The Academic Language Café, more than just coffee and cake. An analysis of how the university library supports the learning environment and integration of students with immigrant backgrounds
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This master’s thesis analyses how the academic library and its librarians support the learning environment and integration of immigrant-origin students through the service known as the Academic Language Café (ASK). The aim of this paper is to contribute to current literature on conversation-based programming within library and information science, this time focusing on the academic library rather than the public library. Mixed methods were used to gather data and ensure that the service could be analysed from all of the attendees’ viewpoints. These methods included: semi-structured interviews with ASK’s coordinators at the University of South-Eastern Norway; observations of the service; and mixed method surveys which were sent to attendees with immigrant-origin backgrounds. The findings and analysis indicate that the academic library and its librarians support the learning environment and integration of immigrant-origin students by providing them with a safe learning and social environment. Information is shared between the attendees, making the service an information ground. As a whole, the findings suggest that the service increases immigrant-origin students’ social capital and it appears to support student retention. Therefore, the academic librarian plays four important roles in the Academic Language Café as a coordinator, intermediary, conversational partner, and information specialist. This shows the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation between the academic library and faculties at other educational institutions who want to implement this service.