Wenli Gao, data services librarian at University of Houston Libraries and 2021 – 2022 president of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), is the co-lead on a project titled Path to Leadership: National Forum on Advancing Asian/Pacific Islander American Librarianship, which was awarded a grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Gao and colleagues Ray Pun, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) president, CALA executive director Lian Ruan, and APALA executive director Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, submitted the application on behalf of their organizations. The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program National Forum grant in the amount of $100,000 will provide the opportunity for 50 library and information science students and professionals to build strategies to develop Asian American and Pacific Islander American (APIA) library leaders and solutions for the barriers that they experience.
The Path to Leadership National Forum will take place in conjunction with LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience (LLX) in San Antonio, Texas in January 2022. Participants of the forum will discuss the current representation of APIA workers in the library field; identify specific leadership traits of APIA librarians; explore barriers to leading; and generate ideas which will be captured in a white paper that will lay the groundwork for the development of an APIA-specific leadership development curriculum.
Following participation, attendees will continue to build on the Forum work through a series of virtual monthly meetings, followed by a final gathering at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference 2022, both also supported with IMLS funding. In addition, webinars sharing the findings of the forum and the white paper will be offered throughout the year following the grant period.
The significance of the forum, Gao noted, is its focus on giving historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups tools to combat structural racism and discrimination. By convening to capture the voices and perspectives of APIA library workers in leadership and management roles, and those striving to be leaders, the Path to Leadership National Forum aims to shape the conversation of library leadership by sharing the experiences of APIA library workers and increasing APIA presence in library leadership positions.
“I am excited to have this grant that aligns with CALA’s plan and build this strategic collaboration with APALA during my CALA presidency,” Gao said. “Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion are critical components of University of Houston Libraries’ mission and organizational development. I am happy to get involved in this grant to support our goals as well.”