Yoriko Dixon (she/her/hers) has been the Japanese Studies Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since May 2016.
How did your journey in working with East Asian libraries and collections begin?
I started at Duke Perkins Library in the acquisition department for ordering Japanese and, later, Korean materials for 13 years. Since I didn’t have any knowledge of the Korean language, I had to take courses. It was hard to learn a new language when you were 50ish.
I didn’t have an MLS degree back then either, but many of my colleagues encouraged me to get that degree. I was doubtful of finding a job that would be close to 60 by the time I got the degree and being new as a professional-level librarian. Thanks to Dr. Kris Troost, who was the IAS head and Japanese librarian at Duke at the time, she allowed me to take on some of her responsibilities, such as selecting items from vendor lists, involving me in meetings with visiting vendors, and introducing me to faculty and students. These experiences provided me with valuable insights into the skills and knowledge required to be a subject librarian.
At UW-Madison, we had a wonderful catalog department head and an original cataloging section head who were both very patient and helpful. Then within that year, our IAS Unit was formed. This was also wonderful for a new subject librarian to have supportive colleagues who guided me on how to perform various duties.
What do you enjoy most about your career in East Asian librarianship?
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. I enjoy helping students and faculty with my skill and cultural knowledge. When I see a professor is happy with my selection of purchase and the material is used in the class or brings students to the library to see them physically makes me very happy.
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 change(s) and trend(s) in East Asian librarianship had you witnessed and envisioned?
Since COVID, I see many Japanese publishers have started to pay more attention to producing e-books, and it has become easier to purchase through big vendor’s platforms. Some e-book prices are the same as physical books. I think this is very good since almost every library is facing shelf space shortages.
I still believe that physical books never die; electronic resources will be here to stay and grow more to provide our patrons convenience.
Tell us some fun facts about you:
Borzoi (breed of dogs) showing and occasional breeding.