University Libraries Publications


Multilingual Information Retrieval & Use: Perceptions and Practices Amongst Bi/Multilingual Academic Users

Publication Title

Journal of Academic Librarianship

Publication Date


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Multilingual information retrieval, Multilingual information access tools, User perception, User experience, International students, Bi/multilingual users


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | International and Intercultural Communication | Library and Information Science | Other Linguistics


In recent years, technological advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) such as machine translation have made it possible for users to access information in multiple languages, even those in which they may not be proficient. The current study investigated the information searching behavior of bi/multilingual academic users, and examined their practices and perceptions regarding searching for information on the Internet and on electronic databases. Bi/multilingual students were recruited from a Canadian university and a community college both located in London, Ontario. A total of 250 (N = 250) students completed a web survey through a link that was embedded in an invitation e-mail. Results showed that though advancements in NLP technology have alleviated some of the linguistic related challenges that some bi/multilingual academic users face while searching for information online, language barriers do still exist for some especially at the query formulation stage. The study found that an increase in Multilingual Information Access (MLIA) tools on electronic databases coupled with appropriate information literacy instruction could be helpful in further alleviating language barriers.