Breaking Down Language Barriers with StackMap

Photo: ©Productions Punch Inc.

Photo: ©Productions Punch Inc.

The Polytechnique Montreal is home to an expansively diverse group of students. We spoke with Christine Chahal, Senior Adviser of Collection Development at the engineering school’s library, about how StackMap helps English and French language learners visually identify the titles they’re looking for. 

We’re not a bilingual library, we’re a French language library but we know that a portion of our clientele doesn’t speak French. There’s a lot of information on our library site that’s translated, and we offer not all of our services but most of them in both English and French.

We have a lot of customers from North Africa and some from the Middle East. Arabic might be their first language or Farsi or something else, and StackMap puts them in the right direction. Most of my colleagues are all bilingual. We live in a multilingual society here. This notion of having to spend a little more time to communicate with somebody whose first language is not French or English is certainly second nature for our staff.

We have students from everywhere and we understand that sometimes there’s a language barrier so we do our best to communicate with them, in French and in English, and StackMap is just one more tool that helps relay some information in a very clear manner. 

Some people who aren’t comfortable in French aren’t necessarily comfortable in English. They might be learning their third language. StackMap does definitely help transmit the information.  With it, we can skip a lot of the word part. They’ll visually read the map and find what they’re looking for. 

—Christine Chahal, Senior Adviser of Collection Development at the Polytechnique Montreal Library

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