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Costly Omissions: Employment Barriers for Experienced Librarians, in particular with foreign training By Dr. Ganga B. Dakshinamurti Albert D. Cohen Management.

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Presentation on theme: "Costly Omissions: Employment Barriers for Experienced Librarians, in particular with foreign training By Dr. Ganga B. Dakshinamurti Albert D. Cohen Management."— Presentation transcript:

1 Costly Omissions: Employment Barriers for Experienced Librarians, in particular with foreign training By Dr. Ganga B. Dakshinamurti Albert D. Cohen Management Library The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB & Manjit Singh Brantford Public Library, Brantford, ON Convener: Tara Zarrin OLA, Toronto, January 30, 2009 1

2 Introduction by Tara Zarrin: During the OLA Conference in 2008, there were several informal discussions about employment barriers for foreign experienced/ trained librarians even with MLS degree obtained through ALA-accredited library school programs. This inspired me to discuss this issue further with OLAs new Executive Director, Ms. Shelagh Paterson. As a result, I submitted a proposal to convene a session on diversity at the 2009 OLA Conference. I am thankful to Ms. Paterson and OLA Program Planning Committee for encouraging me to convene a session and for approving my proposal. 2

3 In these difficult times of economic uncertainty, it is necessary for us to have a balanced perspective towards acquiring technical vs. soft skills in our profession. Librarians are special and their passion has helped them to cope with a lot of challenges. It is time to identify everyones creativity/talent and values in a diverse society. Certainly, fluency in a second language for foreign librarians, in addition to their other skills, is important in all libraries. It is crucial to be open to individuals strengths, uniqueness, and capacity, as well as to possible gaps in their training/upgrading that might call for continuous professional development supported by the appropriate library associations, and for volunteering opportunities in libraries. 3

4 It is time to focus on the following issue: How can we all as a team provide the best quality information services to our diverse clients to enable them to meet their needs better, while we make workplace/society more pleasant for ourselves? I trust establishing a constructive working relationship among librarians and key stakeholders to discuss the above matters further would benefit every one of us, and raise the profile of our profession. Let us open lines of communication to share our experiences and challenges. 4

5 We would welcome working with individuals, organizations, and associations who are interested in preparing an action plan that would lead to both short and long term solutions for this issue of diversity. I hope through all of our collaboration and teamwork, we would develop practical solutions to address this critical matter in the near future. We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact us at,, - Tara Zarrin 5

6 Presentation by Dr. Ganga B. Dakshinamurti Albert D. Cohen Management Library Asper School of Business The University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba 6

7 7 The Power of Inclusiveness Globe & Mail: A lesson in Obamas rise to the top: the power of inclusiveness – January, 19/2009 For perhaps the first time in history, a presidents extended family reflects the diversity of the country he leads – January 23, 2009 Concept of inclusion is at the heart of diversity

8 8 What is Diversity? Refers to differences between individuals in terms of age/disability/gender/race/religion/sexual orientation, and/or, social/linguistic/geographic background Denotes a multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious and/or multilinguistic society Is about breaking stereotypes and raising expectations Is about recruiting, developing, and retaining talented people in an equitable manner The focus on diversity is about inviting people in, actively and consciously doing things that bring people forward

9 9 Diverse Populations in Canada – A 21 st Century Phenomena Over one-third of Canadians identify themselves as holding Canadian and one other ethnic affiliation – Canada Census, 1996 A three-fold increase in visible minorities in Canada, with 12.4% in 2001, vs. 5% in 1981 46% of immigrants in 2001 in the working age of 25 to 44, compared to 31% of total population By 2016, one in five may be a visible minority member in Canada – Conference Board of Canada 2004

10 10 Impact of Globalization on Diversity Todays globalized educational and working worlds call for diverse abilities, ideas, experiences and viewpoints Not dealing with the existing reality of diversity would be costly for Canada – economically and socially Canada has a built-in advantage in taking a leading position with its multicultural and multiethnic workforce

11 11 Diversity in Workplace in Canada - Statistics Canada, 2008 # of immigrants with university degree is twice as high as native-born Canadians. Immigrants to Canada face difficulties obtaining jobs that match their educational backgrounds. 28% of immigrated males and 40% of females hold low paying jobs, compared to 10% of native-born males and 12% of females.

12 12 Employment Barriers and SWOT Analysis Ethnic or racial stereotyping Perceived need to Canadianize by losing accent and visible signs of culture Insufficient government policy to ensure employment of immigrants to match educational background – M. Baffoe, Professor of Sociology, U of MB Need for SWOT analysis in workplace to ensure a good balance of hiring diverse groups of workforce

13 13 Strengths of Diverse Workforce in Libraries Libraries are gateways to our mosaic culture Multilingual collections and services increase usage Users from the community feel more comfortable with similar workforce Equality of opportunities will reduce the widening wage gap (14.5% in 2004), and will offer better participation in the workings of information society

14 14 Current Weaknesses of Diverse Workforce Training support not equitably distributed Evaluation of foreign degree – automatic devaluation Disparity in wage even in hourly job Technical skills stressed over soft skills Vicious cycle of call for outside training, delaying employment Considerably longer time to achieve goal and you have to be doubly good

15 15 Issues & Needs Connected to Immigrants Issues educated abroad love their profession & what they are trained for eager to learn more committed to work hard, with high work ethics & integrity may have transferable skills, particularly in non- technical areas Needs may lack Canadian work experience may lack present day technical requirements may need communication skills may be older may need financial support for workplace training

16 16 Pathway for Inclusiveness and Empowerment Praise good performance and establish models Identify gaps in abilities and match them with retraining Have workplace/library associations retraining/courses/ job fairs/resume critiques/volunteer opportunities be freely available for all, not just for new graduates or students Hold entry exams rather than automatic devaluation of earned degrees Support gatherings and networking to share experiences and for mutual cultural understanding Review hiring/training guidelines to ensure balanced hiring of diverse group of librarians, receiving equitable treatment

17 17 Pathways through Library Associations Establishing a committee to study the status quo at workplaces and report at conferences Conducting surveys of librarians to analyze the progress and the need for further work, and posting the results in newsletters and websites for discussion Seek ongoing funding to provide training

18 18 Case Studies: Manjit Singh – educated immigrant, further trained in Canada, employed in Canada Muhammad Afzal – educated immigrant, further trained in Canada, employed in USA

19 19 Conclusion: Diversity is like the five fingers in our hand – each one of us are unique and uniquely needed in what we can do, but we function best when we can work together and yet be distinct. Let us join hands in creating and maintaining an environment that celebrates the richness of diversity!

20 20 An Appeal to All Stakeholders: Along with Tara Zarrin and Manjit Singh, I appeal to all stakeholders, including library associations and library schools in Canada: PLEASE take necessary actions to implement meaningful solutions to correct this costly omission of not utilizing fully our foreign-trained librarians, so that ALL Canadians can be gainfully employed for the betterment of Canada! - Ganga Dakshinamurti

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