Spotlight on Annie Pho: An Emerging Leader

by Jaena Rae Cabrera

Annie Pho is an Academic Resident Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she works in reference and instruction. At UIC, she actively builds campus partnerships with the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, the Asian American Studies Department, and the Gender and Women Studies Department, where she works with faculty and staff to investigate ways the library may best support their students. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from San Francisco State University and graduated from Indiana University, Indianapolis with her MLS. Her research interests include diversity and stereotypes in librarianship, playful design, and critical pedagogy in information literacy instruction.

Annie was selected as an ALA Emerging Leader for 2014 and her team’s project is to assist ALCTS (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services) in determining best practices for the division’s social media presence. The ALA Emerging Leaders program is intended to be a leadership development program for new library workers who have less than 5 years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level in a library.

On her time with APALA, Annie writes:

I’ve been an APALA member since 2013, so not very long! I joined because I wanted to be connected to other Asian and Pacific Islander American librarians. I attended the JCLC conference in 2012 and met many APALA members. Once I found my first full-time librarian position, I joined APALA! It’s been a great experience so far.

At the last ALA in Chicago, I attended the What’s Your Normal discussion and found it very valuable. I’m looking forward to attending more APALA events in the future.

APALA helped me feel connected to some of my fellow ELs, although we did not have much time as a larger group to talk to each other. Also, Melissa Cardenas-Dow, a former Emerging Leader and active APALA member, wrote my letter of recommendation for the EL program. Without her input and assistance, I wouldn’t have been able to participate. She’s a fantastic librarian and someone I look up to. Many of the APALA members I have been fortunate enough to work with or meet also serve as inspiration to me.

On being an ALA Emerging Leader, she writes:

I was inspired to apply because so many cool librarians that I look up to were former ELs. I didn’t think I’d be accepted but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to apply. I’m a new librarian and haven’t gotten involved with leadership on the ALA level. I hoped the EL program would shed some light on the process and also help me understand how ALA is organized. It’s a large, bureaucratic organization, and can be hard to understand the hierarchies that exist. The EL program did help me understand that. I was also hoping to meet with and work with other new professionals, and that definitely has happened.

The ALA-EL application process was pretty straight-forward but I still asked a lot of former ELs for help on my application. In particular, these two blog posts really helped me, Sarah Bryce Kozla’s post So You Want to be an ALA Emerging Leader and Anita Dryden’s post Emerging Leaders and Professional Involvement. I also emailed them both to ask for advice on my application. The hardest part of the application is telling a compelling story about yourself and understanding what you would have to gain from the program. I struggle to write about myself but the people reading the applications need to know what leadership potential you have, so the application is not the time to be humble. I was not sponsored by any groups but when you turn your application in, you check off the divisions you are a member of. It’s a good way to get support to be an Emerging Leader.

I am working on a project for ALCTS on helping them revamp their social media presence. What is funny is that none of my EL Team members are ALCTS members but we were all drawn to this project because it’s very applicable in our everyday work. We sent out a survey to all technical services library staff to get a sense of what they like or don’t like about ALCTS, and how they use social media for professional development.

So far I’ve really enjoyed the program. I love my Team! I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. They are funny, smart, and dedicated professionals. Additionally, the ELs get to participate in webinars through the months between ALA MW and ALA Annual. The last one was on microaggressions in LIS, which I thought was a great topic. The best part about EL is meeting other new professionals, and that it gives you a leg up in becoming more involved with ALA. If there is a committee you want to join, or a division you aspire to be a leader in, being an EL really helps you get your name out.

annieTo learn more about Annie’s 2014 ALA Emerging Leader project, please see ALA-EL 2014 Team C’s project website.











Editing assistance by Melissa Cardenas-Dow and Alyssa Jocson.

Member Highlights Showcase — Tricia Sung

Tricia Sung is a new APALA member and has only been part of our association for about a year. She currently works as a research analyst at the office of institutional research in the state of Georgia. She has done considerable work in civil rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, and civic engagement and advocacy in the Deep South with the OCA-Georgia (Organization of Chinese Americans-Georgia Chapter), League of Women Voters of Georgia, and the Asian American Peace Officers of Georgia (AAPOG), organizations in which she has held (or continues to hold) upper administrative and leadership positions.

Tricia’s background is in psychology and oral history research. In addition to her institutional research duties, she works as the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Historical Society (APAHS). Of APAHS, Tricia writes:

[APAHS was] founded in 2010 with the mission of documenting, preserving and educating the public about Asian Pacific American history and heritage in the U.S. South. Since 2010, we have been holding an annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Symposium at the National Archives in Atlanta and working with StoryCorps to document over 100 diverse APA life experiences which are archived at the U.S. Library of Congress. This past year, we began working with APALA on heritage programs with an APALA member chairing a session on APA LGBTQ stories at the 2014 May APA Heritage Month Symposium. APAHS is also very pleased to be a recipient of the APALA Talk Story Grant that will allow us to present an Autumn Moon Festival celebration in partnership with the Chamblee Library, part of the Dekalb County Public Library system. APAHS has worked in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies to celebrate APA heritage in the South.

At the time of this writing, Tricia does not work as a librarian nor has a degree in librarianship. However, she wants to support our efforts, the continuing outreach to increase APA representation in the library and information professions, and the advocacy and educational work we do through ALA and APALA. Of becoming a librarian, she states:

This year, I attended an ALA Knowledge Alliance program in Atlanta (, an initiative to diversify the library profession. After learning at the ALA Knowledge Alliance workshop about the broad range of careers in libraries, research and knowledge management, and meeting so many supportive professionals,  I’ve decided to pursue my lifelong dream of working in the library profession and will be applying for programs specializing in digital archives & media and the Asian Pacific American experience.  Suggestions for programs are welcomed & appreciated! Please email Thanks!

As we do of all of our MHS participants, we asked Tricia about her own ethnic and racial background. She told us her immigrant journey story that is both intensely familiar and personal:

I am Taiwanese American and my family lived in South America before coming to the U.S., so I like to embrace my Latina roots as well. I grew up, like many other kids, going to the public library after school to do homework and have a safe place to be while my parents were working. I remember reading so many books, and being so thankful for the opportunity to be transported to different lands and experiences through the books I was able to read. And since it was New York, they had so many books in Chinese, so that I borrowed a whole bunch for my grandmother. As a youngster, I promised myself that if I ever made a million dollars, that I would donate it to the public library in appreciation for the love of reading they instilled in me. Being a parent myself now, I am always looking for library materials that reflect the multicultural realities of children today and work through the Asian Pacific American Historical Society in partnership with local public libraries and APA cultural organizations to hold programs which highlight APA heritage and culture.

APALA member Tricia Sung (L) and Jamal Booker (R), Coca-Cola Company Archivist, at the Coca-Cola Company Archives, 2013. Both are holding up an advertising poster published in 1936 and used in American Chinatowns.

APALA member Tricia Sung (L) and Jamal Booker (R), Coca-Cola Company Archivist, at the Coca-Cola Company Archives, 2013. Both are holding up an advertising poster published in 1936 and used in American Chinatowns.

Tricia dreams of one day establishing a museum in Atlanta, Ga., one dedicated to the diversity of APA lived experiences in the U.S. South.

Please give Tricia a warm welcome to the APALA fold. Tricia, we are very fortunate to have you as a fellow APALA member, ally, and colleague.











Article written by Melissa Cardenas-Dow, with editing assistance by Raymond Wang.

Former APALA President Florante Ibanez Appointed to the California Library Services Board

The office of the Governor of California, Edmund “Jerry” Brown, Jr., released a statement announcing the appointments of members to the California Library Services Board. Former APALA President Florante Peter Ibanez (2010-2011) is among the new appointees. The appointment will last for four years.

The statement released by the California Governor’s office states the following about Ibanez:

Florante Ibanez, 62, of Carson, has been appointed to the California Library Services Board. Ibanez has served in several positions at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles since 1992, including manager of library computer services and computer resources center assistant. He was an adjunct professor for the Loyola Marymount University, Asian Pacific American Studies Program from 2007 to 2014 and was a communications and hardware support specialist at Ashton Tate – Borland International from 1990 to 1992. Ibanez was a personal computer support specialist at Citizen American Inc. from 1988 to 1990 and project staff at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees from 1982 to 1984. He was assistant director of the early outreach program at the University of California, Irvine Educational Opportunity Program from 1979 to 1982 and a coordinator of resource development and publication at the University of California, Los Angeles Asian American Studies Center from 1971 to 1972. Ibanez is a member of the Filipino American Library Board of Directors, the L.A. as Subject board, the California Library Association, American Library Association and was a member of the 2nd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color Steering Committee in 2012. He is a member of the City of Carson Historical Committee, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, where he was president from 2010 to 2011, and the University of California, Irvine Alumni Association. Ibanez earned a Master of Arts degree in Asian American studies and a Master of Library Science degree in information and library science from the University of California, Los Angeles. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Ibanez is a Democrat.

For more on the California Library Services Board appointments, please refer to the statement released by the California Governor’s office.

The California Library Services Board is an organizing body that functions within the California State Library:

The California Library Services Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and four by the Legislature. The state board determines policy for and authorizes allocation of funds from programs of the California Library Services Act. Members serve for four years, representing various constituencies, and also comprise the State Advisory Council on Libraries for the federal Library Services and Technology Act. The State Librarian serves as Chief Executive Officer of the California Library Services Board.

The current California State Librarian is Greg Lucas, who has been in office since April 2014. For more on the California LIbrary Services Board, please refer to the Board’s official website.

APALA extends congratulations to Florante. You will be an invaluable asset to the Board!

Summer 2014 APALA Newsletter is Out!

The latest issue of the APALA newsletter is now available. See what APALA has planned for ALA Annual 2014. A schedule of events is included. This issue also has articles that recap APALA events at ALA Midwinter 2014 in Philadelphia.  It also includes very important amendments to APALA’s constitution and bylaws, which will be discussed at the Membership Meeting at ALA Annual 2014 (Sunday, June 29, 2014, 8:30 am to 10 am in LVCC-N119). Download your copy!

APA Library Leader Interview — Lisa Chow, New York

Lisa Chow: Advocate and Visionary of Re-shaping the Library Landscape

by Dawn Wing

Meet Lisa Chow. She is an information professional extraordinaire whose mission is to bring people-centered design into libraries. Even before finishing library school at Pratt Institute, Lisa had already honed her skills and passion for initiating, developing and managing outcome-based projects. Currently, she is half of People Interact, a consultancy that works with libraries and nonprofits to implement creative solutions to effectively improve individual and organizational performance by focusing on the human element.Lisa also works as a Web Analyst in Brooklyn Public Library’s IT/Web Applications department where she continually seeks and implements new ways of serving patrons.

Lisa is widely recognized in the library world for her advocacy as a Special Libraries Association (SLA) Rising Star, Library Journal (LJ) Mover & Shaker, American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leader, and Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Diversity Scholar. In this interview, Lisa provides refreshing insights for information professionals of all stages in their careers and dares us to think outside the box.

Dawn Wing (DW):  What was your journey towards librarianship?

Lisa Chow (LC): When I was exploring career options for biology majors, I came across medical librarianship. While medical librarianship is what got me interested in librarianship, I have become interested in many different areas of librarianship since then and decided not to limit myself or my career.

Before college, I volunteered at the neighborhood library of Brooklyn Public Library where I started off as a book buddy, then computer coach, and then special events coordinator (probably the fanciest job title I’ve ever had).

What are my sources of inspiration? I’ve got a poster of “50 Reasons Not to Change” posted at work. You can find the poster and other sources of inspiration:

DW: What is your philosophy as a librarian and how has this shaped your career?  

LC: Designing and making libraries accessible to all, the idea of universal design. Empowering people to use information to make informed decisions. It’s about people.

DW: You have a lot of experience taking initiatives to improve library services. Could you provide some history and background information regarding your co-founding of People Interact and various (un)conferences? What was your thought process and motivation behind these initiatives?

LC: My colleague and partner-in-crime Sandra Sajonas and I co-founded People Interact. We started blogging at over 3 years ago. We are passionate about helping organizations and professionals adapt in our rapidly changing world. Inspired by user experience design, our work is guided by a people-centered philosophy of making sure that people are not lost in the shuffle. We work with libraries and nonprofits to implement creative solutions to effectively improve individual and organizational performance by focusing on the human element.

What do we do:

  • Design thinking and impact-based assessment: program and service design, space planning and utilization, strategic planning process, usability and user experience, workflow and processes.
  • Unconferences for organizational development: staff unconferences, thematic unconferences.
  • Leadership and career development: presentations, succession planning, webinars, workshops.

DW:  What exactly is an (un)conference? What got you interested in spearheading (un)conferences?  How did you go about planning one?

LC: An unconference is a participant-driven event where the discussion topics are determined by the participants and the focus is on the collective knowledge of the group.

I attended my first unconference in 2007, LibraryCampNYC at Baruch College:  I really enjoyed the informalness and openness of LibraryCampNYC. I felt like I got more ideas and inspiration out of an unconference than a traditional conference.

Shortly after attending the event, Brooklyn Public Library was planning the annual staff development day and I thought the unconference concept might be a good idea to test drive and incorporate into staff development day. However, it seemed like the planning committee was well into the final planning stages of staff development day. It actually worked out better as its own event. I formed a team and Brooklyn Public Library had its first staff unconference – BPL ThinkTank in May 2008. A few years later, I was talking to a good colleague and mentor and we thought it would be great to do a health themed unconference. Shortly after, I formed a team to organize HealthCampNYC, a regional health unconference focused on using collective knowledge to improve health literacy and community health.

Organizing an unconference is like organizing any kind of event. However, there are four principles of unconferences and the law of two feet or motion.

The four principles are:

  • Whoever comes is the right group of people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over.

The law of two feet or motion states that “any persons neither learning from nor contribution to a group discussion must walk [or move] to another one.”

If you would like to learn more about unconferences, I co-authored a Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) LibGuide on unconferences. It’s a guide on unconferences and tools, resources and tips for doing your own unconference:

DW: What were some reactions and outcomes from (un)conference participants?   How is it different from attending a traditional professional development conference?  Do you think (un)conferences inherently allow for more diverse perspectives and participation because of its openness?

LC: An unconference is a participant-driven event where the discussion topics are determined by the participants and the focus is on the collective knowledge of the group. Unconferences are about participation and its openness does allow for a better flow of ideas. However, unconferences like conferences depend on their organizers and participants/attendees.

The BPL ThinkTank unconference gave staff a chance to explore new ideas in librarianship freely in an open and informal environment. Some of those ideas included: clear and consistent communication, transparency of processes, more training opportunities, sharing accomplishments, and flexibility with technology. There were positive reactions from participants and management hosted three follow-up sessions with participants. Participants said the BPL ThinkTank unconference was productive and they liked the positive and energetic atmosphere and that they got to choose the topics. Since then, the unconference concept has been integrated into regular staff trainings and meetings. One participant said it best: “A fun, relaxed atmosphere truly fosters creativity.”

The HealthCampNYC unconference, while regional, attracted worldwide interest, with visits to the event wiki from over 800 visitors from 222 cities. We had individuals who asked if there was a way to participate remotely. Participants said the HealthCampNYC unconference helped them start collaborations, network and share resources, and that it had a great impact on the overall health conversation. Since then, we followed up with participants and as a result of HealthCampNYC, they are working on articles, partnerships, collaborations, and grant-funded projects.

Image of Lisa Chow, taken in 2007 for Medical Library Association.

Lisa Chow, co-founder of People Interact.

DW:  How does your diversity influence your work ethic?

LC: I’ve got a “50 Reasons Not to Change” poster at my desk with tidbits like “We’ve never done that before” and “We’ve always done it that way”. I hear a lot of reasons to not change the ways libraries have always done things. Sometimes things need to change in order to improve library services and processes for both staff and patrons. As a result, I find myself doing things differently than many of my colleagues. For example, I’ve initiated pilot projects and organized events without management approval. It’s easier to apologize than to ask for permission. An example is the Library Workers’ Skill Share event. I teamed up with two other Library Journal Movers & Shakers to organize the event in an effort to provide support for all NYC library workers who are job hunting, unemployed, facing potential layoffs or simply looking to freshen up their skills. Over 80 people attended the event, which included panels, workshops, one-on-one speed mentoring, resume review, speed business coaching sessions, and a networking & resource room. My co-event organizers, being in the education and job division, were allowed to use work time, since it’s a job-related event. However, I was not in that division, so I had to use my own time. This is the kind of library tradition way of doing things that doesn’t make any sense. For me, it didn’t matter whether or not I had to use my own time, because I was co-organizing this event as a librarian, regardless of the organization that I was working at. It just would have been better and a little easier if the library organization didn’t give me a hard time about it while I was trying to organize an event for library workers in less than three months.

DW:  What skills or talents do you recommend that diverse professionals might develop as they seek to enter and grow in various areas of librarianship?


  • Study what you’re interested in, whether that means generalizing or specializing in library school.
  • Set up informational interviews to learn more about topics and areas of interest.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.
  • Be comfortable and familiar with technology, not necessarily knowing and learning every software/tool/platform out there but being aware and able to make decisions about what technology would be useful and relevant to your users (staff and/or patrons).

DW:  What advice would you give young professionals, especially those from diverse backgrounds, who are interested in becoming a library leader?

LC: Take advantage of scholarships, stipends, various mentoring and leadership programs and initiatives that support early career librarians or library school students and/or diversity in the profession. Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Find a partner-in-crime. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to nominate yourself. I nominated myself for SLA Rising Star. You’ve gotta toot your own horn.


Check out resources and slides from Lisa Chow’s leadership and career development presentations and webinars:

To read more about Lisa Chow’s projects, please visit her e-portfolio:


Editing assistance provided by Melissa Cardenas-Dow.

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