Alyssa Jocson-Porter (AJP): Please introduce yourself and briefly describe your role with this collection.
Jordan Wong (JW): My name is Jordan Wong, [and] I’m the Library Coordinator for the Governor Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center (GGLLCHC) within the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. We get paid by the word, so we like to use long titles. As Library Coordinator, I’m responsible for the upkeep of our library, as well as assisting patrons with research and inquiries. My role is also to coordinate the usage of our oral history lab and also liaise with the public for access to The Wing’s collections.
AJP: Where can visitors find you and what are your hours of operation?
JW: 719 South King Street, Seattle, WA 98104
GGLLCHC Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Museum Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
AJP: Please describe the physical facilities that house the collection. Overall, what makes the collection significant or unique? What role or mission does the collection address?
JW: The library is located on the third floor of The Wing. Materials are collected with an eye towards the mission of the museum, that is, providing materials that touch upon the rich experiences of Asian Pacific American experience. That being said, the library’s materials are provided [almost] entirely through donations and contributions. Perhaps the most unique library asset is the extensive collection of oral histories, collected throughout the museum’s lifetime.
AJP: How is the collection organized? What various sub-collections, formats, and unique items are included in the collection?
JW: The library’s collection is categorized according the the Library of Congress classification system. Broadly speaking, materials are divided by ethnicity/country of origin and also include audio and visual materials. Among our more unique items, we are proud to host the Coram Nobis case papers of Gordon Hirabayashi.
AJP: How did the collection get started? How was it built? Who are the particular people who played a role in the development or change of the collection?
JW: The museum moved into its current home in 2007, inhabiting a renovation of one of the oldest buildings in the Chinatown-International District. Designed from the start to incorporate a library, the renovation not only provided a space for a library, but an oral history lab, with the mission of recording and archiving community stories. JJ Higgins, née Aviado, former librarian for The Wing was instrumental in establishing the policies and standards for the library, alongside Bob Fisher, collections manager.
AJP: What role, if any, did the local community play in the development/change of the collection?
JW: The GGLLCHC is dependent on donations of materials by community members and patrons. Either through years of personal scholarship and collecting, by specific donations on our wishlist, or simply sharing stories, the community is directly involved in the continued operation of the library.
AJP: What programs are available to researchers, visitors, and community education?
JW: For researchers and educators, the database website is an excellent resource. Anyone can make arrangements to view items from our collection as well. The GGLLCHC also hosts StoryTime, reading Asian Pacific American themed stories for young children on the first Thursday of every month, as well as on select third Saturdays.
This interview was conducted by Alyssa Jocson Porter, with editing assistance by Molly Higgins.
Images provided by the Governor Gary Locke Library & Community Heritage Center.