Culture Guides


Information Needs:

The purpose of the culture guides section of the collection is to expose study abroad students to the country they will be living in before they leave the United States. Learning about the target country’s history, etiquette, customs, and culture in advance can help reduce the stress of “culture shock” and enhance their learning experience abroad. The inclusion of culture guides with other travel guides will make access easier for the user.

Collection Development:


What is a culture guide? It is any work which can inform study abroad students about local etiquette, social customs, or give them a historical perspective on the society. Culture guides should help students learn what to expect from interaction with the local population.


In the academic world, the culture guides section is the equivalent of a geographic area collection, and therefore following an area studies collection policy is recommended. A good example is the East Asian Collection Policy at Wellesley College. This fits the concept of a culture guide because it requires collection of a diverse group of materials such as art, religion and history in addition to travel. However, a key difference is that our collection is not intended for scholarly research but for practical use in preparation for study abroad. The policy we adopt will need to allow for this consideration.


The primary medium collected will be print books although some web resources such as on-line newspapers will be included as well. A second copy of a book may sometimes be purchased if the book is already in the library so it can be collocated with the Study Abroad collection. A brief sample of some general culture guides and country-specific resources using South Korea (Republic of Korea) as an example have been provided below.

Country specific materials selected for the culture guides section should present the user with a representative view countries commonly visited. Some general guides such as the “Kiss, bow, or shake hands” series should also be included. Since the convenience of the user is a primary consideration, the majority of works chosen will be in English or translated into English. Recommendations for materials to add to the collection will be solicited from the faculty and returning study abroad students by means of a standardized form. An example is the suggestion form used by the Wellesley College Library. This is meant to complement and enhance the materials librarians are able to develop on their own.

Maintenance and Weeding:

The maintenance needs of the most of this collection will be the same as the rest of the print collection in the library. The culture guides will need to be monitored for circulation and weeded of on a regular basis to maintain currency. Any works which may be of interest to scholars can be returned back to the general collection. The limited online resources will need to be monitored by the staff on a regular basis to make sure the URLs are still correct and active.

Subject Analysis:

How will the collection be entered into the library catalog? This will be an issue for both the whole study abroad collection as well as the culture guides section. The problems specific to culture guides is that the print materials will come many different subject areas. The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) 6xx fields can reference specific countries but may not capture the more general resources included in this collection. From the sample bibliography, the authorized LCSH for the novel “Silver Stallion” are Korean War, 1950-1953 and Fiction while the LCSH for “Kiss, bow, or shake hands: the bestselling guide to doing business in more than 60 countries” are corporate culture, business communication, business etiquette and negotiation in business.

The solution at both the collection level and for each subgenre will be to add a tag in the catalog’s 6xx field for “study abroad”. We believe this is the most common user term that would be searched on and is an LCSH see also reference term for the authorized LCSH “Foreign Study”. We will also add an additional searchable tag to this field for each specialty, such as “culture guides” or any of the other subgenres that are part of this collection. A physical label on the printed material will also identify it as “study abroad” so that library staff can collocate it with the rest of the collection.

On-line resources will be handled by the website with a link on the library’s homepage mentioned in the on-line resources section of this report. The online resources will be listed on the webpage by category for each of the subgenres. This will make the online resources easily searchable.

Sample Bibliography (with LCSH):

Ahn, Jung Hyo. (1990). Silver Stallion: A Novel of Korea. New York, NY: Soho Press, Inc. ( a Korean War, 1950-1953; Fiction)

Breen, Michael. (1998). The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies. New York, NY : St. Martin’s Press. (Korea(South); History; National characteristics, Korean)

Hwang, P`ae-gang. (2006). Korean myths and folk legends. Fremont, CA: Jain Pubishing Company. (Mythology, Korean; Legends, Korea)

Kim, Richard E. (1970). Lost Names. Seoul, Korea: Si-Sa-Yong-O-Sa Publishers. (Korea, Annexation to Japan, Fiction)

Morrison, Terri and Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands: the bestselling guide to doing business in more than 60 countries. Avon, MA: Adams Media. (Corporate culture; business communication; business etiquette; negotiation in business)

Nahm, Andrew C. (1993). Introduction to Korean History and Culture. Elizabeth, NJ: Hollym International Corp. (Korea, Civilization; Korea, History)

Vegdahl, Sonja Bernice and Hur, Ben Seunghwa. (2005). CultureShock! Korea. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Books. (Korea(South), Social Life and Customs; Korea, Civilization)

Sample of online resources:

This subscription database has many country profiles including culture.

This piece offers a detailed description of dining customs in South Korea. Similar items may be found on other countries.

Newspapers from around the world available free online.

This is one essay of many on the web dealing with culture shock.

This is an online magazine available for free, and this essay has helpful suggestions on how to pick a country for study abroad.


Library of Congress. “Library of Congress Authorities”. Retrieved 12/10/08 from

McGuigan, Glenn. (Spring 2002). “When in Rome: a rationale and selection of resources in international business etiquette and intercultural communication”. Reference & User Services Quarterly 41(3), 220-227, Retrieved on 12/8/08 from

Schwartz, C. (2008, Spring2008). Thesauri and Facets and Tags, Oh My! A Look at Three Decades in Subject Analysis. Library Trends. 56(4), 830-842. Retrieved 12/9/08 from

Swagler, Michelle A.; Jome, LaRae M. (Oct 2005). “The Effects of Personality and Acculturation on the Adjustment of North American Sojourners in Taiwan.” Journal of Counseling Psychology. Vol 52(4), 527-536. Retrieved 12/3/08 in

Wellesley College Library. (Nov 2005). “Collection Development Policy for East Asian Languages & Literature”.  Retrieved 12/3/08 from

Wellesley College Library. (Sept 2008). Suggest a Purchase”. Retrieved 12/3/08 from


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