As a quite Caucasian female, who wears glasses and loves to read, in many ways I fit the stereotype of a typical MLIS student, yet I also represent diversity, in that I am online MLIS student who is studying away from my home country (Canada) at an institution that is neither in the country I am currently living in (Hungary), nor my home country. Although, I have only been in the MILS program at SJSUs iSchool for one semester I know of at least two other students who are in the program studying from a country outside of North America. Several of my colleagues who I interviewed for my previous blog posts were also studying for their master’s degree outside of the U.S.
As online students studying outside of our intuitions’ country we are a special population which needs to be considered when academic librarians are planning their services for online graduate students. While out-of-country students are provided equal access to the online resources, assuming that we are not in a country such as China that limits access the certain internet sites, we do have barriers to equal access to print resources. For myself, living in a non-English speaking country, where I don’t speak the language or understand the public library system it is difficult for me to access print books or even know if they are available. I would expect other students in the same position would have similar struggles, particularly if they are residing outside of a major city.
I emailed our library liaison, Ann Agee (personal communication, November 4, 2014), to ask about interlibrary loan services for students outside of the U.S. at the SJSU King Library and she told me that the interlibrary loan department will mail photocopied materials outside the country, but she made no mention of books, although, the interlibrary loan department will mail books within the U.S. (San Jose State University. King Library, n.d.). Agee did point me in the direction of the “International Resources Research” page which lists national libraries throughout the world. This is a source that might be of use to some students studying out-of-country.
This brings me to my final thoughts. How can academic libraries reasonably serve out-of-country students, particularly those of us who are studying outside of our home culture and may not have the language resources to use local services? This is a difficult question, because even if libraries were to mail books, which need to be returned, to out-of-country students there is no guarantee that the books would arrive in a timely manner or would arrive at all. One solution I have thought of is perhaps the libraries could set up international networks with English speaking institutions such as the Central European University (CEU) here in Budapest.
What solutions can you think of for academic libraries providing print materials to online graduate students studying out-of-country?
San Jose State University. King Library. (n.d.). Online student guide [libguide]. Retrieved from http://libguides.sjsu.edu/content.php?pid=73151&sid=3652763