Survey Results

Survey and Focus Group Analysis and Recommendations

September 2008


Project Overview

Four libraries in Ontario and British Columbia were identified to participate in a research project designed to develop a social inclusion audit tool to evaluate the social inclusiveness of new immigrant youth in urban libraries. Participating libraries were drawn from Toronto, Vancouver, Brampton, and Hamilton. Each library targeted a different ethnic youth group of library and non-library users. Focus groups and walkabout clipboard surveys were carried out to establish youth’s perceptions on several aspects of their community libraries: local presence in the community, infrastructure, signage, collections, programs, physical environment, and youth engagement.

Participant Profile


  • Ages of respondents range from 13 to 26.
  • Average age is 17.
  • Little variance between libraries.

Length of time in Canada

  • The majority of respondents were new immigrant youth who immigrated to Canada between 1989 and 2007.
  • Average length of time in Canada varied for each library, Chart A.
Chart A: Average Year of Immigration for Each Library
Library Average arrival year in Canada
Toronto 1993.0
Vancouver 2003.7
Brampton 2005.2
Hamilton 2006.5

Note: For Toronto, 58% of respondents are born in Canada and 1993 is the average arrival year for the remaining 42%.


  • Average age and length of time in Canada is based on respondents’ feedback from the walkabout surveys and focus group data.
  • The qualitative data from the surveys and qualitative information from the focus groups is analyzed by region and as an aggregate.
  • The report outlines conclusions from the analysis and presents recommendations.



The following section discusses results of the findings of the research in a number of areas which include: visibility in the community, signage, infrastructure, collections, programs, engagement, physical environment, and the library in general.

Library’s Visibility in the Community


  • 67% of new immigrant youth surveyed in Vancouver, 67% in Toronto, 67% in Hamilton, and 33% in Brampton had never seen any advertising of the library except inside the library.
  • The Vancouver and Hamilton focus groups said they preferred exciting and attention-grabbing library posters with fewer words and more pictures.
  • Several youth stated that posters should promote library teen and newly arrived youth programs. The youth pointed out that this was one strategy to attract their peers who do not go to the library because they perceive it to be boring and has nothing to offer them.
  • Youth from Vancouver and Hamilton also suggest that the posters and advertisements should be distributed widely at schools, malls, community centres, neighbourhood houses, and also Filipino community newspapers.
  • It is important to note that youth did not think adult newspapers like the Hamilton Spectator, are effective in targeting youths.


  • 79% of youth from all libraries (83% Toronto, Vancouver and Brampton, and 60% Hamilton), concurred that there was enough signage in the libraries and that it was also easy to find.
  • 79% of youth from all libraries indicated that the signs were helpful in finding their way around the library (Hamilton youth agreed 100%, 83% in Vancouver, 75% in Toronto, and 67% in Brampton).
  • Clearly, pictures on signs make a significant impact as shown in the following findings: Having pictures on signs is “very important” or “somewhat important” for 100% of the youth from Brampton and Hamilton, 92% in Toronto, and 83% in Vancouver.
  • Within the 100% of Hamilton youth who felt that pictures on signs was important, only 40% said that pictures were “very important,” versus 67% – 83% from the other libraries.
  • Libraries with new immigrant youth who have spent more time in Canada feel it is less important to have signs in multiple languages.
  • Chart B below shows that as the average amount of time spent in Canada increases, the percentage of youth who feel it is very important to have signs in multiple languages decreases.
    Chart B: Average years in Canada vs. Importance of Multilingual Signage
    Library Number of years spent in Canada Youth who feel it is “very important” to have signs in multiple languages
    Toronto 15 years 8%
    Vancouver 4 years 33%
    Brampton 2 years 50%
    Hamilton 1 year 60%

Library Access

  • A total of 72% of all new immigrant youth from all libraries have a library card – 67% of them from Toronto and Vancouver, 80% in Hamilton, and 83% in Brampton.
  • Using a 5-point scale where 1 is easy and 5 is difficult, youth in all libraries found information about library membership to be easy to find (2.3 points) and easy to understand (1.9 points).

Although 64% of all youth find the library hours to be convenient, new immigrant youth want the library to be open for more hours during the week and over the weekends, the two charts below illustrate.

Chart C: Percentage of Youth who Say Library Hours are Convenient
Library Convenient Inconvenient
Toronto 64% 36%
Vancouver 67% 33%
Brampton 67% 33%
Hamilton 60% 40%
Chart C: Percentage of Youth who Want Longer Library Hours
Library Week, weekend, evenings Weekend only Evenings only Week only
Toronto 80% 20%
Vancouver 33% 33% 67% 33%
Brampton 100%
Hamilton 33% 67%

Library Computers

  • New immigrant youth in Hamilton use the library’s computers less than youth in Toronto, Vancouver, and Brampton: 40% in Hamilton, 92% in Toronto, and 83% in Brampton and Vancouver.

Library Website

  • Youth use library computers for a number of tasks, and homework was established as the major use across all libraries, 88%.

Only 57% of new immigrant youth from all libraries use the library’s website. The breakdown includes: 40% from Hamilton, 50% from Toronto, 67% from Brampton, and 80% from Vancouver.

Findings indicated that youth are not using the library website because they do not know about it, rather than difficulty in using it.

  • Based on a 5-point scale, with 1 as disagree and 5 agree, youth from all libraries said the website was relevant to their needs (3.6 points) and interests (3.7 points).
  • The above observation is a clear suggestion that an effective communication of the library Website would increase its usage.
  • New immigrant youth from Brampton and Vancouver believe computer programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Dreamweaver would encourage them to use the library computers more. Also suggested tutorials for the programs.

New immigrant youth from Hamilton who have been in Canada the shortest time out of all four libraries, since 2007, stated that tutorials to help them navigate the existing website and a computer program that helps with English lessons will be useful.

  • The Hamilton and Brampton Focus groups suggested that the library website carry more pictures and brighter colours as this could attract the young people to visit it more often.
  • Youth from the Brampton library also want the website to be available in multiple languages, although 83% of Brampton youth prefer to access their information in English.

Type of Collections

  • 79% of all youth surveyed have used the libraries’ collections at some point, and they all expressed a need for more collections, which varied from library to library.
  • New immigrant youth from the Toronto library want more “interesting” and youth relevant collections.
  • Hamilton youth preferred more collections related to ESL resources. Noted that they use the English-as-a-second language collections more than youth from the other libraries.
  • New immigrant youth from Vancouver and Brampton have an interest in cultural and youth materials, and book displays specific to their different ethnic groups. For example:
    • Vancouver: Filipino magazines and East Asian TV dramas
    • Brampton: Tamil DVDs.

The suggested type of collections is related to the level of integration of youth. Therefore, the type of collections preferred can be correlated with the length of time the youth have spent in Canada, as seen in Chart D.

Chart D: Preferred Collections Compared to Years Spent in Canada
Library Type of Collections Suggested Years Spent in Canada
Toronto Youth-related 15 years
Vancouver Cultural and youth 4 years
Brampton Cultural 2 years
Hamilton English-as-a-second language 1 year

Online Library Catalogue

  • Use of the library’s online catalogue varies by 63% across all four libraries: 20% of youth in Hamilton have used the catalogue before, 42% in Toronto, 67% in Brampton, and 83% in Vancouver.

There was no relationship found between online catalogue use and the length of time spent in Canada or the average age of the new immigrant youth.

  • Youth are not using the online library catalogue because 52% of youth from all libraries did not know about it; while 16% from Toronto and Hamilton libraries (8% Toronto and 40% Hamilton) prefer other search engines.

Attendance of Programs

  • Between 17% and 75% of new immigrant youth have attended a library program: 17% from Vancouver, 40% from Hamilton, 50% from Brampton, and 75% from Toronto.
  • For each specific program, there is no significant relationship between age and the length of time spent in Canada, and varies for each library from 0 attendees to 3.

Youth in Hamilton have spent the least amount of time in Canada out of all four libraries, but attend more programs. Their involvement in the library can be a sign of their eagerness to be integrated in the library community. Unlike the other libraries, every youth surveyed in Hamilton has attended at least one library program, see Chart E below.

Chart E: Average Number of Programs Attended per Youth

Library Average Number of Programs Attended Per Youth Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto .75 15 years
Vancouver 0 4 years
Brampton .67 2 years
Hamilton 2.4 1 year

Youth from the Toronto library have been in Canada for 15 years and do not attend library programs because of a lack of interest or time, rather than a lack of knowledge.

  • Whereas, the primary reason for Brampton and Hamilton youth who have been in Canada for less than 5 years, is lack of knowledge.
  • Chart F shows why youth have not attended library programs and the length of time spent in Canada.
Chart F: Relationship Between Length of Time in Canada and Reason for Not Attending Library Programs
Library Reason for Not Attending Library Programs Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto 40% – lack of time
20% – lack of interest
20% – lack of interest and time
20% – lack of knowledge
15 years
Vancouver No percentage: No time, lack of knowledge 4 years
Brampton 100% – lack of knowledge 2 years
Hamilton 100% – lack of knowledge 1 year

Type of Programs

  • While all youth committee’s indicate suggestions to program changes, the type of changes vary with the length of time spent in Canada.

As the number of years spent in Canada decreases the percentage of program suggestions for age-related programs decreases and ethnic or newcomer related program suggestions increases (see Chart G).

Chart G: Preferred Programs Compared to Years Spent in Canada
Library Suggestions for Age-Related Programs Suggestions for Ethnic/Newcomer Related Programs Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto N/A N/A 15 years
Vancouver 89% 11% 4 years
Brampton 40% 60% 2 years
Hamilton 25% 75% 1 year


  • Findings from the walkabout surveys show that new immigrant youth from the Toronto library would like job fairs/or employment workshops added to the existing programs.


  • New immigrant youth from Vancouver feel more strongly about implementing additional programs based on their role as a teen rather than as a new immigrant.
  • 8 different suggestions for age-related programs, 89%, with 1 suggestion for ethnic related programs, 11%. (See Exhibit A).


  • 60% of Brampton youth’s suggestions for additional programs are related to the integration of newcomers, 40% of which are youth related programs. (See Exhibit B).


  • New immigrant youth from the Hamilton library suggest more programs for newcomers (75%) than age-related ones (25%). (See Exhibit C).


Part-Time Summer Employment

Survey data shows that new immigrant youth do not know of the part-time summer employment opportunities offered at libraries: 83% of youth in Toronto were not aware of part-time summer employment opportunities at the library, 50% in Vancouver, 80% in Hamilton, and no data was received from the Brampton Library.

  • 83% of all respondents from Toronto, Vancouver, and Hamilton said they are interested in working at the library with their primary reason being that they believe it would be an enjoyable and good experience (50%).

Volunteer Employment

  • Only 43% of new immigrant youth know about volunteer opportunities through friends, the library, and family.

Libraries where new immigrant youth have spent less time in Canada, show less interest in volunteering than those who have been in Canada longer, see Chart H.

Chart H: Interest in Volunteering Compared with Years Spent in Canada
Library Youth Interested in Volunteering at the Library Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto 92% 15 years
Vancouver 100% 4 years
Brampton 83% 2 years
Hamilton 60% 1 year
  • Focus group and survey results suggest several reasons why youth who have spent less time in Canada lack an interest in volunteering at the library:
    • Discomfort communicating in English-
      • 75% of program suggestions from Hamilton youth were newcomer and ESL programs – more than any other library.
      • 25% more Hamilton youth use the library’s ESL resources more than Toronto youth.
      • Youth from the Hamilton library suggested ESL collections over youth-related collections (Chart D).
    • Lack of knowledge of library programs-
      • 100% of new immigrant youth in Hamilton did not attend library programs because of lack of knowledge.
    • Discomfort working in the library-
      • 100% of Hamilton youth agree that they would feel more comfortable with diverse artwork, furniture, and displays in the library versus 64% in Toronto.
      • New immigrant youth in Hamilton believe that multilingual signs are very important (60% of Hamilton youth versus 8% in Toronto).
      • 40% of Hamilton youth said library hours are inconvenient, the largest percentage of all four libraries, compared to 36% of youth in Toronto.

Physical Environment

Diversity of Staff

  • 69% of youth from all libraries agree that the library staff reflect the diversity of the community: 64% in Toronto, 67% in Vancouver, 83% in Brampton, 80% in Hamilton.
  • 100% of youth from Vancouver and Brampton agree that they want to see more staff of different ethnicities, compared to 60% and 67% in Hamilton and Toronto, respectively.
  • 91% and 100% of Toronto and Vancouver youth, respectively, want to see more staff members from their own ethno-cultural groups; compared to Brampton and Hamilton, 50% and 60% respectively.

These numbers indicate that youth who have been in Canada longer—Toronto and Vancouver libraries—want to see more staff from their ethnic groups, than newly immigrated youth from Brampton and Hamilton.

  • Youth from the Hamilton library who are newer to Canada, 1 year, feel it is less important to see diverse staff members, than youth who have been in Canada between 2 to 15 years, Chart I illustrates.
Chart I: Importance of Diverse Staff Members Compared with the Number of Years Spent in Canada
Library Youth Believing “Very Important” to see Diverse Staff Members Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto 57% 15 years
Vancouver 100% 4 years
Brampton 50% 2 years
Hamilton 33% 1 year
  • Youth from Toronto and Brampton stated that seeing more diverse staff members will help them feel more comfortable and understood, 43% of youth agree in Toronto and 50% in Brampton; as well as making it easier to communicate in their own language, 29% in Toronto in agreement, and 33% in Brampton.
  • Survey and focus group data suggest that youth from Hamilton did not consider it important to have diverse library staff because of:
    • Increased desire for integration:

      • 100% of youth surveyed in Hamilton have participated in at least one library program and on average participate in 1.65 more programs than Toronto youth.

It is also possible that as youth members from the Hamilton committee are the youngest of the four pilot library committee’s, and as they have been in Canada the shortest time out of all four libraries, it is possible that they have not yet been exposed, or can.

Suggestions from the Focus Group data include the development of volunteer programs to mentor new immigrant youth and peer-based tutoring programs.

Diversity of Artwork, Furniture, Displays, Materials for Furniture

  • Overall, 52% of youth indicated that the artwork, displays, furniture, and materials for furniture are culturally diverse, but varies by 47% across libraries.
  • Youth who agree that the libraries’ artwork, furniture, displays, and furniture materials are diverse:
    • 33% in Brampton
    • 40% in Toronto
    • 67% in Vancouver
    • 80% in Hamilton

There is no relationship between how new immigrant youth feel about the diversity of artwork in libraries, and their age or length of time spent in Canada.

  • 82% of all youth indicated that increasing diversity of artwork, displays, furniture and materials for furniture would make them feel more comfortable in the library.
  • Almost 20% more youth from Hamilton, Brampton, and Vancouver libraries, compared to Toronto, consent that they are more comfortable in the library with more diverse artwork, see Chart K, below.

Chart K shows that the length of time spent in Canada may impact the level of comfort derived from diverse artwork, as youth who have been in Canada for the shortest period of time suggests that they would feel more comfortable with more diverse artwork, displays, furniture, and furniture materials.

Chart K: Increased Comfort from Artwork and Furniture
Library Youth Comfortable with more Diverse Artwork, Displays, Furniture, and Furniture Materials in the Library Number of Years Spent in Canada
Toronto 64% 15 years
Vancouver 83% 4 years
Brampton 100% 2 years
Hamilton 100% 1 year

Library in General

  • Using a scale of 1(not comfortable) to 5 (very comfortable), evaluation established that generally, students feel quite comfortable in the library. The average score for all libraries was 4. See Exhibit D in the Appendix.

New immigrant youth from all libraries feel less comfortable in the youth section of the library than they do in the library as a whole. The average score was 3.1.

There is no significant relationship between the level of comfort youth feel in the library, and their age or length of time spent in Canada.

  • Youth from Hamilton and Vancouver libraries had ideas for the physical appearance of the youth section:
    • Teenage-style seating
    • Create small study spaces
    • More “cool” looking
    • Area where teens can get together

Recommendations From Youth

Summary Feedback From Youth


Increase the effectiveness of outreach strategies by targeting new immigrant youth in schools.

  • Schools can engage students by having librarians speak in classrooms (Brampton) and providing “coupons” for free books (clarification required here) and making the Hamilton Public library journal available (Hamilton).
  • Increase visibility of the library in the community by placing posters in malls and community centres, distributing flyers, and free Filipino community newspapers in neighbourhoods, and advertising on the local TV station Channel M. (Vancouver).
  • Brighten up posters that are designed to attract youth by making them more exciting with fewer words, more pictures, and with brighter colours. Posters should also highlight youth programs, summer employment opportunities, and unique youth collections that will communicate the library as an inclusive place for all youth.
  • Introduce a community bulletin board where new immigrant youth can look up employment and housing opportunities, or other community events (Vancouver).
  • Increase the number of library ambassadors (Brampton).


  • Increase library staff ethnic diversity in an effort to make libraries more reflect of the communities they serve.
  • Increase the number of library staff who are able to communicate in languages represented in their specific communities.
  • Increase number of Filipino staff at the Vancouver library.
  • Increase the number of staff who speak Tamil and have visible buttons which allow members to ask them questions in Tamil (Brampton).

Summary Feedback from the Vancouver Committee


  • Increase the engagement of youth by implementing more programs for youth such as:
  • Computer workshops that teach Photoshop, Illustrator, or Dreamweaver applications
  • Visits by Filipino authors
  • Poetry readings, music, or social justice events
  • Employment workshops including résumé clinics
  • Language courses
  • Hip hop workshops
  • Aspiring youth writers’ workshops
  • Programs for newly arrived youth


  • Increase the library’s ethnic collections for Filipino magazines, books, CDs or movies, and East Asian TV dramas.
  • Request youth input when purchasing books, CDs, DVDs for popular youth or Filipino titles.
  • Increase the library’s displays of collections, art, and music to reflect the Filipino community.
  • Increase the number of audio and video collections to include electronic video games or karaoke CDs.

Summary Feedback from the Brampton Committee


  • Implement additional programs for youth, such as:

    • Reading buddies for youth
    • Program for handicapped students
    • Seminars with speakers like Sanjaynath
    • Entertainment/motivational speakers
    • Cultural events like plays or drama performances
  • Offer opportunities for youth to volunteer and lead culture-specific youth programs in their library.


  • Increase the number of copies for language books available for use by new immigrant youth.

Summary Feedback from the Hamilton Committee


  • Install colour printers for use by youth.
  • Provide tutorials on how to navigate the library website.
  • Modify the library catalogue to make the search similar to Google and less spelling sensitive, which will make it more user-friendly.
  • Install a computer program that teaches English. For example, a program designed to repeat a word after it’s keyed in.

Physical Environment

  • Update the youth section of the library by including small study spaces and areas where teens can get together in groups.
  • Increase the diversity of artwork, furniture, displays and furniture materials to increase the comfort of new immigrant youth and attract new users who feel that the library is alien to them.


  • Increase programs for new immigrant youth, including:
    • English-as-a-second-language.
    • Teen mentor volunteers.
    • One-on-one peer tutoring.
  • Implement programs that are more youth related and interesting, for example employment-related programs such as job fairs.


  • Maintain a stock of more current library materials and collections.

Appendix A – Exhibits

Exhibit A: Program Suggestions from the Vancouver Focus Group
Age-related program suggestions (89%) Ethnic program suggestions (11%)
  1. Employment related workshops (résumé makeover clinic)
  2. Public speaking workshop
  3. Hip hop workshop
  4. Global issues for teens
  5. Aspiring Youth Writers workshop
  6. Language courses (French, Japanese, Korean)
  7. Educational computer workshops
  8. Social justice, poetry, music, bands, spoken word, and music events
  1. Filipino author visits, readings, artist exhibits
Exhibit B: Program Suggestions from the Brampton Focus Group and Survey Comments
Age-related programs suggestions
Newcomer-related program suggestions (60%)
  1. Motivational and entertainment speakers
  2. Plays and Dramas on educational materials
  3. Volunteer program to fundraise for charities
  4. Summer club
  1. More English-as-a-second-language programs
  2. Reading buddies for youth
  3. Seminar with special speakers like Sanjaynath
  4. Programs for handicapped students
  5. Volunteering program to teach computer in different languages
  6. Volunteering program to teach Word or PowerPoint to other students
Exhibit C: Program Suggestions from the Hamilton Focus Group
Age-related programs suggestions
Newcomer-related program suggestions (75%)
  1. Youth peer-to-peer tutor
  1. ESL programs for non-English speaking new immigrants
  2. Volunteer teen mentors for new immigrant youth
  3. Computer programs that teach how to speak English
EXHIBIT D: Degree of Comfort for each Library Based on a 5 point scale Where 1 is not Comfortable and 5 is Very Comfortable
Library Comfort in the library as a whole Comfort in the youth section of the library Difference (Comfort in the library as a whole minus comfort in the youth section)
Toronto 3.92 2.42 1.5
Vancouver 3.83 3.5 .33
Brampton 4.5 3.83 .67
Hamilton 3.8 3.4 .40

Appendix – Survey Summaries