How did your journey in working with East Asian libraries and collections begin? Were there any opportunities that encouraged you to step into the East Asian Studies Librarianship?
When I was a graduate student at Fudan University, I was taking a Chinese bibliography course. And Mr. Jin Shen, the former director of Harvard-Yenching Library Rare Book Division, was invited to our class to give a lecture about the overseas Chinese rare book collections. His lecture aroused my interest in East Asian Libraries and librarianship in North America. Therefore, I went to the University of Washington to study library science and met Dr. Zhijia Shen, Director and Chinese Studies Librarian at the Tateuchi East Asia Library. It was such a great opportunity to work with Dr. Shen and all the other TEAL members. They helped me understand different aspects of an East Asian Library. Without their mentorship, I cannot be who I am.
I also feel so grateful to work at the East Asian Library at the University of Minnesota as my first job as a librarian. My supervisor Kristi Jensen and my colleagues are so kind and helpful. And I also must give special thanks to Prof. Ann Waltner for showing me around the collections and introducing me to the East Asianist group in the Twin Cities area and the reading group she has organized for more than 20 years. Without their support, I cannot step into my role as a real East Asian Studies Librarian so fast and so smoothly. And they make me believe being an East Asian Studies Librarian is one of the best choices I have ever made.
What do you enjoy most about your career in East Asian librarianship so far?
Though I haven’t been a librarian for long, I really enjoy talking with students and faculty, hearing about their current research, and discussing how I can assist them with their projects and courses. I feel so thrilled when I’m able to be of help to them. And for myself, these discussions and talks also broaden my knowledge in various subjects.
And it’s really exciting to meet other East Asian Studies Librarians. Confucius says, “To have friends coming from afar, is this not a delight?” It’s always nice to meet friends who share the same or similar interests. And I will be able to learn from experienced senior librarians about how they deal with problems and do their work.
What would you like to achieve/accomplish in the next 5 years?
Currently, I’m still in the process of learning and practicing. In the next five years, I hope I can find my own style of working as an East Asian Studies Librarian. I hope I will be able to know and meet more librarians in CEAL and have a chance to collaborate with them on different projects. I also hope that I will be able to contribute to the development of East Asian Librarianship and CEAL.
What excites you about the development of East Asian librarianship in the future?
I think growth excites me most in the development of East Asian librarianship. I’m so new to this field. I’m ignorant of lots of things. However, as time goes by, I will meet more people and experience more changes and challenges. I believe I can become more confident, knowledgeable, and resourceful. This trajectory of growth will encourage me to work harder and do better.
The other thing that excites me a lot is the encounters with different people. As a librarian, I will work with people in various stages of their lives. They could be undergraduate students who just want to finish their assignments or who are interested in being East Asian studies scholars in the future, graduate students who are confused about their future or who already know what they want, scholars who are trying to adapt to their new role, etc. I believe their confusion, their understanding of themselves, and their experiences will help me know myself, my interest, and my role more profoundly.
Any particular professional area(s) or direction(s), i.e. digital humanities, library consortia initiatives, etc. that catches your interest and that you want to further explore?
I think I will be most interested in library consortia initiatives. The library budget is decreasing while the needs for many databases still exist. If we can work together on initiatives like the joint purchase of/subscription to expensive databases, I think it would be a great relief to many small East Asian Libraries and collections. But I know so little about how it would work. So I hope I can explore it further with other librarians.
Tell us some fun facts about you:
I’m a fan of thriller and crime movies and TV dramas, and I’m a fan of Japanese TV dramas too. I watch amines a lot as well. My favorite US TV drama is CSI: LV. My favorite anime is Natsume Yūjin-chō 夏目友人帳. Because I have too many favorite Japanese TV dramas, I cannot say which one is my favorite. I developed my skill of knitting when I was in Seattle in library school, but unfortunately, I never learned how to crochet.