An Investigation into the barriers faced by international students in their use of a small Irish academic library

  • Orla Foley

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The purpose of this dissertation is to present the results of a survey of international students of the Institute of Technology, Carlow which was carried out during 2009-2010.

There has been substantial growth in the number of international students enrolling in the Institute each year. The aim of this research is to describe their current library experiences, identify the main barriers and service gaps encountered by them in their use of the academic library and to develop some guidelines and recommendations arising from the research on how to better support their library needs and make a positive contribution to their experience of studying outside of their home countries.

A mixed-methods research design combining both qualitative and quantitative methods was used. An invitation to complete a web based questionnaire was sent to all international students in I.T. Carlow asking them about their current library experience, their information seeking behaviour, the language and cultural barriers facing them and any changes to the library service they would welcome. Out of 300 students contacted, 66 took part responded giving a response rate of 22%. This was followed by semi-structured interviews with three international students.

Results showed that English language proficiency remains the most significant barrier facing international students with 60% of the students who responded having problems both writing and speaking English. In addition, the survey highlighted poor participation rates by international students in library inductions or information skills training programs. This problem needs further investigation in order to improve international student engagement in said programs.

International students make a valuable contribution to enriching the cultural and intellectual diversity of the Institute. The library needs to be proactive in addressing the needs of these students in order to provide the library support required for them to successfully pursue their studies
Date of Award2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorAllen Foster (Supervisor)


  • Erasmus students
  • interpretivism
  • data collection
  • information skills

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