Northeast Chapter APALA Librarians Visit PUL

Photos from the APALA visit to PUL. From left, Amy Vo in Special Collections, Willow Dressel, Joshua Seufert, and Ufuoma Abiola

From left - Amy C. Vo shows Special Collections items to an APALA visitor, Willow Dressel addresses APALA in the PUL Makerspace, Joshua Seufert takes APALA members on a tour of East Asian Library, and Ufuoma Abiola welcome the APALA congregation to PUL. Photo credit: Natalie Lau.

On Friday, October 20, 2023, Princeton University Library (PUL) hosted a field trip from the Northeast Chapter of the Asian / Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA). Seventeen librarians from eight different institutions came from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The chapter, led by Janet Clarke from Stony Brook University and Miriam Tuliao from Penguin Random House, embarked on the field trip inspired by a similar excursion to Beinecke Library at Yale University in July this past summer.

Hosted by Natalie Lau, Library Collections Specialist IV, Anu Vedantham, Assistant University Librarian for Research Services, Teaching, and Social Sciences, and Amy C. Vo, Processing Archivist, the field trip had a packed itinerary with events at Firestone Library, East Asian Library, and Lewis Library. 

After meeting the guests in the Firestone lobby, Ufuoma Abiola, Executive Head and Associate University Librarian for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), greeted the group with welcome remarks and a brief presentation on DEI work being done at PUL.

The Special Collections showcase, organized by Setsuko Noguchi, Japanese Studies Librarian, Joshua Seufert, Chinese Studies Librarian, and Vo, was the next portion of the day. They selected Asian and Asian American archival materials and rare books, such as photographic prints of the New Americans project from the Ulli Steltzer Papers, political cartoons from the publication, 漫画 (Man hua), from mid-20th century China, and a couple Japanese board games from the early and mid-20th century (e.g. 大東亞共榮圈めぐリ (Dai Toa Kyoeiken Meguri)), among many other items. Martin Heijdra, Director of the East Asian Library, also helped plan and select Southeast and South Asian rare book materials for the showcase, but he was unable to join due to travel commitments. 

“The group was warm and welcoming,” said Amy Lau, an archivist at New York Public Library. “As a mixed-race (half-Cantonese American, half-European American), queer archivist who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was heartened to see that in Princeton's General Manuscripts Miscellaneous Collection, there are picture postcards of an interracial couple (Wong Sue Yue Clemens and Ella May Wong Sue Yue Clemens) running a curio shop in San Francisco's Chinatown dating from 1906 to 1910. Since California had an anti-miscegenation law during that time, those postcards are an important part of the historical narrative of interracial marriage in California.”

A collection of recent published works by AANHPI authors was selected by Natalie Lau for display in the library classroom in which the group breaked for lunch. Several other PUL librarians joined the visiting group for lunch along with a bingo icebreaker designed by Lau. 

The day continued with a walking tour of the East Asian Library (EAL) led by Joshua Seufert, describing the history of the EAL, the building and its spaces, and the collections, including a small showcase of ephemera from a contemporary Chinese COVID-19 political propaganda poster collection. The group ended with a tour of the Engineering and Lewis Library collections with Willow Dressel, as well as button and jewelry making activities in the Makerspace. 

Amy Lau added, “As a new member of the Northeast Chapter of APALA, I loved having the opportunity to meet other AANHPI librarians, archivists, and information professionals at the Princeton University Library site visit.” 

The APALA Northeast Chapter is planning their next field trip to Boston in 2024.

Published on December 13, 2023

Written by Amy C. Vo, Processing Archivist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications