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 University of California, Irvine 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 Free 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.

05/28/2015: This piece was edited to indicate the correct names of library locations where Dan made change efforts. Many thanks to Dan for pointing out our errors. ~Melissa

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.

 

Celebrating 35 Years of APALA — Interview With Eileen K. Bosch

Empowering APALA’s Future: Interview with Eileen K. Bosch, APALA President (2014-2015)

by Melissa Cardenas-Dow

APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium. Building Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Librarianship & Advocacy, June 25, 2015, San Francisco, Calif.

APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium. Building Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Librarianship & Advocacy, June 25, 2015, San Francisco, Calif.

In February 2015, APALA Web Content Sub-committee member Melissa Cardenas-Dow corresponded with current APALA President Eileen K. Bosch. We spoke about APALA’s upcoming 35th Anniversary & Symposium, the current state of APALA, and the aspirations of APALA leaders and members for the organization. The following article is the third of a three-part mini-series highlighting APALA’s 35th Anniversary. It also provides an edited version of our conversation.

Early bird registration for APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium is currently underway until April 3, 2015. 

Melissa Cardenas-Dow (MICD): Please briefly tell us about yourself and your position(s) in APALA, especially your role in planning APALA’s 35th Anniversary celebration. How long have you been a part of APALA?

Eileen K. Bosch (EKB): I am the current President of APALA, Chair of the APALA 35th Fundraising Committee and a member of the Steering Committee for the APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium. I have also served APALA as Vice President (2013-2014), Executive Board Member-at-Large (2010-2012), Chair of the Finance & Fundraising Committee (2011-2014), Public Relations Committee (2011), Literary Award Adult Fiction Committee (2011), Mentoring Committee (2010/11), JCLC/APALA Fundraising (2011-12), and APALA representative for the Spectrum Leadership Institute (2011-2012). I am also responsible for overseeing and coordinating all APALA activities, including dividing direct responsibility among the Executive Director, Vice President, and all Executive Board officers, as well as acting as the spokesperson for APALA within and outside ALA. Since APALA is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, I have also been overseeing the overall planning and coordination of all of APALA’s programs and events throughout the APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium and 2015 ALA Annual Conference. As such, I have been working closely with APALA 35th Co-Chairs, Jade Alburo, Gary Colmenar, and Florante Ibanez, as well as Ven Basco, Executive Director, Janet Clarke, Vice-President, and Dora Ho, Treasurer.

MICD: Let’s think about the future of APALA. What do you think APALA aspires to accomplish in the future, both in the short-term and long-term?

EKB: I think that one of APALA’s aspirations is to increase our visibility and recognition within the ALA community, specifically when it comes to issues related to API communities and librarians. To this end, we have been working in cultivating leaders from within APALA who value and practice coalition-building with ALA and the other ethnic caucuses to benefit the API community at large.

MICD: What are some of the efforts we are currently performing, so APALA can achieve these future aspirations?

EKB: We have been prioritizing our work and focusing on addressing some of the goals delineated on the APALA’s Visionary Framework for the Future: APALA’s Strategic Plan. Many of these goals needed to be placed on the fast track to help our association move forward. For example, we have been targeting the completion of an electronic policies and procedures handbook to be distributed to incoming officers and committee chairs at the annual conference. This handbook will not only facilitate the transition process between previous and new leadership, but it would also allow opportunities for aspiring and seasoned leaders to experience a variety of job assignments, projects and development processes. As a small association, we need to focus our efforts on growing and developing leadership to build a network intent on practicing and realizing our core values and vision.

Image of Eileen K Bosch

Eileen K. Bosch, APALA President, 2014-2015

MICD: In the previous article, Ven Basco, APALA’s current Executive Director talked in great length about the need for APALA and its members to be much more visible. What do you think about this? How does more outreach, more communication, more visibility play a role in the future aspirations and empowerment of APALA and its members?

EKB: I think that true leadership involves more than day-to-day operational work. It includes being true and enthusiastic about creating visibility for your group, getting your message across, and sharing your accomplishments. Personally, I think this is the way we can create a leadership support network that builds on itself, make our organization stronger. If the leaders of our association are excited and enthusiastic about creating a better tomorrow for APALA and its members, other members will want to join their leaders to move our association forward. Furthermore, by increasing our visibility, we can recruit new members and attract more sponsors to fund our scholarships and programs. However, in order to do this, we need to have a good communication and outreach plan to be able to put our message out there and let our members know what is going on and how they can help. For example, I don’t know any other APALA members in Ohio. So for me, being able to connect to other APALA members and be able to communicate during committee meetings allows me an opportunity to learn what’s going on and feel connected with other members across the nation.

 MICD: What about in terms of specifically promoting and advocating on behalf of API library communities and patrons?

 EKB: Currently, APALA collaborates with the American Indian Library Association (AILA) on a joint project, “Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture.” This is a literacy program that reaches out to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families. The program celebrates and explores Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) stories through books, oral traditions, and art to provide an interactive, enriching experience. Children and their families can connect to rich cultural activities through Talk Story in their homes, libraries, and communities. Personally, it would be great if we team up with other ethnic associations or organizations to create library programs that could bring APALA closer to API communities.

MICD: What do you see as APALA’s future collaborative endeavors with ALA and other ethnic affiliates and groups? At the moment, we continue to hear a lot about Talk Story. Are there other collaborative efforts that we are cultivating?

EKB: This past year, I have been very happy to see strong camaraderie and partnership emerge between the new leaders of APALA, AILA, BCALA (Black Caucus of the American Library Association), CALA (Chinese American Librarians Association), and REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking). Some examples of the collaborative work that I can think of at the moment are: our joint efforts in creating an initial Board of Directors for the Joint Council of Librarians of Color (JCLC). This group will work together on the bylaws to be able to incorporate JCLC as a non-profit organization. Another example is participating in CALA’s President Program at ALA Annual 2015. The program “Partnership beyond CALA: Training Leaders of Color for Action” will address how we can work together on training our leaders. This year APALA President’s Program, “Global Roots, Local Identities: Asian International Adoption and Advocacy” will be co-sponsored by ALA’s Video Round Table (VRT).  APALA Program Committee Co-Chairs, Janet Clarke (Vice President) and Peter Spyers-Duran, are organizing a great panel featuring the new film “Geographies of Kinship: International Asian Adoption” by award-winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem. The panelists are: Dr. Cathy Choy, a historian working on Asian international adoption, and Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter, a Korean adoptee librarian-activist and APALA member, who has done extensive work at several Korean adoption centers in the Boston and L.A. areas. In addition, we have also teamed up with APA writer and social justice activist, Paul Ocampo, who has received a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Arts to develop a collaborative program at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation during the APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium. The program will include panelists from APALA, poets, and artists to address how they are invested in incorporating history into their work.

MICD: A great deal of effort and planning is being done to ensure that APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium will be a great success. How do you see it serving APALA’s future goals and aspirations?

EKB: I think that the fact that we are planning and organizing APALA’s 35th Anniversary & Symposium can only help us in our efforts to raise APALA’s visibility and bring more exposure for our association, our members, and our advocacy work in serving API communities. Another good thing to account for is that the challenges associated with the planning, coordinating, and organizing of the symposium in addition to our regular programs and events for 2015 ALA Annual have only helped our association become stronger. As an example, several of our EB officers, Committee Chairs, and APALA members have accepted the call to wear multiple hats either by chairing or serving on several committees to make APALA’s 35th Anniversary a great celebration! As APALA President, I couldn’t be any more humbled and honored with the work of our volunteers, the support of our partners and sponsors, and the achievements of our association! The commitment of our members and partners to go the extra mile for our association just simply warms my heart! This is a pure testament that no matter what, we are growing new leaders and building a network to establish our core values and vision. 

MICD: What idea or impression do you hope attendees will get out of the APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium?

EKB: To get started, attendees will have a great opportunity to see and listen to Valarie Kaur, our keynote speaker. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, and interfaith leader who centers her work on storytelling for social change. She has led campaigns on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, marriage equality, solitary confinement, and the open Internet. Attendees will also have the chance to learn new ideas from a diverse pool of programs, panels, and posters related to libraries, librarians, advocacy, and API communities. In addition, folks will be able to network during the community fair and learn from the many local organizations in San Francisco serving API communities. Since the theme for the symposium reflects the work we have accomplished during our 35 years of existence and continue to do, it is safe to say that attendees will have a great symposium to attend!

MICD: Any closing remarks for our readers?

EKB: As a librarian of mixed race heritage, I have never felt so welcomed, embraced, and enthusiastic like I am in APALA. Our association is not big compared to others, but there’s something about our smallness that promotes a sense of camaraderie, kindness, togetherness, good-fellowship, unselfishness, high-mindedness, industriousness, and forward-thinking in our members and those around us – APALA is awesome!

 

 

Questions written and interview conducted by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow. Editing and writing support provided by Manlia Xiong.

 

 

 

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