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Making libraries multicultural: protocol

A protocol establishing the method of consultation between State Library, public libraries and their multicultural communities. Developed by the Multicultural Services Consultative Committee in 1999.


These protocols are intended to guide the State Library of Queensland and Queensland's public libraries in appropriate ways to:

  • interact with their multicultural client groups
  • develop, maintain and provide access to library and information services for multicultural client groups


Consultation is a two-way communication process for receiving and presenting advice and information before final decisions are made in order to influence those decisions.


Consulting with multicultural client groups embraces many different elements which need to be acknowledged and planned for:

  • the needs and aspirations of different groups such as women, new arrivals, refugees, youth, aged, people with disabilities and isolated people
  • cultural expectations, gender roles and cross-cultural interaction
  • the differential impact of immigration and settlement processes on men and women of different generations
  • how to use any language and interpreting services available


  • clarify the reasons for consulting
  • specify objectives in terms of outcomes
  • select the most appropriate method(s) and types of consultation to achieve outcomes
  • calculate the costs and ensure funds are available
  • ensure adequate lead time for all parties to the consultative process


  • identify ethnic community groups by using publications such as the Queensland Multicultural Resource Directory and by seeking advice from Multicultural Affairs Queensland and the Ethnic Communities Councils.
  • make contact with and invite participation of ethnic community groups to help prepare for the consultation.
  • discuss costs and establish guidelines
  • agree agenda and the facilities needed to achieve objectives
  • including documentation, recording of input, speakers, venue, time, date
  • allocate responsibilities and ensure communication channels are open
  • agree on feedback mechanisms and post-consultation strategies

The Consultation

  • ensure all necessary material is readily available and distributed
  • ensure evaluation methods are understood
  • decide what follow-up is required


  • finalise consultation minutes and reports
  • evaluate the consultation within the organising body
  • provide feedback to all concerned according to the agreed mechanisms including explanations why some community aspirations cannot be met
  • plan future consultations in the light of experience gained

Approaches to consultation can include:

  • maintaining contact with community groups and organisations such as Neighbourhood Centres, Migrant Resource Centres, Ethnic Community Councils and the Local Area Multicultural Partnership (LAMP) officers.
  • maintaining contact with Community Settlement Officers (most of whom are attached to the centres listed above)
  • maintaining contact with community based and public sector organisations who provide service to the frail aged, younger disabled and their carers
  • maintaining contact with service providers who work with new arrivals and refugees
  • maintaining contact with service providers who work with the housebound
  • utilising contact with English language teaching programs such as those provided by TAFE and also any community based English language instructors
  • utilising contact with International Students' organisations such as the Brisbane Council for International Students
  • attending various ethnic community functions where appropriate
  • utilising ethnic community communication channels such as newsletters and radio
  • arranging cross-cultural awareness training for library staff
  • arranging "open days" for specific language groups
  • organising displays in conspicuous areas and at significant local events
Last updated
25th September 2017