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.
by Melissa Cardenas-Dow
APALA member Monnee Tong has just finished her ALA Emerging Leaders experience with the rest of the 2014 ALA-EL class. She is a librarian at the San Diego Public Library system, working in the newly built Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common, the central branch of the system. Monnee has been at her position in San Diego since June 2012, when she was hired right after graduation from the iSchool at the University of Washington. She holds a B.A. in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley.
Of her career path to librarianship, Monnee writes:
Before I became a librarian, I worked in educational publishing, a very different professional environment from public libraries (even though they both involve books!)… It’s been a whirlwind two years, jam-packed with a whole lot of learning, but it’s all been worth it.
What I love most about being a librarian is what I missed in publishing—people! I love connecting with different people, whether they are my supportive and collaborative co-workers at SDPL, the teen interns I supervise in our new multimedia lab, the partner organizations we work with to bring free services and programs to the community, or the patron who just discovered the oversize section in Art & Music. People make my job rewarding, challenging, and never boring.
Monnee is a new APALA member and is part of the 2013-2015 Picture Book Literature Committee, which is responsible for selecting the awardees of the annual Asian American Literature prize for picture books. For Monnee, the work of the APALA Picture Book Literature Committee has a strong personal connection:
Although I’m from diverse California, I grew up in a rural town in the Sierra Foothills with almost no Asian Pacific American peers, especially none with parents who were immigrants like mine. I was always searching (and still searching!) for characters in books who resembled my experience in some way, shape or form. I’m really happy to be part of this committee so I can learn about and promote API authors and stories.
Monnee’s ALA Emerging Leader team project is an interesting study in virtual collaboration. Of it, she writes:
Our Emerging Leader group (which included fellow ELs Ray Pun, Sam Suber, and Leila Rod-Welch,) worked on the project “Telling Chinese American Librarians’ Stories” for the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA). We created two short videos about notable Chinese American librarians Dr. Lois Mai Chan and Dr. Tze-chung Li. Both videos can be found on the CALA YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.
I worked on the video about Dr. Lois Mai Chan with Ray Pun. (You may recognize her name if you read “Cataloging and Classification” in library school.) The big challenge was how to work on a video about Dr. Chan, who lives in Kentucky, and collaborate with Ray, who lives in Shanghai. I got pretty good at figuring out what time it was in Shanghai!
We also received a lot of help from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Kentucky (UK) where Dr. Chan is Professor Emeritus. UK found these amazing vintage photos of Dr. Chan and filmed several interviews for us. We took the footage and edited it in iMovie and pared all the material down to a 13-minute video.
This project gave me the opportunity to build my video editing skills, to learn about a venerable and accomplished figure in the Chinese American and library communities, and to connect with CALA. Right before we started the project, I was assigned to coordinate San Diego Central Library’s multimedia lab (the IDEA Lab,) and had just taken an iMovie workshop. The EL project gave me the opportunity to really work on my editing skills in iMovie and now I feel I can ‘graduate’ to either Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro.
Check out our final product on CALA’s YouTube channel.
For the convenience of our readers, we have embedded Team G’s video on Dr. Lois Mai Chan in this post. Please view the video above.
Monnee offers these pieces of advice to anyone interested in participating in the 2015 ALA Emerging Leaders cohort:
I would advise anyone thinking about applying to ensure that you have the time to devote to the program, because it does take a significant amount of time (at least in my opinion it did!). At times, it was reminiscent of library school (which I did online), so I’m glad that the two didn’t coincide. I would suggest that anyone currently in an online program apply later. That way, you won’t have another online project in addition to your current coursework.
When I was thinking of applying, I found this post from Abby the Librarian helpful (although I should have paid more attention to the fifth bullet point, addressing public, children’s, and teen librarians—Abby, you were right!). If you know someone that went through the program you can talk to, reach out to her/him. I didn’t know anyone but relied on what I read online, and I wish I had reached out to people to get a better sense of what the program entailed.
Despite the time involved, I’m still glad I did the EL program. I got to attend my first ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences, meet library folk from around the country and world, and be part of a project that gives back to the Chinese American and library communities. I’m also so grateful to my colleagues and mentors at my library, who were all so supportive and excited for me, and proud that I was representing them to the greater library community.
Monnee, we are very happy and proud that you are among us in APALA!
Editing assistance by Jaena Rae Cabrera.
Many thanks to all the committee chairs and their members for your dedicated service this year!