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Access to translated fiction in Canadian public libraries

Keren Dali (Western University, London, Ontario, Canada)
Lana Alsabbagh (Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 10 November 2014




This paper aims to investigate the quality of access to translated fiction published between 2007 and 2011 in six large Canadian public libraries, answering the question about what public libraries can do to help acquaint their readers with international translated fiction.


The article uses the method of bibliographic data analysis based on 2,100 catalog records.


As the results demonstrate, enhanced bibliographic catalog records deliver a wealth of information about translated fiction titles and facilitate meaningful subject access to their contents. At the same time, promotional activities related to translated fiction have room for improvement.

Practical implications

Despite the fact that the study focuses on public libraries, its findings will be of interest not only to public but also academic librarians, any librarian tasked with the selection and acquisition of translated fiction, reference and readers’ advisory librarians in any type of library, Library and Information Science students and anyone interested in access to translated fiction.


While many recent studies have turned their attention to enhanced catalog records and their role in access, discovery and collection promotion, there are no studies dealing with translated fiction specifically. The article also contributes to seeing an in-depth understanding of bibliographic records and cataloging as part and parcel of reference librarians’ knowledge and skill set, which improves retrieval practices and access provision.



The authors thank Alexandra Kwan, a Toronto librarian, for her help with generating the original set of titles and other aspects of this paper; Prof Mary K. Chelton of Queens College, CUNY, and Sharon Bailey, a Toronto librarian and a publishing expert, for their guidance and help; translator Lisa Carter for helping them sort out a complex situation with translations; Joan Keith, a librarian with Ottawa Public Library; and last but not least, amazingly dedicated and helpful staff of Edmonton Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Winnipeg Public Library.


Dali, K. and Alsabbagh, L. (2014), "Access to translated fiction in Canadian public libraries", Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 569-602.



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