Amy D. Seetoo
Michigan Initiative for Women's Health
The University of Michigan
President, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association
This year marks the 26th year since I took the first core course in Library Science at the University of Illinois. My interest in Library Science stemmed from my one-year experience as a research assistant in managing the collection in the study room of the Division in English as a Second Language. I believe I have benefited tremendously from my training in Library Science, which has offered me not only flexibility in career choice but also appreciation of life in this democratic society.
It may be strange to think that a degree in Library Science would offer job opportunities outside a building called "library". Apart from six years as an academic reference librarian, I have not been employed as a librarian. Nevertheless, I consider myself a librarian. When I was in the publishing industry, I trained staff and outside editors on Boolean logic and information retrieval via computer. I gave lectures and presentations on information management. When I worked for the Intellectual Property Office at the University of Michigan, I conducted researches on company information and new product information by using all the resources available in the library, traditional or electronic. While promoting the publication on women's health published by my current employer, I make sure that the campus libraries related to health and women's issues receive copies, because I know that the library is one of the important centers where information is collected, organized, and disseminated.
Furthermore, through my participation in Chinese American community activities, I came to the conclusion that Chinese American librarians are probably the single group of Chinese Americans that understand American culture better than the average Chinese American professionals. How did I reach this conclusion? First of all, at work, we handle every day the essence of American life, that is, the library materials. We have to make decisions regarding acquiring, cataloging, and retrieving such materials. In other words, we have immediate exposure to the essence of modern thinking. In addition, through our education in library schools, we have been indoctrinated in the concept of "freedom of information" and the duty to disseminate "diverse information", the two corner stones of democracy. Lastly, I have observed that our professional organization, the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), has been organized by our forward-looking founding fathers in such a way that it meets the standards of a well-functioned professional association, which affords "checks and balances" and "full membership participation".
With this understanding of ourselves, I urge all our members to participate in the Chinese American organizations in our communities and become an agent of change in introducing American democracy to our communities. Librarians can do more than just managing information.