4 Jun 2020

Supporting Integration and Diversity


Guest post by Helen O’Connor, Maynooth University Library

Staff at Maynooth University library attended a day long CDP programme on ‘Supporting Integration and Diversity’. There were three facilitators – Camilla Fitzsimons, Philomena Obasi and Veronica Akinborewa. All three are attached to the Department of Adult and Community Education at Maynooth University.

The aim of the workshop was to give an opportunity to think and talk about the impact of increased diversity across the Irish university sector. In recent years, there has been an increase in migrant students, some of whom are international students, and some who have moved to Ireland to work, or to seek asylum from another jurisdiction.   As well as an increase in migrant students, there is also greater diversity in terms of the Irish ethnicity which has contributed to a growing number of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) students on campus.

The workshop was held over two days to give all library staff an opportunity to attend.

There was 25 people in each group. Handouts were given out at the beginning of the workshop and staff were invited to introduce themselves and say something about their name. Staff were then divided into smaller groups to discuss a range of topics, using flip charts. Each group then gave a short presentation to the bigger group. I thought this was really good as it gave people time to think and discuss the different topics.

Conversation topics helped library staff to explore their own cultural identity, to consider the implications of working in intercultural settings, to understand the origins and impacts of racism and to reflect on our own beliefs and theories of interculturalism and diversity.

Evaluation forms were handed out at the end of the day and feedback was very positive.

A lot of people liked the group discussions and several found the session informative, people found the atmosphere relaxed and informal. People thought the facilitators were very clear and informative in their presentation.  

I discovered the word BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), I had not come across this term before. The University has students and staff from many different ethnic backgrounds and we in the library encounter these staff and students on a day to day basis. I think the workshop brought home to me that we are all the same and just because we might have different colour skin or speak a different language, we should treat each other the same. 

The University and the library have a lot in place for students from many different backgrounds.  Perhaps we could expand this and hold a celebration event for all of these groups for them to showcase their different cultures.

Signage is also something that could be broadened to be more inclusive.

One of the highlights of the day was the beautiful ethnic lunch which was enjoyed by everyone.

Below is a listing of some articles on diversity and multiculturalism that I’ve been working on with colleagues.  Hope you find it useful.

ACRL (2012) Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/diversity

ACRL (1990) Academic libraries and the culturally diverse student population


ALA (2013)   Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Academic and Research Libraries: Past, Present, and Future


CILIP (2017) Equalities and Diversity Action Plan


Groarke, Sarah (2019) Attracting and Retaining International Higher Education Students: Ireland. Dublin: ESRI.

C&RL (2007) Achieving racial and ethnic diversity among academic and research librarians


Fallon, Helen and Connaughton, Laura and Cosgrave, Edel (2020) Promoting a Culture of Equality: Diversity Training at Maynooth University Library. An Leabharlann. The Irish Library, 29 (1) Pages 20 - 27


Higher Education Authority (2018) Key Facts and Figures: Higher Education 2017/2018.

Higher Education Authority Key Facts and Figures: Higher Education 2016/2017.


Page 21

Higher Education Authority5 Key Facts and Figures: Higher Education 2015/2016.


Page 21

IFLA/UNESCO (2018) Multicultural Library Manifesto


HE4u2 (2017) Creating Intercultural Learning Environments: Guidelines for Staff within Higher Education Institutions.


HEA (2017)  National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019


Library Trends 2019.   Low Morale in Ethnic and Racial Minority Academic Librarians: An Experiential Study Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, Ione T. Damasco


Mannion, David & Thornley, Clare (2011) The Experience of Chinese students in Irish third level libraries: an investigation of current challenges and an analysis of possible solutions.  An Leabharlann: The Irish Library,  20 (2), pp. 19-27. https://researchrepository.ucd.ie/handle/10197/3607  

Mellon, Bernadette, Cullen, Marie, Fallon, Helen (2013)  Implementing an online training course in disability awareness for frontline staff - Experiences at National University of Ireland Maynooth. Sconul Focus, 58. pp. 27-31.


Mestre. L. (2010) Librarians Working with Diverse Populations: What impact does Cultural Competency Training have on their efforts? Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(6), pp. 479-488

O’Connor, M. & Kerrigan, C. (2013) Cultural Revolution: Reflections on an exchange. An Leabharlann: The Irish Library, 22(2), pp. 11-19.

Parkinson, Orla (1994) Do Irish public libraries have a role in engaging the host society in integrating immigrants. An Leabharlann: The Irish Library, Vol. 20(1), pp. 14-18
http://www.libraryassociation.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/20_1_AnLeabharlann.pdf  Stokes, D. & Molly, J. (2019) The Innocents Abroad: The Experience of two Irish librarians teaching information literacy in China. An Leabharlann: The Irish Library, Vol. 28(2), pp. 4-10.  https://www.libraryassociation.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/An_Leabharlann_28-2_Full.pdf
UUK, NUS (2019) Black, Asian and Minority ethnic student attainment at UK Universities: Closing the gap
https://universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2019/bame-student-attainment-uk-universities-closing-the-gap.pdf  (accessed 9 March 2020)