Has the integration of international students into the university caught your attention in the Library Service?
Yes, definitely. We´ve noticed that a lot of the international students have come to use our service; particularly this year we´ve noticed a big increase.
What type of books or information do they normally ask for?
Initially they come to ask for the handbooks for their particular programme. We have a great collection of books in English available for students, so if you have English as a second language, you will be able to find a lot of information. In French, however, we only have books for veterinary students, so we still need to work on developing our collection of books in this language.
Which international students do you see round your department the most?
From what the library assistants have told me, it is particularly the Italian students that come to use the library, we also see a lot of French Veterinary students, a lot of Taiwanese students and students who are on the bilingual Dentistry programme, who come to look for information in English.
What aspect do you think will interest the international students the most about the services you offer?
I think all our services are important for them, because for instance, we have the help desk, where we can give the students some initial information about the rules and regulations for library users and how to use the library catalogue.
We also have a service that enables us to find and order books and documents for students if they can´t find them in the library and also a media section where students can access all our electronic resources, which are mainly available in English, so this is a great advantage for the international students, as they can find a lot of information there for their assignments.
The library information point would then be another aspect of our service that we should highlight, especially for the first year students although it is not exclusive to them. Here, we can help students who are finding it difficult to find their way around the library.
- We are very proud of our library, used by all the students in the university
Then there is also the journal archive which a lot of international students use, because there are a lot of journals particularly on the subject of health and architecture, in English. I also think that it is important for them to have a little more personal assistance, because it is very difficult for us to communicate because of the language barriers that exist between us. So, I think in future our assistants should be able to speak some English, in order for us to improve the way we communicate with the international students; even if we make a lot of mistakes in the process, the important thing is that we understand one another. Speaking in French is a lot more difficult for us because we never learnt it at school, but we have a colleague who is able to help us when we need to communicate in French. I think the French students can speak English too, so it´s not so bad!
Can you remember any interesting incidents you´ve had with the international students that you´d like to share with us?
Mostly things to do with the language, the way they ask for things, like; ´where to rent books´, and even sometimes you say things yourself that are wrong and then you wonder how on earth they understood you! They´re normally incidents like this, to do with the language barriers, but at least we understand one another and we have a go!
We´re also planning to have someone on site for a few hours every day, who can speak English and help the international students, this idea has already been approved by the head of research and is now being looked into by Maria José González, the head of the student body population. For the moment, we are just going to offer this service in English, we will think about introducing it in French at a later date.
What do you think international students can contribute to your service and what can they gain from it?
The international students come from universities whose libraries service is probably very similar to our own; a lot of the time however, the students point out that there are things that their university library has which ours doesn´t; so they can actually give us interesting ideas, which we perhaps had never thought of doing and of course these ideas then help to enhance and improve our service, both in efficiency and in effectiveness.
As the Spanish and international students share the study rooms, I think the cultural exchange that can take place here is also very important.
Of all the different nationalities you see around the university, which is the one that you are most curious about?
The international students that I´m most curious about are the Taiwanese and the Hindu students, because their physical appearance is a little different to our own and catches your attention; students from Mediterranean backgrounds have a very similar appearance to our own and we can tell them apart by the way they speak, but these international students are more distinguishable by their physical features. The Taiwanese students also catch your attention because they always come in a little group, whenever we see them coming into the library, we say there comes our little group!
What advice would you give the international students?
My advice would be for them to remember that they are our service users and as such they are key to what we do here, so if they want to make a suggestion we will be happy to hear it and we will always try to look into it, because we want to do the best we can for them as we would for any other student at the university. So if you have a query or question don´t be embarrassed to ask us about it, even if you think it´s silly, it´s probably a very good question. That is what we´re here for, to answer all their questions and to try to help them, especially with their work, research, etc. We are here to help you.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Just to ask the students to be patient with us, in terms of the language barriers. That if they are finding it difficult to communicate with one of the assistants that they should please say so, because there is always someone else who can lend a hand who can perhaps communicate better or speak the language better, so just don´t be afraid to ask!
BOOKS ARE LIFE!