Interdisciplinary Partnership Expands Cross-Cultural Competencies of Future Librarians


Students enrolled in SJSU’s Master of Library and Information Science program have a new opportunity to learn another language and study how to meet the needs of diverse communities. The SJSU School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) launched new online courses in Spanish and French during the Fall 2011 semester, in partnership with the SJSU Department of World Languages and Literatures.

SLIS students enrolled in the new courses learn how to interact with Spanish-speaking or French-speaking individuals on topics that frequently come up when library patrons ask for assistance, such as health, housing, and employment. In addition, they learn how to find high quality resources in Spanish or French for library patrons.

The new courses were collaboratively developed by SLIS and World Languages faculty, who received input from representatives of professional associations focused on improving library services for diverse communities. The courses are aimed at helping SLIS students serve culturally diverse communities in the United States, as well as areas of Canada where librarians routinely serve French-speaking patrons.

“We are delighted to offer these new courses, which help students understand how to communicate cross-culturally, how to develop a collection of library resources to serve Spanish-speaking or French-speaking patrons, and how to develop library services that meet local needs,” said SLIS Associate Director Linda Main.

“Our faculty are excited about adapting some of our courses to the specific needs of SLIS students,” said Dominique van Hooff, chair of the SJSU Department of World Languages and Literatures. “Developing language proficiency and increasing cultural understanding will help SLIS students better serve their communities. In addition, they will be able to connect with other librarians from the diverse Hispanic and Francophone countries around the world. It will certainly globalize their profile in their field and make them more competitive in the world market.”

All SLIS courses are delivered online, and the new courses in Spanish and French are no exception. World Languages faculty deliver the courses online, with SLIS staff and student assistants providing support for faculty and students regarding use of online tools, such as the learning management system and web conferencing platform.

The new electives are popular. Fall courses are full, with additional courses planned for future semesters, including opportunities to enroll in beginning and advanced sections.

All students who have completed core courses in the Master of Library and Information Science program are eligible to enroll in the Spanish or French courses. Completion of core courses allows SLIS students to have a baseline knowledge of the discipline, as well as a solid understanding of the School’s sophisticated online learning environment, before enrolling in electives.