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
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.
Secretary: Anna Coats
Member-at-Large (2015-2017): Ariana Hussain
Member-at-Large (2015-2017): Brian Leaf
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
by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
Jeremiah Paschke-Wood joined APALA in 2013 and is currently the Head of Instruction at the Edith Garland Dupré Library at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He attended library school at University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science.
Asked about his reasons for joining APALA, Jeremiah writes:
I thought APALA presented a nice opportunity to do what I could to advocate for librarians of Asian American heritage (as well as other less-represented backgrounds) as well as interact/network with and get to know some other cool librarians that could appreciate good home-cooked Filipino and Chinese food.
Jeremiah is of mixed heritage. Regarding his ethnic background, he states:
So, contrary to how it probably appears via my picture (or name), I’m ¼ Filipino on my mother’s side. She was born in Hawaii to a Filipino mother and a very-white service member father. My dad’s side is very Scandinavian as well. So the end result is a 6-foot-tall, red-bearded white guy with a lot of extended family with names like Corazon and Bonifacio who only looks Filipino when he shaves everything but the moustache off. Best of both worlds, I guess, right? My wife and I also shared names when we got married, taking my family name even further away from the Asian side of the family. I’ve always been very proud to grow up in a very diverse and inclusive family and culture, and I can honestly say that I feel as in touch with the “minority” side of my upbringing as the white one.
Jeremiah’s professional role as an instruction librarian has required him to invest time and effort on the ACRL standards and teaching methods. We asked him about his current professional outlook, goals and interests:
I think one thing that we have to do as librarians moving forward, particularly with issues with funding and technological changes, is find ways to be more proactive in both dealing with students and faculty. I’ve tried to be more involved with outreach and “hitting the streets” to create those relationships with the university community that might not have existed before. I think it’s also important, particularly with demand for library instruction increasing, to find new ways to provide library instruction that is actually relevant and useful for students–and doesn’t take 40 hours a week to do so. In terms of other professional goals and interests, I’d like to continue to meet and work with lots of librarians from different backgrounds and upbringings–particularly since so many of the students we work with are from different communities and cultures.
Jeremiah is an eloquent writer and blogger. He had worked with APALA’s Newsletter & Publications Committee and the Web Content Subcommittee on many tasks and authored a number of articles.
Interview conducted by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow. Editing and writing support provided by Alyssa Jocson Porter.
by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
While Roberto C. Delgadillo has only been a member of APALA since December 2012, he has been a significant friend to many APALA members and a stalwart ally of our organization, before and since this time. Roberto joined APALA after the 2nd Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC), held in Kansas City, Missouri in September 2012. He was inspired to join our ranks because
I came away very impressed at the work of a number of high energy, committed and solid APALA members that really walked the line and addressed issues faced by all POC in the library profession.
Roberto says that he has yet to become more involved in APALA’s work, but he has already made some astounding contributions to the librarian profession and ALA. The latest was his participation as a panelist for the 2014 APALA President’s program “Immigration Reform, Asian Americans, and Librarianship” during ALA Annual in Las Vegas, NV.
Roberto shares his cultural heritage and background:
I am Nicaraguan by birth and traveled with my family to the United States in the spring of 1975. We came to Los Angeles to take advantage of an offer by Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children to have corrective surgical operations performed on my left leg and right knee as a result of a bout of childhood polio. That disease and a number of others broke out following the earthquake that occurred at 12:29 a.m. on Saturday, December 23, 1972 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Needless to say, it was not the Christmas many Nicas expected!
By the time the aforementioned operations were completed in 1978, my family knew we would not return and so remained undocumented for a decade until our citizenship status could be resolved. Unlike many Nicaraguans at that time, we were raised as Baptists and not Catholic. I mention this because I recall many instances where others assumed otherwise or, because of the variety of Spanish I was raised with, thought we were of Mexican origin. More than once I had to remind to some, jokingly, that Nicas do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo and had we been there more than likely fought alongside the French during the Battle of Puebla.
As a Research Support Services Librarian at University of California, Davis, Roberto is the subject liaison to many disciplines and research areas: Chicana/o Studies, Disability Studies, Latin American Studies, Literatures in English, Military Science, Physical Education, Religious Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures.
Roberto mentions that one of his main goals in his professional work is outreach so that students, especially those from historically underrepresented backgrounds, understand the role of the library in their research and education. He actively tries to remind these students that “they have services they pay for all too often go unused or that others before them paid for in unmeasurable and unacknowledged ways.”
In addition to his commitment to outreach to students, Roberto also finds enjoyment and fulfillment in being a mentor to other librarians, saying,
My mentorship activities attune me to the ever changing landscape of librarianship and the need to serve and be there for others when they leave the confines of the university or consider career choices. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have had a number of mentors that freely gave me their patient counsel, support and kindness in the choices I’ve made. In turn, I feel the need to share and or empathize with others what I have learned not only as a librarian, but as an immigrant to this country, as a disabled person, and finally as the first in my family to earn a Master’s and subsequently a doctorate degree. I feel energized whenever I find someone willing to listen to what I have to say or, conversely, when they seek me out! I don’t want, in my career, to be known as what I refer to as a “Lord Poopington”: one who never goes beyond the library desk or is willing to share what life lessons informed them.
Perhaps Roberto’s proactive attitude is led by his desire to live by the last stanzas of Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes”:
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Interview conducted by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow. Editing and writing support provided by Alyssa Jocson Porter.
by Manlia Xiong
On March 31, 2015, I had the chance to conduct a phone interview with Thuy Vo Dang, Archivist for the Orange County and Southeast Asian Archive (OC & SEAA) Center; a part of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Libraries. With the opening of the new OC & SEAA Center on May 13, 2015, the center will provide both physical and virtual spaces for intellectual discovery and innovative research for UCI faculty, students, and the community at large. To learn how you can support the OC & SEAA Center, please visit http://ocseaa.lib.uci.edu/support.html.
Manlia Xiong (MX): Hi, Thuy. Thank you for sharing some of your time with me this afternoon. May you, please introduce yourself and briefly describe your role with the OC & SEAA collection?
Thuy Vo Dang (TVD): Thank you for having me. My title is Archivist for the Southeast Asian Archive (SEAA) and Regional History in University of California, Irvine (UCI) Libraries. My primary role involves collection development in the SEAA and OC regional history collections. I set priorities for organizations’ and individuals’ records we want to collect from. From the SEAA side, my role overlaps with bibliographer responsibilities of curating a cohesive collection on the populations from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. They include a wide range of disciplines and multiple formats from audiovisual materials, to dissertations, theses, serials, and monographs. Also, I cultivate donor relationships in the community by being a liaison to community organizations and individuals. For example, we had received some records from the Khmer Girls in Action of Long Beach. These are some of the community outreach I do.
With the opening of the OC & SEAA Center, my main responsibility is the management of the space and building out new programs to introduce our collections to users. We have a really great space for instruction, so I’m trying to build that up more going forward. Then, we also have an oral history recording studio. One of my future projects is to build oral history support services. Not only do we collect and preserve oral histories, but we want to promote and empower partons to do their own documentation and record their histories here. We provide the reference materials, best practices, guides, manuals, examples of documentation forms, equipment, and documents that they can use to do the oral histories themselves. We have the equipment here, and they can come use or check them out. This sums up what I’m currently doing in my role in the UCI Libraries.
MX: Wow! Your role and responsibilities is another great example of the many hats a Librarian wears. This comes to show how we never do the same thing day in and day out and are constantly challenged in new ways.
TVD: Yes, we are.
MX: Now, could you tell me a little bit on how the SEAA collection got started? How was it built? Who are the particular people who played a role in the development or change of the collection? What role or mission does the collection address?
TVD: The SEAA is almost 30 years old. The SEAA was founded in 1987. I’d say this is a really great example of a community based archive. The catalyst for the formation of the SEAA did not come from the UCI Libraries, or as a response to the curriculum or to a faculty member’s research. Instead, the motivation came from the SEA community. As the SEA community developed in and around the county, the SEA community approached the University to document the history. Essentially it was the Vietnamese community lead by Professor Pham Cao Duong and Vu-Dinh Minh who had approached the University concerning the need to document the growing number of SEA in OC, and at that time there were no departments or units interested. However, UCI Libraries did have a research librarian who was in charge of the OC subject area. Her name is Anne Frank. She was willing to start building that relationship and collection.
As there was little funding for the new collection, initial materials were collected by donation. In 1993, relying on the community’s support the SEAA Advisory Board was formed by several key individuals including one person who is still very active named Prany Sananikone (he is currently our SEA ambassador), Professor Pham Cao Duong, Dr. Bui MInh Duc, and librarian Angela Yang. All these individuals really contributed to the phase of outreaching and building our collection via gift monographs. So, they solicited materials from the community, organizations, and individuals to send in or donate their records for the archive. From there, the collection organically grew
As the collection grew, it expanded to include the experiences of SEA refugees and immigrants all over the United States. However, the special focus on OC and California remains. It has become the mission of the SEAA to preserve and document the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of SEA Americans, beginning with the exodus from Southeast Asia through the process of resettlement, and to transformations in the present and future.
MX: It’s amazing to hear how many people were passionately involved in the construction and development of the collection. Moreover, to hear how the collection had become an asset to the OC & SEA community there.
Additionally, may you please describe the physical facilities that house the OC & SEAA collection? Overall, what makes OC & SEAA collection significant or unique compare to other collection?
TVD: At first, Anne kept all the items donated and collected in her office. As the collection grew, it went from a few drawers in a file cabinet, to the quarters in the basement of the UCI Libraries where the materials were housed and used with ease. It was, in the late 1990s, that the collection moved into its own reading room. The reading room was about a 600 square foot reading room located on the third floor of the Langson Library, which was once called the Main Library. In that space, the collection had a breathing room to grow and soon it outgrew that space.
In 2007, Anne retired and that was the same time of the budget crisis for the University of California. So, her position was not filled and another librarian was given the SEAA as an one more additional area of responsibility to oversee. The librarian was Christina Woo. Woo did a great job in maintaining the bibliographic responsibilities of the collection and also did some outreach. She also developed a relationship with the special collections department and a road show to take out to the community. These were some of the things to help stabilize the collection within those years.
In 2012, this position, the Archivist for the SEAA and Regional History was developed and I was appointed in 2013. We started strategizing on how we could grow both the collection and space, so that our users can start here as the beginning point for them to explore this important history. With strong support from our University Librarian, Lorelei Tanji, within a nine month period, we were able to build out the new OC & SEAA Center, which is a 2,800 square-feet space located across from Langson Library in the Libraries Gateway Study Center.
I believe what makes the collection unique is we are part of Special Collections and Archives; in a sense we are a library within a library. However, with our archival collections described and made accessible through the Online Archive of California (OAC) and with functions such as circulating books, we are able to provide reference. When we are all fully operational in May, we will have more resources that will be very unique to our collection, in particular through our commitment to expanding community engagement.
MX: Can you tell me how is the OC & SEAA collection organized? What various subcollections, formats, and unique items are included in the collection?
TVD: The Orange County and Southeast Asian Archive collections are either organized by creators, donors, organizations, and in chronological order of materials that have been accessioned and processed into the collections. The collections are not organized by subgroups or ethics groups.
One thing I want to mention is a strong partnership we have with the Vietnamese American Oral History Project (VAOHP), which began in 2011 and came out of the Department of Asian American Studies of UCI. The VAOHP objective is to capture the oral histories of first generation Vietnamese Americans who have memories of life in Vietnam, the Vietnam War, and the displacement and resettlement of refugees from Vietnam. The project plays an instrumental role in documenting their histories and legacies in order to preserve their stories for future generations. This is a born-digital oral history project. It began as an audio recording project, and now the next phase is incorporating video Interviews. This digital repository has been a really great model of how a library partnership early on can help facilitate quick access to our collection. The turnaround time for many of the oral history is between two to six months, which means that the interview is fully recorded, transcribed, translated, and made available via UCISpace. UCISpace @ the Libraries is part of a suite of digital scholarship services offered by the UCI Libraries and is a service for the UCI community to publish, manage, and preserve diverse kinds of research output. UCISpace is our depository where we archive and make our oral history accessible to the community. This is an example of a subcollection within the UCI libraries that I believe really shows a great model of University and community partnership, as well as inter-campus collaboration.
MX: May you share with me what programs are available to researchers, visitors, and community education?
TVD: In addition to the VAOHP as I had mentioned, the OC & SEAA collection has a strong collaboration with faculty on our campus. I want to mention one of our research faculty, Linda Trinh Vo, in particular. Linda is an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies here at UCI. She’s been with us for about 15 years and she has really been a great ally to the Southeast Asian Archive by embedding the collection into her curriculum, so her students may use the materials in their coursework. Drawing upon her field of expertise, she is also instrumental in expanding the collection through the advocacy work she performs in the SEA community. Moreover, she is also the Lead Faculty Advisor for “The Southeast Asian Archive Access Project,” that developed Documenting the Southeast Asian American Experience (SEAAdoc).
The SEAAdoc project is an educational resource of the SEAA at the UCI Libraries. The project brings together the core materials for elementary, secondary, and community college students who want to learn more about the immigrants and refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
In addition to the programs that are available through the OC & SEAA Center, we also have the SEAA Anne Frank Visiting Researcher Award. The purpose of the award is for faculty, students and independent researchers like filmmakers and writers who live outside of OC and are not affiliated with UCI to use the research collections in the SEAA.
MX: These are some wonderful programs that you had described. I hope, as we publish this article, it will help bring some prospect visitors, donors, and researchers to the OC & SEAA and Regional History Center.
TVD: Most definitely!
MX: Lastly, if someone is interested in visiting the collection, where is the center located, what are the hours and days of operation, and whom should they contact if they have additional questions about the collection and center?
TVD: Sure! The OC & SEAA Center is on the first floor of the Libraries Gateway Study Center, next door to Langson Library, on the UCI campus. We are open Monday through Friday, from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., and by appointment. My email is email@example.com and my office number is (949) 824-1878. An alternative contact here is Jackson Bui, who is our Technical and Access Services Assistant. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his office number is (949) 824-5269.
Editing assistance provided by Alyssa Jocson Porter.