations/implications

This was small-scale research involving the perspectives of only 15 participants. Nevertheless, the findings provide constructive insight into the development of multicultural services in Auckland libraries that can serve as a useful basis for a broader exploration of more immigrant groups in Auckland and New Zealand as a whole.

Practical implications

The results of this research will provide valuable information for the Auckland libraries to have a better plan for multicultural services in the future. The findings will also serve as a reference for improving multicultural services in the Auckland libraries.

Originality/value

Although other studies have looked at immigrants’ behavior and perception on various issues in New Zealand, this study is the first to look at how different immigrant groups percept Auckland libraries as a multicultural bridge to help integrate them.

Keywords

Citation

Lin, W.X. and Boamah, E. (2019), "Auckland libraries as a multicultural bridge in New Zealand: Perceptions of new immigrant library users", Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, Vol. 68 No. 6/7, pp. 581-600. https://doi.org/10.1108/GKMC-04-2019-0046

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited