Multilingualism in the public library: an exploration of the collections of five Sydney libraries
Australia is home to migrants form diverse ethnolinguistic backgrounds and, according to the 2016 Census data, 22.2% of the population speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home. Public libraries provide a range of language-focussed services to Australia’s residents, yet, not much is known about multilingual library service provisions and how public libraries meet the language needs of linguistically diverse communities. This MRes thesis is designed to make a contribution by examining the linguistic profile of the collections of five public libraries in the Sydney metropolitan area. The linguistic profile of the selected libraries is then discussed against the demographic profile of the suburbs they serve. Findings show that the proportion of library resources available in LOTEs in each library is significantly lower than the proportion of residents who speak a LOTE at home. Among the LOTEs present in the library collections, Chinese predominates, even in suburbs where residents speaking other LOTEs predominate. These results have policy implications for home language maintenance in linguistically diverse communities.