President's Report


Chinese American Librarians Association


Esther Lee


Happy New Year!  Thanks to your support, I have been the President of C ALA for half a year already.  My theme for the year is the Celebration of CALA’s 40th Anniversary via Diversity Advocacy, Committee Collaboration, Global Outreach Activities and Leadership Promotion.


I started the year with writing up the success of our CALA/ALA program and Awards Banquet in Anaheim last June, and an account with pictures was posted on our CALA website since July 2012 ( The theme for that program was Diverse Voices, Enriching Communities.  Four distinguished speakers gave excellent speeches and the Awards Banquet following was wonderful.

The second national Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, held in Kansas City in September 2012, was co-sponsored by CALA and four other ethnic caucuses.  It attracted 841 people and passed with flying colors. Two CALA members were in its Steering Committee, many CALA members, including me, made presentations, three CALA members won Awards, and more details and pictures also can be found on our CALA web.


With many volunteers from our talented group, I have made a long list of appointments to 22 Committees and two Taskforces, as posted on our CALA web in August 2012.  Members have been hard at work to plan and achieve their goals for the year, as evidenced in their Interim Reports.  For example, the Guidelines for the new Outstanding Library Leadership Award in Memory of Dr. Margaret Chang Fung Ad-Hoc Committee was approved online last November and the call for nominations for the Award has been announced.

The budget proposal from the President is up for approval at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. We hope to be able to raise more funds this year so that we can have a special celebration for our 40th Anniversary, perhaps in subsidizing an Architectural Cruise on the Michigan River of Chicago for members and in providing gifts or souvenirs at the Awards Banquet.

The 2011/2012 Membership Directory completed recently showed a new artistic style and an increase in the number of members, which is heartening. We plan to continue this rising trend.




CALA reaches out not only to local and national library organizations, but also to international library associations.  As mentioned in the December Newsletter, certain CALA members recently participated in the Seminar in Yunnam, the IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress at Helsinki, and the Capital Normal University Conference in Beijing. More information on other outreach effort is given below, as collaborated by Sally Tseng, Haipeng Li, and myself:


A CALA/USA delegation of 10 people was led by Sally Tseng, Haipeng Li, and Esther Lee to participate in the 2012 China Library Annual Conference and Exhibition in Dongguan, China, 11/21/12 (Wednesday) - 11/24/12 (Saturday).  Hosted by the China Ministry of Culture, the Library Society of China, the Dongguan Library, and the government of Dongguan and other local government agencies, the Conference was a big success and attended by over two thousand librarians from China, Singapore and other countries.  The theme of the Conference was Cultures Strengthened Country: Responsibilities and Missions of Libraries

The Opening Ceremony, presided by Director Qun Yu, the head of the Public Cultures, China Ministry of Culture, was held in a very large theatre.  Many of the dignitaries, with reserved seats, were individually escorted to the stage to give short speeches or to give awards to different librarians from various types of libraries throughout the country.  Molly Raphael, ALA immediate Past President, was invited to give greetings to the large audience. 

The Closing Ceremony was also held in the same theatre, and the chief speaker was a famous Chinese author, Meng Wang, who is the former head of the Ministry of Cultures.

In between the Ceremonies were 27 sessions of programming in separate rooms at the Dongguan International Exhibition Hotel, where most people stayed.  The 5th session was presented by the CALA/USA Delegation under the theme of Building and Sharing:  American Libraries’ Contributions to Communities.  The overflowing crowd packed the room intended for less than 200 people.  They appreciated the speeches given by the following CALA/ALA members:

  1. Mary ("Molly") Elizabeth Raphael, ALA President, 2011/2012 and Keynote  

Speaker - Libraries Thriving in the 21st Century.


  1. Esther Yee-Wah Lee, CALA President and Librarian, Queens Library, New York - Mission and Strategic Directions of the Chinese American Librarians Association.


  1. Haipeng Li, University Librarian, Hong Kong Baptist University and CALA Executive Director – Positioning Our Libraries for the Future.


  1. Michael Douglas Cooper, President, BUSCA, Inc. – Supplying Current and Future Collections’ Materials.
  2. Michael Dowling, Director, International Relations and Chapter  Relations Office, American Library Association - Libraries as Solution Providers: Workforce Development and Financial Literacy.


  1. Carol Kachuen Gee, CALA Incoming Vice-President and Head of Technical  

Services, Lehman College Library – City University of New York and Shanghai Academic Librarians’ Exchange Program.


  1. Clement Chu-Sing Lau, Associate Director fpr Technical Services and Administration, University of Baltimore, School of Law Library - American Library Law.


  1. Cecilia Siu-Wah Poon, CALA Board of Director – Mentoring: Nurturing Tomorrow's Library Leaders.


  1. Sally Cheng Tseng, CALA Honorary Executive Director and former Librarian,      

University of California, Irvine Libraries – RDA: Resource Description and Access - A New Cataloging Standard with NO Boundary and NO Limits.


From the active questions and answers period, the audience showed their deep interest in library developments in America.

The Exhibition of books, technology and other products, the first of its kind for a Chinese library conference, covered a lot of grounds.  Among the many vendor booths was one for the American Library Association, beautifully decorated with large posters, ALA and CALA brochures and flyers.  Michael Dowling and other librarians took turns to greet visitors and give out information.  Books and other materials at the Exhibit were bought by some CALA members.

The visit to the Dongguan Library on the next day was eye-opening.  It was a large and beautiful building in the new and modern part of town.  Part of the library was open for circulation 24 hours a day.  The RFID technology is in place and there is no lack of materials and computers for public use. No wonder that in 2008, that library won the ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects.  Its Director, Donglai Li, showed us true hospitality, and assigned lovely Tracey Qiu to take care of our well being (hotel, cultural tours, transportations and directions, etc.).  As a token of appreciation, we presented a plaque to the Director and chocolates to his staff.


The Delegation (except Haipeng and Molly) was later joined by Margaret Todd and Wenwen Zhang in attending the Library Conference in Guangzhou, China, held on November 25-27, 2012.  The theme was Library Management and Service. The Conference was sponsored by the Library Society of China, and organized by the Guangzhou Library and the Guangzhou Library Society. As CALA President, Esther Lee was among the four leaders invited to give brief opening remarks.  Following, the librarians below made presentations of approximately an-hour-and-a-half each, and the response with clappings following each talk was loud and clear:

  1. Maria Fung, World Language Materials Specialist, Brooklyn Public Library and CALA Treasurer- The Brooklyn Public Library of New York.  Since Maria had a family emergency and was unable to attend, her speech and PowerPoint was delivered by Carol Tchen, a former librarian from the Queens Library. 
  2. Margaret Donnellan Todd, County Librarian of the Los Angeles County Library – Community Based Services in the Los Angeles County Library System.  Her translator was Wenwen Zhang, Library Manger of the West Corvina Library in Los Angeles and a CALA Committee Member.
  3. Sally Cheng Tseng, CALA Co-Liaison to the Library Society of China – American Public Libraries and New Technologies: Innovative Services
  4. Michael Dowling, Director of the International Relations and Chapter Relations Office, ALA – American Library Association: Connecting Librarians and Libraries throughout the World.  His translator was Sally Cheng Tseng.
  5. Tay Ai Cheng, Director of the Singapore Library – The Singapore Library at the Heart of the City and the Community.  Her translator was Kathrina Lee, a librarian from Singapore Library.

The Conference was held in the old Guangzhou Library, directed by Jiazhong Fang.  He too showed us great hospitality. For example, when it rained, his people will be up with many umbrellas sheltering us from getting wet. Yue Wu, the International Cooperation Officer from the Library Society of China, also attended to our well-being and ensured that our bus rides from place to place was on schedule. 

Director Fang gave us a guided tour of the new Guangzhou Library, in the new City Center.  That Library was another eye-opening wonder.  It was magnificent, huge, lovely, and 11 floors high.  Three floors will be devoted to the Children’s Library.  It will soon to be open to the public in June 2013.

On the next day we visited another large and lovely Library, the Guangdong Provincial Sun Yat-sen Library, directed by Honghui Liu.  That was another impressive building with good looking interiors.  After getting to know us and sharing information regarding his library with us, Director Liu gave each one of us a bag of souvenirs, with some unique rare publications. 


Our journey continued on to Hong Kong, where Haipeng Li, University Librarian of the Hong Kong Baptist University, welcomed us to a guided tour of the Library, a Colloquial with his staff members, and on the next day, a Seminar given by Sally Tseng on Resources Description and Access, attended by many librarians and library school students. Following was a tour to the unique Library on Chinese Medicine, whose digital databases on Chinese herbal medicine enabled Haipeng to receive for his Library the ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects.


The entire outreach journey was enjoyable, informative, and educational. The warm hospitality and fast progress of China, with many modern tall buildings, were unforgettable.  We were ever so thankful to the sumptuous lunches and dinners invited by the China Ministry of Culture, the National Library of China, the Guangzhou Library, the Guangdong Provincial Sun Yat-sen/Zhongzhan Library, the Hong Kong Baptist University Library and others.  We want to extend our special thanks for their informative programs, tours, gifts and heartfelt hospitalities. 

In reciprocating our visit, the Library Society of China (headed by Xiangdong Yan, Secretary General) would like to send a Delegation to visit New York’s Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library before attending the Annual Conference of the American Library Association in Chicago, June 2013.  There will be a program presented by this Delegation held during ALA in Chicago.  This program is co-sponsored by the American Library Association’s International Relations Office and the International Relations Committee’s East Asia & Pacific Committee, the Library Society of China, and CALA.  After the Conference, the Delegation will visit the Chicago Public Library and Vancouver Libraries in British Columbia.   Michael Dowling, Haipeng Li, Sally Tseng and I are working on the planning and arrangements with Ruijuan Huo (Deputy Secretary General of LSC) and Yue Wu, with the assistance of Maria Fung (BPL), Frank Xu (BPL), Fred Gitner (QL) and other CALA NE Chapter’s key officers. 


How wonderful it is that we have developed opportunities for international library cooperation and cultural exchanges! In networking and committee work, we have made new friends, strengthened old friendships, widened our horizons, increased CALA’s visibility, and promoted our leadership. What joy!


Esther Lee, CALA President