My ALCTS Experience: Yu-Lan Chou

Between ALCTS and me, it is personal

I was a student helper at three different library cataloging units when I was in library school at Pitt. The historical world maps and atlases at the Darlington Library fascinated me with a totally unknown Asia orientation than what I was acquainted with. The East Asian Library shelves were my treasure to look for some banned books that I couldn’t read in my home town. One time when I was keying a retrospective conversion record for the Stephen Foster collection, I hit the grand prize: somebody afar at another institution “produced” the same record just a minute before me on OCLC, so the record I inputted became a “dupe” and needed to be reported for deletion. When I joined ALA as a student member, ALCTS became a natural fit.

My last semester at library school, all of our classmates went to ALA in Chicago to seek employment. I was fortunate to get an onsite interview opportunity afterwards. The academic library interview was tense, and I had a session filled with more than thirty people asking me questions. Many years later now, I don’t remember what those questions were, but I vividly recall that I felt so lucky that the ALCTS newsletters and articles I read enabled me to provide a candid answer of my view. I secured my first librarian job with ALCTS’ help! Yay!

Yu-Lan Chou standing in front of library bookshelvesNot far away from ALCTS

I worked at two Association of Research Libraries (ARL) libraries for a total of eleven years before I moved to a private company for library automation software. Though my focus was on the specialized East Asian libraries group, the AUTOCAT electronic mailing list was a great way to keep me updated on the latest developments in cataloging and authority issues. The enormous collective wisdom from the online community broadened my scope and knowledge.

For another ten years, I was first a library training consultant and then a manager of a data profiling team responsible for getting libraries onto a new ILS or splitting or merging with other library systems. Aside from frequent work travels, I put my limited effort into the state-level library association’s technical services group, trying to stay afloat in the midst of drastic changes to our profession. There were a lot of senior committee members such as Becky Culbertson of UCSD (2015 ALCTS Ulrich’s Serial Librarianship Award winner) who was always gracious enough to offer her expert opinions with a big smile. We frequently consulted the ALCTS Council of Regional Groups (CRG) Speakers’ Bureau Directory for planning statewide workshops.    

A reunion with ALCTS, after many years

In 2013 I came back to work at a public library to manage its technical services operation. The daily public library hustle and bustle really excites me a great deal. I started to attend ALA conferences and ALCTS online forums again. ALCTS programs and sessions are the best ones among those from which I have benefited. Learning from others of their best practices and success stories fueled me up with the magical rejuvenation for which I was longing.

When my former colleague Carey Hunt asked for volunteers to lead the ALCTS Public Libraries Technical Services Interest Group, I answered her request with no hesitation. When I attended the recent webinar of ALCTS Leadership Orientation, it helped me to understand from ALCTS’ leaders the current organizational structure and their views of the organization. After being an ALCTS member for twenty-six years, I have no excuse but to try my very best to give back in any way I can contribute. I look forward to working with my group for a good year filled with great ideas implemented in collaboration. I would also like to participate in other ALCTS activities to know more. Join me for the joyful ride!

Yu-Lan Chou is currently the Program Coordinator for Technical Services at the Santa Clara City Library, California. She earned her BA degree from the National Tsinghua University in Taiwan and MLS from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked at the Ohio State University Library and U. C. Berkeley East Asian Library before she joined Innovative Interfaces, Inc. as a Library Training Consultant. She later moved to become the Data Profiling Services Manager at the same company.