By Holly Boyer
When did APALA start?
The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) was founded in 1980 and became formally affiliated with the American Library Association in 1982. This year to celebrate APALA’s 35th Anniversary, we are planning our 1st APALA Symposium, Building Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Librarianship & Advocacy, and several other APA focused programs and events to celebrate this milestone throughout the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, June 25-30, 2015.
What are the mission and goals of the organization?
APALA’s mission is to promote and support the needs of Asian/Pacific American (APA) librarians and those who serve APA communities. Our goal is to advance the leadership role of our members by providing continuous learning and professional development opportunities that will prepare and empower APALA members to grow and lead library services that will shape our diverse 21st century society.
What are some programs/events available to new members or professionals?
APALA is invested in providing positive educational and professional development opportunities to any new members and professionals. Currently, we have two programs available: the APALA Mentoring Program and the APALA Emerging Leaders Sponsorship (includes a $1,000 stipend). However, APALA also provides different programs and events at both ALA Conferences: Midwinter and Annual. New members can always join and become more involved with APALA by serving on any of our standing committees. APALA also provides networking opportunities via unique and interesting local tours and social gatherings for all members and those who just want to join us.
What plans does APALA have for the future?
One of APALA’s aspirations has been to increase our visibility and recognition within the ALA community, specifically when it comes to issues related to APA communities and librarians. APALA has been working in cultivating leaders from within who value and practice coalition building to benefit the APA community at large. An example of this effort is a successful partnership with the American Indian Library Association (AILA), “Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture.” Most recently, several APALA members have been collaborating with other organizations and ethnic caucuses in the planning of several programs and events to mark our 35th Anniversary at the ALA Annual Conference:
- APALA President’s Program: Global Roots, Local Identities: Asian International Adoption and Advocacy (Co-sponsored by APALA & VRT)
- Connecting Communities: Documenting and Sharing Asian American Heritage (Co-sponsored by APALA and RUSA)
- Librarians of Color: The Challenges of "Movin' On Up" (Part II) (Sponsored by EMIERT in collaboration with APALA, BCALA, LGBTQ, and REFORMA)
- Create Possibilities for Refugee, Immigrants, and Low Income Students (Co-sponsored by APALA & AFL)
- Partnership Beyond CALA: Training Leaders of Color for Action (Sponsored by CALA in collaboration with ALA, AILA, APALA, BCALA, and REFORMA)
What are the some of the challenges APALA is facing and how do you plan to meet them?
One of the challenges that APALA faces is the growing pain of a small yet vibrant organization. As an organization that is expanding, it is hard to find the right balance of recruiting new members and providing enough professional development opportunities that will help build a successful leadership pipeline. This year, in particular, we had to outreach to all of our members to better position APALA for the future:
- To address the lack of experienced members to chair committees and to revitalize the work of some committees, we asked past chairs to step in and mentor new members by serving as co-chairs
- To develop a successful pipeline of leaders, APALA started working on a major overhaul of the operational handbook. This handbook will provide guidance and effectively communicate the values and expectations on how things are done in APALA
- To facilitate with leadership transition and to provide professional development opportunities, APALA is working in the implementation of an orientation training for new executive board members during ALA annual conference
What do you think are some of the challenges new librarians encounter? Do you have any recommendations for how to deal with them?
I think that one of the main roadblocks that new librarians face when entering the field is learning the ropes and the culture of their libraries and finding leadership opportunities. One way of overcoming this is by networking and finding the right people who could serve you as a great resource. Relationships are the catalyst for success. People do business with those they like and trust! So, don’t forget to network, network, and network!
What do you see APALA doing 5 years from now?
Personally, I would love to see APALA continue its strong advocacy in building coalitions with other ethnic caucuses and library organizations that stand up for equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries and to the communities we serve. It would also be wonderful to see more APA librarians developing library programs and services that could help our nation in building stronger communities through equal access for all to information, knowledge, culture and language, and learning resources.
For more information about APALA, visit their website at http://www.apalaweb.org/.