Impact of Cultural Intelligence within Special Libraries: Focus Group Findings and Overall Results

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12th Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries International Conference

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As the information profession shifts, special librarians need to adjust their way of doing business to stay competitive. The market is global, and this impacts the service levels that information professionals provide. Special librarians must be culturally intelligent in order to work effectively to meet their user’s needs. How are special librarians embracing cultural intelligence and embedding cultural intelligence within their practices? Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts. In summer 2019, the researcher explored the phenomena of cultural intelligence within special librarians and special libraries around the world. The purpose of this mixed methods research was to learn more about the level of cultural intelligence of special librarians, the application of cultural intelligence within special libraries, and views on how important cultural intelligence was within their organizations. The research study focused on those who currently worked in a specialized setting such as business, government or information centers around the world. A research survey was conducted with 148 respondents as part one which looked at the overall level of CQ of participants, viewpoints about the value and importance to their organizations and within their libraries and was reported in a former QQML journal article. This article focuses on findings from part two of the research related to the focus group responses and overall results of the research project. Focus groups were conducted within two months after the survey completion with 11 participants that opted-in to provide additional input on this topic. The following selected questions were asked of participants: 1) How did you feel about cultural intelligence?, 2) What do you like best about the cultural intelligence model?, 3) What problems or challenges do you see with the application of cultural intelligence in special libraries?, 4) What has gone well due to cultural intelligence within your organization?, and 5) What is one change you would suggest to ensure cultural intelligence is embedded within your library? Participants from around the world who were members of the Special Libraries Association expressed rich responses within the focus groups. Problems and challenges of the application in special libraries were discussed further. Participants expressed examples of what went particularly well within their libraries when applying cultural intelligence. Participants also offered suggestions for changes they would make to ensure cultural intelligence is embedded and included within their organizations. These results are important as they offer insight into how special librarians can incorporate CQ into their daily practices and relevant application to diversity initiatives, inclusive excellence and continuing opportunities for understanding the diverse interactions we have daily.