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Since 2010, University of Washington Bothells international student enrollment increased
eightfold, and Cascadia Colleges enrollment doubled. To address the emerging needs of this
population on campus, the Campus Librarys Assessment Team sought to determine how
international students experience and use library spaces and services, how they seek
information, and what barriers they experience to the access and use of library resources,
including staff and librarians.
After conducting a literature review, collecting existing data from campus partners, analyzing
survey data from the 2013 Libraries Triennial Survey, and soliciting staff feedback, the
Assessment Team pursued research methods that would return rich qualitative data. In both
Fall and Winter quarters of the 2013-14 academic year, members of the Assessment Team
observed library workshops and collected student worksheets for a BCUSP 100: Academic
Transition for International Students course. The team also held two one-hour focus groups in
Winter 2014, centering around questions about student coursework, study habits, and research
processes. Finally, in Spring 2014 the team recruited four students to participate in a photo
diary activity and a one hour follow-up interview.
The results reveal students current and previous experiences, as well as expectations and uses
of libraries, educational environments and campus services. To start, libraries from
international students home countries were mostly used as quiet study spaces rather than for
resources. Access to online resources varied, and librarians were perceived as organizers of
books and information, not necessarily sources for research assistance. However, when
reflecting on their work at UWB/CC, the majority of students noted the library homepage as
their initial starting place when completing a research assignment. Additionally, students
referenced a number of strategic search practices, such as narrowing results by using facets or
specific subject databases. Still, there was a general confusion on how to access materials such
as articles and use the library website and resources efficiently. Finally, aligning with their initial
perceptions, students commented on their information seeking behavior, noting that they first
seek out professors or other students as a resource for research assistance.
Students actively used the spaces and services provided on campus. Preference for study
environments (space/noise level/activity) varied according to person, but all students specified
the Campus Library for quiet work time and group work. The majority of students, especially
those who live on campus, desired longer library hours and had varying levels of comfort using
the 24-hour Odegaard Undergraduate Library on the Seattle campus as an alternative. Services
used by students on campus include the Student Success Center, Career Center, Writing and

Communication Center and the Qualitative Skills Center. Most notable among these was the
campus IT Help Desk, located on the second floor of the library. Many students mentioned the
IT Help Desk as one of the most helpful places on campus and their go-to place for receiving
help. In short, students appeared very aware of the number of services and spaces on campus.
The classroom experience was especially prominent in students comments. Working in groups
was mostly seen as frustrating because other members talked over international students,
discouraging participation. They also preferred having at least two international students in a
group so they could talk to each other. Furthermore, classes that emphasized presentations or
group work required the most adjustment.
Finally, the overall educational/college experience of international students was variable. In
general, they wished they knew the importance of critical thinking and group work in U.S.
college life before coming to study at the university. Other issues that concerned international
students included communication skills and satisfaction with the institution. The general
indication from the analysis finds that international students were more homesick than their
non-international student peers, but also may have more financial security and better social
outcomes than their non-international student peers do.
Based on the findings of the Campus Library Assessment Team, we recommend the following:

Evaluate, modify, and enhance library resources and spaces by: Improving library
spaces and functionality, with an emphasis on moveable furniture, easy access to
conveniences, and clearer signage; involving students in the development of the
Recreational Reading collections language materials; and updating tours/orientations to
include the book scanner.
Increase support available to international students by: Enhancing, improving, and
creating additional library guides and tutorials, particularly around citation tools,
language dictionaries/glossaries, and finding and requesting library materials; and
creating opportunities for building community and opening up communication between
international students and library staff.
Identify evidence-based training and support for librarians and staff: Create a library
toolkit for staff and librarians that includes guides and materials for assisting
international students; provide a forum for students to discuss their experiences and
library staff to ask questions via an international student panel; and consider hosting a
brown bag discussion around a reading discussing best practices for working with
international students.
Share and discuss our process and findings with relevant units on campus, such as: IT
Help Desk, Student Success Center, Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), Writing and
Communication Center, Quantitative Skills Center, Career Center, Information
Technologies, International Student Services, TLG subcommittee, Global Education
Committee (CC), Global Working Group (UWB), instructors, faculty, and advisors across
the academic programs on campus.