Next time taught: Fall 2024 term enrolment for Western graduate students is still open!

Course Objectives:

  1. To gain an appreciation for a variety of world languages and creative solutions to challenges in multilingual contemporary electronic environments.
  2. To analyze the research literature and best practices of facilitating access across languages.
  3. To critically evaluate the technical components of multilingual information presentation, use, and dissemination.

Course Description:

Introduction to multilingual information presentation, access, use, and dissemination in contemporary electronic environments and library settings. Critical assessment of linguistically complex electronic environments and roles of multilingual resources. Emphasis on linguistic, societal, and technological issues in the global information access context. Overview of best multilingual and cross-lingual practices.

Problem Statement:

“The global information society has radically changed the way in which knowledge is acquired, disseminated and exchanged. Users of internationally distributed networks need to be able to find, retrieve and understand relevant information in whatever language and form it may have been stored” (Peters & Sheridan 2000, p. 60). Since language has “the potential to balkanize the information space”, it is important to continue providing “seamless access to the information needed for commerce, security, and society” (Oard 2009, p. 13).

Course Content:

  • Introduction: Multilingual Information Access
  • Linguistic Aspects
    • Languages of the world (language families, scripts, etc.)
    • Bilingualism and multilingualism, foreign language acquisition
    • Translations, transliterations, and encoding
  • Societal Aspects
    • Multilingual cultures and societies
    • Globalization, electronic access, ethics and language barriers
    • Regional peculiarities: Canada, Russia, India, etc.
  • Technological Aspects
    • Multilingual tools and utilities (machine translation, language identification, etc.)
    • Access to multilingual web resources
    • Cross-lingual searching, web browsing, and information-seeking
  • Library and Information Science Context
    • Multilingual thesauri and terminology banks
    • Challenges of multilingual collections
    • International bibliographic data and formats AND
  • Overview: Multilingual information access, use, and dissemination

Methods of Evaluation [Subject to Revisions for Each Upcoming Term]:

Critical Digest (based on Course Part I or Part II) 10 %
Associated Discussion 5 %
Presentation (individual topics TBD) 15%
Associated Paper 20%
Comparative Poster 15%
Cumulative Paper (incl. Course Part III and IV) 25%
Participation 10 %

Sample Readings [with more up-to-date readings offered]:

Oard DW. 2009. Multilingual Information Access. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, ed. MJ Bates, MN Maack: Taylor & Francis

Peters C, Sheridan P. 2000. Multilingual Information Access. In Lectures on Information Retrieval, ed. M Agosti, F Crestani, G Pasi, pp. 60-90: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Poster Session:

Posters are typically presented face-to-face* at the end of the course.To see what a poster session content may look like, please see Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 Poster Session Documented Here.