by Melissa Cardenas-Dow and Molly Higgins
In preparation for our APALA 35th Anniversary & Symposium celebration, the web content subcommittee has been looking back and reaching out to APALA founding members. Previously, we featured Drs. Kharkanis, Har Nicolescu, and Collantes. We also featured Dr. Ken Yamashita, who wrote a very informative article on the history of APALA.
This article featuring an APA library leader focuses on APALA founding member, Dr. Henry C. Chang, Director of Library Services at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, California. Below is an edited version of an email conversation we had over the summer and early fall of 2014. We discussed APALA, librarianship and Dr. Chang’s career trajectory.
Melissa Cardenas-Dow (MICD): What drew you into librarianship?
Henry C. Chang (HCC): I was pursuing my Master’s degree in demography at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I became interested in librarianship while working part time at the library on campus. After I obtained my first Master’s degree in 1966, I continued my studies at the University of Minnesota, where I attained a second Master’s degree in Library Science in 1968. Later, I was recruited to the university library faculty as Public Services Librarian. After one year in that position, I was promoted and joined the library administration as Assistant Head. I worked on my doctoral degree, which I attained in 1974, majoring in sociology with a minor in library science. The next year, in 1975, I was offered the position as Chief Librarian and Lecturer in social sciences at the University of the Virgin Islands. In January 1990, I relocated to Los Angeles and became Director of Braille Institute Library Services, the position I still hold.
MICD: Why did you get involved with the founding of APALA? How were you involved with the organization as it grew?
HCC: I was very active in the American Library Association (ALA) after I obtained my professional degree in Library Services in the 1960s. At that time, the Association of Jewish Libraries already existed, the California Librarians Black Caucus was established in 1970, and REFORMA, the national association to promote library services to Latinos, was organized in 1971. Many Asian American library colleagues felt that there was a great need to have an organization of our own. As one of the leaders at that time, I took the initiative and the responsibility to organize the Asian American Librarians Caucus (AALC) in 1975 at the ALA Conference in San Francisco, where a large Asian community existed. I was elected Chairperson and we held the first meeting to seek funding for scholarships in library/information science for Asian Americans. About 500 people attended. The caucus held its future meetings during ALA Midwinter and the ALA Annual Conference and I continued to be involved through the 1980s. I received a certificate of appreciation from ALA as Councilor in recognition of my distinguished services in 1984.
MICD: What was the significance of APALA when it was founded? How has it changed over the past 35 years?
HCC: The purpose of the APALA predecessor organization, AALC, when it was founded was to provide a forum for discussion of problems and concerns of Asian Pacific American librarians and to support their aspirations. There was also a need to promote and improve library services to Asian American communities. One objective was to increase communication between Asian American librarians and other librarians and to gain recognition for Asian Pacific American librarians’ contributions to the profession. Membership in the AALC was opened to librarians of Asian ancestry including Asian Indian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese employed in U.S. libraries. The caucus expanded and eventually became APALA in 1980. The APALA founders shared concerns about the invisibility of Asian American librarians. APALA affiliated with ALA in 1982 and became the primary professional association for Asian Pacific American librarians.
MICD: How do you define your Asian American identity and how does it influence your work as a librarian?
HCC: In the early 1970s, I responded to a need to establish a professional organization for all Asian American librarians. As a founder of the organization, I was the spokesperson for the Caucus to promote our programs and services. In those days, there was a large proportion of Asian Americans working in the library field, mostly in technical services. Many were not active and had no interest in participating in ALA or other professional activities. Some Asian American librarians had to overcome language and communication difficulties with mainstream communities. Relatively few Asian American librarians held management positions and we had, to work extra hard to prove ourselves. We, Asian American librarians, had to constantly challenge ourselves to work smarter and harder to be able to move up in our careers.
MICD: Do you have any advice for young Asian American librarians?
HCC: I tell them be proud to be an Asian American librarian and part of the society at large in a country of opportunity where they can fulfill the American Dream. As Asian American librarians we are the best qualified to reach out to our respective minority groups and extend library service and change lives. We can build special collections of interest to some Asians and also lead other groups to full participation in American society. I encourage them to get into management and make a significant contribution to the library community.
Molly Higgins wrote and clarified the questions for this interview. Alyssa Jocson provided editing assistance. Many thanks!
APALA members: do you have suggestions for APA library leaders whom we can feature on our website? If so, please send an email to melissa.cardenasdow(at)gmail.com with the subject: “APA Library Leaders.” I appreciate your suggestions! ~Melissa
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 Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
With the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association nearing its 35th Anniversary celebration, we continue remembering and honoring some of those instrumental in the founding of the organization. One such person is Lourdes Collantes.
Lourdes Collantes was born in a province 30 miles from Manila in the Philippines, one of seven children (McCook, 1998). The daughter of a professor at the University of the Philippines and a rice mill owner, she received her B.A. from the University of the Philippines. After helping with a cataloging project at UP as an undergrad, she decided to pursue a Master’s in Library Science, enrolling at Rutgers University in 1958.
At Rutgers, Collantes received her Master’s of Library Science degree and would also eventually pick up a M.Ed. and Ph.D. (in 1992) due to the scarcity of library jobs at the time. She served as an intern with East Orange (N.J.) Public Library for 14 months before returning to the Philippines to serve as Librarian-in-charge of the Social Sciences Division and Humanities and Reference at the University of the Philippines from 1961-67.
Named Assistant Professor in 1966, she also served as the Head of Acquisitions from 1968-71. In 1972, she became Assistant Librarian at Rutgers University’s Mathematical Sciences Library and then, one year later, became Associate Librarian at State University of New York at Old Westbury. She held this position for 24 years, before being named Acting Director in 1997.
At the 1980 American Library Association conference in New York, Collantes, Suzine Har Nicolescu, Sharad Karkhanis, Conchita Pineda, Henry Chang, Betty Tsai, and Tamiye Trejo Meehan met and decided to found the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (Yamashita, 2000). Collantes would serve as president of APALA in 1983-84. But her involvement with the organization did not end there; she also chaired the Awards, Nominations and Constitutions and Bylaws Committees. Within the American Library Association, Collantes served on the ALA Awards Committee from 1984-88 and was the chair of the Pay Equity Committee from 1991-93 and chair of David Clift Scholarship Committee in 1986.
Among additional accolades, Collantes was named Delegate to the People to People Library and Information Science Delegation to the People’s Republic of China in 1985, received Professional Development Librarian Research Awards from United University Professions in 1985 and 1987 and received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship in 1994.
She was also well-known in the library field for publications including “Degree of Agreement in Naming Objects and Concepts for Information Retrieval” in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and edited Asian/Pacific American Librarians: A Cross Cultural Perspective.
Lourdes Collantes could not be reached for this article.
McCook, K. (1998). “Lourdes Collantes.” Women of Color in Librarianship: An Oral History. Chicago, American Library Association
Yamashita, K. (2000). “Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association—A history of APALA and its founders.” Library Trends, 49(1), 88-109. Last retrieved June 22, 2014, from: http://www.apalaweb.org/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/apalahistory.pdf
Editing assistance provided by Alyssa Jocson.