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Metropolitan Libraries need support of multi language Dynamic Lists for their Staff

8 Mar '19


This is a thought in support of libraries with Multi language staff.

I want to bring to your attention an issue that we have been facing with ILS multi language support, like Koha ILS, that is most of the time overlooked by single language libraries, like in USA, because all of their library staff will use a single language (English) UI including library dynamic lists (i.e. Items Types, Library campuses & branche names, User Groups, etc) while doing their tasks.

Library dynamic lists most of the time are structured on a single language mode only. That is, in spite you may find that multi language UI (screen messages, drop down list , etc.) are enabled to support multi language UI and orientations (LTR and RTL), dynamic lists are saved most of the time into a single name/description column of the data structure of the system, so after you translate name/ description text to another language, you end up seeing the translated text appearing in all orientations.

Let me give you an example using the latest (Aster) beta release of FOLIO. The Users Groups filter in the Users App in the demo FOLIO instance from KnowledgeWare can be shown via (http://folio.maktabat-online.com/users?sort=name , using FOLIO/FOLIO for user ID and password).

Try to toggle between English and Arabic UI using Settings > Organization > Language and Localization (http://folio.maktabat-online.com/settings/organization/locale). You will find that the Users Groups are displayed in Arabic in both UI orientations (English LTR and Arabic RTL).

If you are a library staff member and you understand Arabic, you won’t complain I guess! Just imagine that some of your colleagues in the library do not understand more than a couple of words of Arabic, like مرحبا (ًWelcome) and شكراً (Thank you). You better know these two words if you are living or visiting an Arabic country… otherwise, nothing!

Someone may asks, what a library specialist is doing working in an Arabic country if he/ she does not understand Arabic ? The fact is that over 70% of libraries collections in the Arabic Gulf countries are in English. This means that most of the library staff dong cataloging and acquisition tasks must be fluent in English, and mostly they are colleagues from Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Philippines. I am sure they understand the two words, welcome and thank you in Arabic, but I definitely sure that 90% of them do not understand the content of the Users Groups List shown above.

If do not understand Arabic, and you are working say in Cataloging, I would like to invite you to visit the Inventory app while in English UI (http://folio.maktabat-online.com/inventory?filters=&sort=Title). See the Resources Type list and the Library Locations list displayed in a language you see as Gibberish, and tell me how you feel, specially if your Arabic colleague charges you per word translation… Just kidding!

Tha same can be said about library staff users who do not understand English and the library chosen to have all their dynamic lists in English only! I think you got the message!

I have been asking for this issue to be put in consideration back on March 2017 (2017-03-03 Internationalization SIG Meeting Invitation and Agenda) when FOLIO was in the design stage. I believe @Peter_Murray has passed this issue to the developers back then.

This is a serious issue for libraries in the Arabic GCC region, and I can say it will be a show stopper for so many libraries in this region since they will have big challenges in forcing all their metropolitan staff to run the library using a single language library policies UI through a single language Dynamic lists.