The 2014 Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians: Personal Vision

by Annie Pho, Rose Love Chou and Karen Gau

The Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians (MIECL) is an intensive, one-week professional development program intended for librarians from underrepresented groups in the first three years of their professional careers. Several APALA members attended the 2014 Institute last July and offered to share some of their takeaways in a series of web articles. In this last of three article installments, Annie Pho (University of Illinois at Chicago), Rose Love Chou (American University), and Karen Gau (Virginia Commonwealth University) reflect on MIECL’s discussions on personal vision.

image of the members of the Residency Interest group of the Association of Research & College Libraries

Some participants of MIECL 2014. Photo credit: DeEtta Jones

When we attended MIECL, the moderators DeEtta Jones and Kathryn Deiss introduced the idea of crafting a personal vision. They described it as being analogous to a horizon — compelling, inspiring, yet unreachable. It should provide you with a directional force that takes into account all aspects of your life, including your career, health, family and finances.

Why are you interested in crafting a personal vision?

Annie Pho (AP): Crafting a personal vision is really useful because I see it as my guiding philosophy. It guides me in terms of how I approach my career and life choices. Upon listening to DeEtta and Kathryn talk about crafting their own personal vision, I realized just how important it is for an individual to do because it helps you stay on course with what you are doing in your life. At the same time, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I realized I had never thought to craft my own personal vision before. I left MIECL with more questions than answers. I am still trying to craft my personal vision, but I know that it’s there. It’s up to me to articulate it.

Rose Love Chou (RLC):  Learning about the concept of a personal vision was very helpful to me. I think the question of “where do you want to be in five years” is used too often, even if it’s just rhetorical. I’m not really a binary thinker and tend not to see things in black and white. I really live in the grey area, so the concept of a personal vision that serves as a compass, rather than a checklist, really resonated with me. Instead of only creating goals to reach, a personal vision helps me develop and express my purpose.

Karen Gau (KG): The question “where do you want to be in five years?” hasn’t been particularly helpful for me either. Just over five years ago when I was an office manager for a manufacturing company, I didn’t imagine that being a health sciences librarian was in my future. Having a personal vision can help me focus on the impact I want to have and guide me with making good, forward-moving choices, even when unexpected career and personal obstacles present themselves. So if I end up on a very different path from where I thought I’d be, my personal vision can still act as a compass to help me achieve a meaningful purpose that I’ve defined for myself.

 

What is a meaningful vision and how do you craft one?

AP: When you are thinking about vision, you have to think big. If your vision is “be a library director, or move up in management,” then it’s not big enough. Your vision should be so big, that it’s unattainable. Like the horizon, it should move away from you as you walk toward it. Life can be pretty unpredictable, so a meaningful vision shouldn’t be shaken if something happens that you had not planned. I see a meaningful vision as something that influences not only my professional career, but also my personal life. In terms of how to craft your own vision, I started asking myself why I do what I do. Why am I a librarian? What do I want to contribute to not only the workplace, but society? What would make me happy in my life?

RLC: For me, a meaningful vision has to help me figure out how I want to be a leader and what I want to do as a leader. It has to help me turn my aspirations into action. One of the things that stuck with me from MIECL is the idea that the intention to lead, rather than just drifting into a leadership role, is important. Some questions to consider to help discover your purpose and voice: What are your personal values? What do you think and why?

KG: These are all great points. Touching on what Rose said, MIECL made it clear that knowing yourself is key to crafting a meaningful vision, too. For example, what are your strengths and weaknesses? How do they affect your way of making an impact?

 

How does one manage the gap between your Ideal and your Actual self?

AP: This can be a really tough thing to do. I know many librarians who hold themselves to a really high standard, but sometimes it’s just not sustainable to be going at full-speed 100 percent of the time. You’ll never be your own ideal, but that’s why crafting a personal vision is so important. You work toward your ideal self, but you also have to be OK with failing sometimes. That’s how we move forward in life.

RLC: Managing the gap is another concept I learned from DeEtta that was incredibly helpful.  The gap is the space between your Ideal and your Actual. Use the tension between these two to create goals. Do not measure yourself by comparing your Actual to your Ideal. Measure your progress by comparing your Actual to where you were previously.

KG: I think managing this gap between your Ideal and Actual self is key to having a good work/life balance, which is very important to me. I wonder if, on the flip side, integrating work/life balance into your vision as a value could help with managing this gap.

Image with "dream big" written in the sand.

When you are thinking about vision, you have to think big. If your vision is “be a library director, or move up in management,” then it’s not big enough.

Have you created a vision for yourself since MIECL?

AP: Ever since I returned from MIECL, I’ve been thinking about how to articulate my personal vision. It’s really hard to really know what you’re working toward. For me, I tend to make my progress by trying to deal with what is directly in front of me, and I don’t always take the time to look up and ask myself what is on the horizon.

KG: I’m working on mine, too. I’ve been talking about it with my MIECL mentor, whom I continue to meet with every month.

RLC: I feel like I am perpetually thinking about my vision. While I have some aspects of it down (mainly when it comes to family and personal life), I’m still working on the vision related to my career.

 

Editing assistance provided by Jaena Rae Cabrera and Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow.

APA Library Leader Interview — Daniel Tsang, Distinguished Librarian and Data Librarian, University of California, Irvine

by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow

A leader in librarianship need not be in administration or management. This feature essay on an Asian/Pacific American library leader focuses on Daniel C. Tsang, currently Distinguished Librarian and Data Librarian at University of California, Irvine, where he is also Bibliographer of Asian American Studies, Political Science, Economics, French & Italian, and the Orange County Documents.  I met Dan a few years back. Recently, he visited my current place of work, University of California, Riverside, where he gave a series of talks on data librarianship and union work as a librarian at a public university. I was very inspired by his body of work and message.

Following his presentations and several  brief, inperson discussions with him in mid-March 2015, I initiated an email conversation with Dan in mid-April 2015. I sent Dan the questions we send to all our library leader interviewees, which focus on his background and his thoughts on library leadership and diversity. This article provides an edited, perhaps too brief, version of Dan’s responses.

~ Melissa Cardenas-Dow, Web Content Subcommittee Chair

 

Melissa Cardenas-Dow (MICD): Tell us a little bit about yourself, your career to-date?

Daniel Tsang (DT): I grew up in Hong Kong and I came to the U.S. in the 1960s. My mom was born in the U.S. but went to Hong Kong after university. Then, being the period of turmoil with the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War, I became an activist when I became a librarian. I started working at Temple University’s Contemporary Culture Collection in 1978. I was totally immersed in the alternative press as a contributor, editor, and collector, both personally and professionally.  I have been a bibliographer at the University of California Irvine Libraries for almost 30 years.

 

MICD: What ways do you see yourself as a diverse professional?

DT:  I am immersed both professionally and personally in documenting social change.

 

MICD: Please describe an instance in which diversity played a beneficial role in your library work.

DT: Our newspaper collection at Temple University was very Euro-centric and I managed to get involved in a newspaper committee that changed the policy so that we collected more broadly.  Earlier, at the Philadelphia Public Library, I raised a question why they weren’t preserving the Philadelphia Gay News. After that, the library administration began microfilming it.

 

MICD: Has it been challenging to move up the leadership ladder?  How did you make the move from middle to upper management?

DT: I’m not in upper management, actually. Just a senior line librarian.

 

MICD: How does diversity influence your leadership style?

DT: I think I am more aware of how people get excluded and how certain cues from people of color are misread as concurrence. So I try to be more open to nonverbal cues.

 

MICD: What attributes do you look for in future leaders?

DT: Non-rigid styles and willingness to listen.

 

MICD: Are these the same skills, talents and qualities you recommend diverse professionals develop as they seek new leadership positions? Please explain further.

DT: Definitely, one can learn from anyone.

 

MICD: What advice would you give to young professionals, especially those from diverse backgrounds?

DT: Be passionate about what you believe in. Speak out, but be strategic in what you say and do.  Find someone who can be a mentor in the library.

 

MICD: How about advice for midcareer professionals, especially those who are interested in moving into higher management?

DT: Do not forget your roots or the union!  Don’t turn anti-union.

 

MICD: What message would you give to library administrators regarding the value of diverse leaders and how they might grow under those leaders within their organizations?

DT: Try not to find token leaders but value each worker as an individual.  Offer praise not just criticism.

 

Editing assistance provided by Molly Higgins.

2015 Asian/Pacific American Librarians (APALA) Election Results

Dear APALA colleagues,

Congratulations to our incoming Executive Board members, who will be serving under the leadership of incoming President Janet Clarke, and thank you to all of the candidates who ran for office! All terms will begin after the 2015 ALA Annual Conference.

Vice-President/President-Elect: Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada
Secretary:  Anna Coats
Member-at-Large (2015-2017):  Ariana Hussain
Member-at-Large (2015-2017):  Brian Leaf

 

Continuing Terms

President: Janet Clarke
Treasurer :  Dora Ho
Member-at-Large (2014-2016): Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Member-at-Large (2014-2016):  Paolo Guxilde
Immediate Past-President:  Eileen Bosch

Executive Director: Ven Basco
Best,Nominating Committee,
Eugenia Beh (Chair)
Jade Alburo
Ven Basco

APA Library Leader Interview — David Mao, Deputy Librarian of Congress

by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow

This feature essay on an Asian/Pacific American library leader focuses on David Mao, currently Deputy Librarian of Congress. When I initiated the e-mail conversation in late February 2015, I had just gotten the news that David had just been appointed Law Librarian of Congress. I sent some questions to David, focusing on his background and his thoughts on library leadership and diversity. This article provides an edited version of David’s responses.

 

Melissa Cardenas-Dow (MICD): Tell us a little bit about yourself, your career to date?

David Mao (DM): I was born in New York City, but raised in New Jersey. After graduating with a B.A. in international affairs from the George Washington University, I earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.  I then practiced law for several years before returning to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in library science at the Catholic University of America. My first library position was at Georgetown, followed by several library positions at  the international law firm Covington and Burling. From there I moved to the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress.  In 2010 I transferred to the Law Library of Congress as Deputy Law Librarian. I was appointed Law Librarian of Congress in January 2012 and in January of this year, I was named Deputy Librarian of Congress.

 

MICD: What ways do you see yourself as a diverse professional?

DM: I interpret diverse professional to mean all the different facets that an individual brings to the workplace. For me, that includes being of Chinese descent and being born and raised in the United States. I also have gained tremendously from extended living, studying and traveling in Asia. Professionally, I have worked in academia, the private sector and public service. The sum of all these experiences has influenced my work ethic, approach to business and outlook on the future.

 

MICD: Please describe an instance in which diversity played a beneficial role in your library work.

DM: Over the years, I have interviewed numerous candidates for library positions. As noted above, I have worked professionally in various sectors (academic, private and public) and thus have been able to understand better how applicants’ experiences in those areas may relate to the particular position sought.

 

MICD: Has it been challenging to move up the leadership ladder?  How did you make the move from middle to upper management?

DM: Moving up the leadership ladder has been challenging just like achieving any other goal that one sets out for oneself. It takes hard work, steady progress and commitment. Throughout my career I have looked for and taken advantage of opportunities both within and external to my work organizations. These opportunities included lending assistance on projects, making connections with others and seeking feedback.  

 

MICD: How does diversity influence your leadership style?

DM: As a result of my various experiences, I welcome and seek different perspectives in how to approach challenges and opportunities.

 

MICD: What attributes do you look for in future leaders?

DM: The basic qualities I look for in a future leader are intelligence and good interpersonal skills. Talented individuals will have the ability to innovate using available resources and to find opportunities in times of change. Two skills I count as important in a future leader includes technical know-how and the knowledge of how to apply technology appropriately to areas throughout an organization.

 

MICD: Are these the same skills, talents and qualities you recommend diverse professionals develop as they seek new leadership positions? Please explain further.

DM: These are only a small sampling of the skills, talents and qualities that a professional should have! Of course, every leader has a unique set of aptitudes that he or she cultivates and applies to the organization. Part of professional development means acquiring those skills, knowledge and abilities that will make an individual the right “fit” for a particular position or organization.

 

MICD: What advice would you give to young professionals, especially those from diverse backgrounds?

DM: Create networks, not only within your organization but also externally. Join professional associations (both local and national—and perhaps even international) and attend conferences to give yourself the widest possible view of your industry. Find your niche within that industry and know—and be able to express—how you can bring value to the organization.

 

MICD: How about advice for midcareer professionals, especially those who are interested in moving into higher management?

 

DM: As I mentioned, professional associations are great for learning more about your industry. These associations also typically have leadership positions in their committees, special task forces and boards. Midcareer professionals interested in management positions in their organization can demonstrate leadership on one of these groups and transfer their experience to the workplace.

 

MICD: What message would you give to library administrators regarding the value of diverse leaders and how they might grow under those leaders within their organizations?

DM: The strength of a high performing organization is in its people and I equate staff diversity with an organization’s ability to grow, change and make progress.  The more varied the staff and managers are, the better chance the organization has to  get past the status quo. Diversity in staff translates to diversity in management if the organization cultivates its leaders from within its own workforce. In every issue and action, an organization should integrate the development of a diverse workforce into its strategic plan in order to succeed.


Editing assistance provided by Molly Higgins. Many thanks to Eugenia Beh for facilitating this interview.

Engaging Fatigue: Re-envisioning and Renewing Your Advocacy by Rebecca Martin

by Rebecca Y. Martin

APALA member Rebecca Martin brings us the fourth essay on our advocacy fatigue mini-series. Advocacy is a significant part of our continuing development in the field of librarianship, a helping profession. It follows that self-care and renewal is also a significant part of our professional growth. However, finding renewal by stepping away temporarily isn’t always easy or feasible. Rebecca’s reflective piece raises some questions, and solutions, concerning such situations.

In anticipation of APALA’s 35th Anniversary & Symposium,  we take a closer look at the very human aspect of advocacy work—fatigue. 

~ Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow, APALA Web Content Sub-committee Chair, 2012-Present

 

Image of Rebecca Y. MartinFor those of us engaged in social justice work that is intimately tied to our own identities, taking a break to avoid advocacy fatigue isn’t always easy — or at times even possible.

My own experience working at Community Change, Inc. tells me that anti-racism work follows us home: it can fuel our dinner table conversations; it can disrupt our sleep; and it can wear us down. Anti-racism work is an ongoing process that continually deals with oppression on personal, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. It is not the type of work that has easy “wins.” It has daily, sometimes hourly, roadblocks. And for those of us who identify or are perceived as individuals of color, we do not have the privilege of easily taking a break from feeling, facing and experiencing racism.

In light of this reality, taking a break might mean stepping back to gain new perspective. Maybe it means taking stock of what experiences brought us to this work in the first place, and which books, writers, and organizations initially influenced us to take action. Perhaps it means reflection on the future as a means of revitalization.

My own approach is to imagine what an anti-racist society looks like and how we can work toward that goal collectively. I try to imagine how I want to contribute to that future: what role do I want to play? What skills and tools do I need to fulfill that role? Over the years, as my interests, skills and relationships have evolved, so has that vision.

As I’ve advanced in my experience as an anti-racist activist, I’ve undertaken continuing education opportunities just as I’ve done in my career as an academic librarian. In both cases, clarifying goals, acquiring new skills and learning about new tools has revitalized my approach and my interest in moving forward. The same approach can apply to any advocacy, activist or social justice work.

Some of the personal/professional/disciplinary goals I am working on during my current phase of fatigue include:

Fatigued or not, I always seek guidance and inspiration from my peers, colleagues and community members. I keep an eye on the What’s Your Normal series from APALA and seek new avenues for influencing diversity in academic libraries. I have also participated in local discussions about critical librarianship and what it means to be a “whole-self” librarian.

I think if we can view fatigue as part of our cycle of renewal, we can emerge revitalized and better poised to serve ourselves and our communities.

I’ll end by asking you to share what approaches to renewal you use in the comments below, and to consider the following quote from fellow librarian Audre Lorde from 1982:

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives… Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone. We are not perfect, but we are stronger and wiser than the sum of our errors.”

 

Image of Community Change, Inc.Rebecca Martin is an academic law librarian at Boston University and a volunteer librarian at the Yvonne Pappenheim Library on Racism at Community Change, Inc. She is interested in the role of anti-racism education in LIS curricula and on the Internet and the role of law libraries in access to justice and information initiatives.

 

Editing assistance provided by Jaena Rae Cabrera and Melissa Cardenas-Dow.

 

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