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Latinos, libraries and electronic resources

Lori S Mestre, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Responsiveness to a diverse population is a pressing issue for higher education today. The need to develop more connections with users from all areas is of growing importance in college and university libraries, especially in areas of computer access and skills. In an attempt to learn of the attitudes and experiences of Latino college students toward learning and using computer applications in an academic library, a two year, primarily qualitative study was conducted with Latinos as participants at one university. As a precursor to this research, a pilot study was conducted using in-depth phenomenological interviewing to learn what it was like for Latinos to use an academic library. Following the analysis of the pilot study, further research was conducted and data were gathered from field notes, observations, group discussions and e-mail journal responses from Latinos enrolled in two courses: an introductory course, Internet for Latino Studies, taught by a Latino professor, and an introductory Essentials of Library Research course, which I taught. Supporting data were gathered through 14 interviews and a survey questionnaire. Out of 137 questionnaires distributed to classes with a high concentration of Latino students, 129 were returned completed. The data were analyzed according to themes and findings are discussed in terms of their implications for librarians and educators. Findings include the following: (1) Social class and cultural capital were found to be more significant than ethnicity or language dominance in library use, comfort in the library, and asking for assistance from library personnel. (2) Latinos, in general, reported performing better and being more motivated when there was a supportive environment with a caring teacher/librarian who treated them as “a friend.” (3) Latinos reported the need for information to be presented in a way that was personally or culturally relevant to them. (4) Latinos were found to use nonverbal communication as an important means for transmitting and interpreting messages. Included in the final chapter of this study are implications and suggestions for improving library instruction to better accommodate differences in computer experience, learning styles, classroom environment and communication.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Library science|Educational software|Information Systems|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Mestre, Lori S, "Latinos, libraries and electronic resources" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9960773.