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 first of three installments, Tarida Anantachai (Syracuse University), Simon Lee (UCLA), and Cynthia Mari Orozco (CSU Long Beach) reflect on MIECL’s cohort environment and discussions on supportive relationships.
One of MIECL’s learning objectives is to “[develop] a community of peers with whom participants share common experiences and on whom they can rely over time and distance for support and encouragement.” What do you think is the greatest value of the MIECL community?
Tarida Anantachai (TA): Actually, the community was the greatest value of MIECL itself. I am incredibly honored to have connected with such an amazing group of diverse librarians, which has also led to some exciting subsequent collaborations (like this article!). Establishing this community for openly sharing our thoughts—especially important for those who may have felt isolated or cautious in their new professional environments—and knowing that we and previous MIECL graduates are out there supporting other early career, diverse librarians has been both comforting and empowering. I know that we will be a constant presence for each other throughout our careers, and could not be more grateful for it.
As an early career librarian of color, it can be difficult finding others who share your perspective and experiences.
Simon Lee (SL): The greatest value of the Institute is connecting with a pool of diverse librarians with whom I can identify with. We are shaping the foundation of our early professional careers and have aspirations to lead and excel. The relationship I built with my cohort will stay with me throughout my professional career. This article mini-series is evidence that the connection does not end at the conclusion of the Institute. I reconnected with numerous members of my cohort through the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), we are well connected via social media, and soon I’ll be working with one employed by our library. Only time will tell what other merits will come from being a part of the MIECL.
Cynthia Mari Orozco (CMO): As an early career librarian of color, it can be difficult finding others who share your perspective and experiences. The Institute brought together a strong, passionate cohort of librarians with whom I was able to openly share my thoughts, discuss frustrations and ambiguity, and celebrate milestones and triumphs. Through the Institute, I gained an incredible support system that I have been able to turn to and continue that open dialogue. I have already been collaborating with some of my cohort members on future projects, including proposals for conference presentations and an LIS Microaggressions zine series.
What were the various types of support systems that were discussed at the Institute? How have you applied the lessons you’ve learned about them since then?
TA: Mentoring, unlike other support systems such as helping or coaching relationships, is more focused on broader issues related to the overall growth and development of the mentee. While guidance and feedback is also involved, it is more in terms of providing inspiration and creating a safe space that encourages self-exploration and discovery. Positive mentoring relationships are ongoing conversations of mutual trust that ultimately bolster the mentee’s own aspirations and interests.
Learning about supportive relationships at MIECL has helped me to better appreciate the distinct roles that our varied support systems play in our lives, and which ones may be more appropriate to seek out or apply in particular situations. For instance, I now approach my mentoring relationships as opportunities to reflectively explore ideas on a more holistic level, rather than to simply gather advice or assistance with a given task as in a coaching conversation. Amongst my colleagues and even my friends I have already recognized instances when a particular support behavior (e.g. offering feedback vs. listening vs. empowering someone to action) is better suited for the given need, and feel it has helped me to better address our relationship expectations, goals, and many ways we can support each other.
SL: Coaching/Feedback (CF): The goal of CF is to draw out the best one could be in their position. This challenging support system takes time to master. CF addresses problematic behaviors in a timely, specific, and focused manner. If, hypothetically, a sudden and unexpected outburst arises, find a reasonable time to discuss the issue, be specific about the outburst, and focus on that. The impact of that outburst may have led to subsequent problems which affects an entire team. Feedback requires that you truly desire to help a person improve and that one be thoughtful, diplomatic, and mindful. Most importantly, it requires that the subject is a willing and careful listener so it could be acted upon. Having an agreed action plan to gauge improvement is a possibility for effective coaching and feedback.
The Institute taught me the distinctions between these three supportive systems. My previous mentorships were short-lived because they were informal and unstructured. I have since continued regular, structured monthly meetings with my mentor which allow me to go back to readings, conversations, and focus on learning goals. The helping relationship enabled me to exercise better listening, which empower others to verbalize solutions they can claim as their own. CF should occur over the course of the year as opposed to the performance evaluation period. Time is needed for noticeable improvements.
Positive mentoring relationships are ongoing conversations of mutual trust that ultimately bolster the mentee’s own aspirations and interests.
CMO: Lastly, there’s the helping relationship, in which a person has a specific problem and the helper listens and provides guidance and perspective. An effective helper simply guides, rather than drives, the conversation while allowing the person to essentially discover and evaluate solutions on their own. As a mentor to sophomore students on academic probation, I meet regularly with my mentees and have incorporated this approach when we sit down and try to find solutions for academic success.
The lessons I have learned through the Institute have also guided me in my role as the mentor, helper, or coach when working with my colleagues or with mentees who are in library school. Learning when it is appropriate to offer guidance, when to give advice or opinions, or when it is best to sit back quietly and let others find their own paths is most certainly an art form—something that I look forward to working on over the course of my career and as I continue to connect with others in the field.
It’s time to start getting excited!
There you’ll find all the latest news and information about our 35th Anniversary & Symposium in one handy place. Check it out now and bookmark it for future reference ease.
And in case you missed it, the deadline for submissions has been extended to October 31.
We know you’re awesome, so how about sharing what you know or have done with the rest the rest of us? Don’t wait, submit today!
The Asian / Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) turns 35 in 2015! To commemorate this milestone, APALA is holding a one-day symposium on Thursday, June 25 at McLaren Hall on the University of San Francisco campus. Additional programs and cultural events will be organized during the American Library Association Annual Conference.
Founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian and Pacific ancestries, APALA has long been committed to supporting and providing greater visibility for Asian / Pacific American (APA) professionals in the areas of libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) and advancing services to APA communities. The 35th Anniversary & Symposium is an opportune time to reflect upon and continue to execute its mission by providing information and/or training on: library programs and resources for APA communities; becoming successful library leaders and advocates; and creating linkages with other library associations and APA organizations.
APALA has always aimed to serve as a bridge between LAM professionals and APA communities; LAM professionals of diverse backgrounds; and libraries and APA communities. The symposium continues this theme, bringing in the idea of building bridges in all its connotations — physical, temporal, historical, virtual, individual, organizational, local, and global.
Building Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Librarianship & Advocacy
The event is intended to foster discussion address questions such as:
With its iconic bridges, San Francisco provides an ideal backdrop for these discussions. The fact that it is also the site of several key landmarks and significant historical events for APAs, such as Angel Island, the I-Hotel, the first Ethnic Studies Department, makes it an even more appropriate place to connect past with the present and future.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
APALA invites you to submit a proposal that addresses the symposium’s theme of building bridges that highlight the vital links between libraries and communities; librarians and library users; ideas and successful outcomes. The ideal presentation would fall under one of these tracks and focus on diverse communities, particularly Asian / Pacific Americans.
a. Community Building and Outreach
b. Cultural Heritage and Educational Materials
c. Leadership and Advocacy
d. Interpersonal and Career Growth
Workshop Session (75 minutes)
A group session with facilitator(s) who provide an interactive workshop on a project or topic. The session could be on music, research, video/film making, music, archiving, oral history, outreach programming, advocacy training, or related topics.
Roundtable Session (75 minutes)
A facilitated a discussion amongst presenters and audience participants on a particular topic or broader issue. Submissions should include multiple viewpoints and diverse voices. The majority of the allotted time should be devoted to discussion involving audience members.
Paper/Panel Presentation (75 minutes)
Presentations may cover a specialized topic from different perspectives or a general topic in- depth. Presenters should provide sufficient time for audience discussion. The proposal should specify a moderator who will organize the panel and regulate time. Individual paper submissions could be added in a panel program.
Poster Session (60 minutes)
A creative visual representation of a topic that provides an informal way to convey research, projects, services or ideas of interest to attendees. Presenters will be expected to set-up and host their poster during the allotted time.
RULES FOR SUBMISSION
Please include the following information in your proposal:
Primary Contact: Name, title, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, phone number Participants: name, title, affiliation, email address, and phone number
Program Track (select one of the following):
Program Format (select one of the following):
Data projector and screen will be provided.
All proposals must be received by midnight PST on October 31, 2014 as a Word document to firstname.lastname@example.org. Notifications of proposal selection will be made beginning November 15, 2014.
Questions may be sent to the APALA 35 Program Committee at email@example.com.
APALA programs are non-commercial educational learning experiences. Under no circumstances should a workshop, session or poster presentation be used for direct promotion of a speaker’s product, service, or other self-interest.
All selected program presenters must be registered for the APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium in order to present.
Presenters are responsible for paying the conference registration fee, travel, and lodging.
Presenters may be invited to use a format other than the one(s) selected or might be invited to co- present with others who have proposed similar topics.
by Ann Matsushima Chu
The Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Scholarship and Awards Committee announced the following Travel Grant recipient during the ALA Annual Conference 2014 in Las Vegas:
Gerie Ventura has been a library paraprofessional for almost twenty years and currently is employed as the Circulation Operations Lead at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington. While brand new to APALA, Ventura was first introduced to the group and the travel grant through librarian colleague Karen Fernandez. Ventura currently attends Emporia State University on the Portland, Oregon campus with a concentration in Leadership and Administration, and plans to graduate in 2015. Ventura expresses excitement in learning the plans for APALA’s upcoming conference in San Francisco, as well as being open to new opportunities for her involvement and leadership as she finishes up with library school.
When asked about her experiences at ALA, Ventura states that she was “on Cloud 9” during most of the 2014 ALA Conference, knowing how overwhelming the conference can be yet fueled by inspiring and empowering conversations with many APALA librarians and other librarians of color. The panel discussions of first-time directors and librarians of color, as well as an OCLC Symposium on the “future of libraries” were most thought provoking and challenging for Ventura.
Ventura makes note on how hearing current APALA President Eileen Bosch share stories about the challenges of assuming leadership roles in libraries has allowed her to feel more confident that meeting her educational goal of completing library school is possible. She is comforted by the fact that there is a network of librarians in and outside of APALA who are happy to lend an ear or offer advice. This open flow of librarians sharing their stories or assistance in the future allows Ventura to feel more comfortable and connected to the community of librarians.
Since Ventura is currently in library school, her primary interests lie in hearing the practical application process of information theory in her classes. While taking a Collection Development class, she enjoyed listening to the librarians from around the nation in the collection management interest group, as they discussed managing multiple digital products and how floating collections affect access to library materials for inner-city/urban public library customers.
Her vision for librarianship stems from the many librarians who have encouraged her throughout her entire educational career. “Keeping the karma going” is Ventura’s motto to putting a friendly, accessible face to librarianship for APA library users and, especially, non-users. Ventura thinks there are many within the vast APA community who are not yet aware of the amazing library services that are available to and for them, at no cost. She excitedly envisions continuing “talking libraries” with her friends and family to inform them of how libraries can enrich their lives, both virtually and face-to-face, and of how to make deeper connections between APA community groups and many libraries that want to serve them.
If you’ve heard about “the big library conference” and have always wanted to attend, Ventura encourages you to apply for the 2015 APALA Travel Grant. She encourages future participants to “make the most out of it by finding workshops and sessions of interest to you and meet as many APALA members and librarians as you can. They will inspire and encourage you!”
Many thanks to Gerie Ventura! Best wishes as you continue your librarianship journey!
Editing assistance provided by Raymond Wang.
by Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Hanna Lee is a new librarian professional and is currently a Youth Services Librarian at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey. Librarianship is not her first career, however. She spent quite a bit of time as a teacher in middle school and high school and as a student services staff member in a higher education setting.
Of her path to professional librarianship, Hanna writes:
After living in Mozambique for a little bit and volunteering at an international school library there, I finally decided to pursue librarianship. It was something I’d been planning to do since I was an avid library visitor as a child! I went to Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, started interning at my current library, graduated in May 2013, and started working full-time there that August. I’m very, very lucky to be at a wonderful library with an incredibly engaged community.
Hanna is also a new APALA member, having just joined our association in the summer of 2013. Of her involvement, she writes:
I joined APALA last summer to get connected to other APA librarians. Having grown up in a predominantly [racially] white Midwestern suburb, and then having spent the majority of my adult life prior to now in largely black urban environments, I see APALA as a great way to join a larger community of people/librarians with whom I have some specific shared experiences. The website, the emails, and the community at large have been huge resources for me already, even if I haven’t yet become as active within the organization as I would like. This year, I was particularly glad to be a member of APALA during the robust discussion following BCALA’s statement regarding the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. It’s heartening to be a part of a body of thoughtful professionals who take each other’s concerns seriously.
When asked about her decision to join ALA’s Emerging Leaders program, Hanna’s response:
Since I’m always on the lookout for opportunities for professional growth and enrichment, I learned about the ALA Emerging Leaders program on the ALA website. My library is an extremely supportive place, and we are encouraged to get involved in local and national associations. I was particularly interested in having a chance to meet and work with “emerging leaders” from all over the country and beyond. Since I’m still very new to the profession and ALA, it was really nice to have a more structured, intimate introduction to all of this.
For Hanna’s ALA-EL project, she worked with Team E to develop a calculator that can quantitatively translate the value of local youth-oriented services and programs. Team E’s project is sponsored by ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children). Of this project, Hanna writes:
ALSC charged my group to create a library value calculator for youth services. Basically, an online form that calculates a library’s value based on usage, like this one on ALA’s website: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/makingthecase/
library_calculator. Except just specifically focused on youth services.
This project was intended to be of use to librarians in underserved communities who may benefit from such a tool when advocating for maintaining or increasing services. The more research our group did, though, the more we started to think that this project could not actually be accurate or helpful, since value calculators rely on a very simple return on investment model that fails to take into account the many complex, social benefits of library youth services.
So instead, we offered a glimpse into some of the other valuation methods being used in other areas—public libraries at large, school libraries, museums and other non-profits—and recommended that ALSC continue this project with a task force and future Emerging Leader teams. At the Annual Conference 2014, the ALSC Executive Board told us that they have decided to move forward with our recommendations, which was very exciting.
The ALA Emerging Leaders program is a great way for participants to become more involved with ALA, the professional library organization in the United States, and its affiliate organizations. When asked what she recommends aspiring ELs do to apply and participate in the program, especially those who may be interested but reluctant, Hanna has this to say:
Do it! It’s a great way to get connected to passionate people and a wealth of resources, quickly. I would also encourage incoming Emerging Leaders to take some care in the selection of their project, if possible. The ALSC staff liaison and member guide on my project both went above and beyond, which made a huge difference in my experience. It also seems that the program leaders are truly interested in the feedback of participants (for example, they’ve made the cohorts much smaller, which was a hugely positive change), and I think the program is just going to continue to get better and better.
Thank you, Hanna, for sharing your great insight. We hope APALA members are encouraged to take part in the Emerging Leaders program.
Editing by Jaena Rae Cabrera.
by Melissa Cardenas-Dow
You may remember Raymond Pun when he was still working at The New York Public Library. He also wrote a “What’s Your Normal?” essay for APALA that was published in May 2013. Since then, Ray, as he wants to be called, has moved to Shanghai, China, where he now works as a reference and research services librarian for the New York University campus there.
Of the beginnings of his librarian career, Ray writes:
I’ve been working in libraries since 2006 as an undergraduate intern and student worker. And like many people that I know, I just fell into the career of being a librarian. I was encouraged by my mentors in college to pursue a degree in library science since I was already working in one of the best research libraries in the world: The New York Public Library: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
I went to City University of New York: Queens College for my MLS, and then later received an MA in East Asian Studies from St. John’s University, my alma mater. Initially I was getting an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, but due to the rise of the Arab Spring and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East (particularly in Egypt and Syria where I wanted to study), it just didn’t seem like a viable idea to pursue that course of study since I wouldn’t be able to visit those countries at all. So I switched regional studies. Maybe in the future I’ll go back to finish up my M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies.
For my first professional job, I was promoted as a librarian in NYPL in 2010. Later, I was encouraged to apply for the ALA-EL program and for my current position as a reference and research services librarian in New York University Shanghai in China. I’m currently in Shanghai, collaboratively building the library collections and services to support the NYU community. It has been a fascinating experience and a great opportunity to start a new job and work abroad in a startup environment.
Since moving to Shanghai, Ray has scaled back his involvement with APALA. Of his most recent involvement in APALA, Ray writes:
Most recently, I’ve contributed articles to the newsletter and content for the website, volunteered my time to represent APALA in the exhibition booth at ALA annual and APALA’s poster in the ALA Diversity and Outreach Fair. I’ve also managed to talk to people about the benefits of joining APALA and it has worked! So in that sense, I’ve been an “unofficial ambassador” for APALA. Since I am working abroad, it can be tricky to coordinate my involvement with the organization. Soon, I hope to be more active!
When asked about his decision to apply to the ALA Emerging Leaders program, Ray says:
I decided to apply to the ALA-EL program because I was interested in working on a group project that extended beyond my workplace, but I didn’t know I would also be moving to China at that time. It became a “global project collaboration,” in that sense. In the beginning, I also didn’t think I could pull it off, but I did and it turned out to be a very good learning experience. I found out about this program, maybe 3 years ago, from NYPL colleagues who also went through the ALA-EL program. They said it was a good way to learn more about ALA and its leadership structure. I thought about being more active in ALA, but didn’t know where to begin so the ALA-EL program seemed like a good start.
Ray worked with fellow APALA member, Monnee Tong, on the same ALA-EL project.
For my EL project, my team and I worked on an oral history video featuring two prominent Chinese American librarians who have contributed a lot to the profession. Since my project was sponsored by CALA (Chinese American Library Association), this was timely and appropriate. The two librarians are Dr. Lois Mai Chan from University of Kentucky and Dr. Tze-Chung Li from Dominican University. My project specifically focused on Dr. Lois Mai Chan. We interviewed her and some of her former students about the influence and impact Chan had on our profession. It was a lot of work, but it was also fun and rewarding. I worked closely with Monnee Tong from San Diego Public Library. She was my partner in crime on this video project. She was great to work with!
We asked Ray if he could give advice to anyone aspiring to take part in the ALA-EL program. He writes:
I would say — just apply for it. It’s good to apply for things and learn about different application processes. And if you get accepted (great!) but not get sponsored by an association, you should still participate if you can. The way I see it, ALA-EL provides a little bit of networking, resume/CV boosting, but there’s definitely a strong learning component. If you are interested in designing a project and working in a collaborative team, then this is perfect for you because you’ll learn a lot about teamwork, communication, leadership, and project and time management. All of these are great experiences to put on your resume/CV, but also great interview stories to tell future employers.
For your ALA-EL application, focus on something unique about yourself–what do you think you are doing or can provide that many people can’t? What are some challenges and obstacles that you overcame? Those character-defining moments can make you really stand out from a pool of applicants. Being part of APALA also gives you a wide connection to people who have participated in the EL program. They can give you advice on your essays, look over your resume/CV, or help brainstorm as well. So you aren’t alone in the process!
Ray was one of two CALA-sponsored 2014 Emerging Leaders.
Thank you very much, Ray. APALA is very proud and lucky to have you in our association. We look forward to your continuing involvement.
Editing assistance provided by Jaena Rae Cabrera.