October 26, 2023 – CARL’s Equity Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group has launched a series of monthly features to highlight and celebrate the outstanding work and contributions of Indigenous, Black and racialized library colleagues, those with disabilities, and those of marginalized or minority genders, sexual identities, religious and cultural groups.
This month we are featuring the work of Allan Cho:
Allan Cho is the Community Engagement Librarian at UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Allan’s role includes supporting ongoing community initiatives and leading new ones (focusing on community engagement with historically underrepresented groups), acting as subject liaison librarian for Library, Archives, and Information Studies (LAIS), and managing the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Scholars-in-Residence program with the support of the Peña Family Foundation. Allan has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies (MLIS), History (MA), and Education (MET) from UBC. An academic librarian for more than 15 years, Allan’s previous professional experience includes Research Commons Librarian and Digital Humanities liaison librarian. Allan’s research interests are EDI in libraries, Asian Canadian history, literature, and culture. Outside of work, he volunteers his time for several anti-racism and solidarity building community organizations. Allan is Co-Chair of the Visible Minority Librarians Network of Canada (ViMLoC) and the recipient of the 2021 Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) Recognition Award.
Allan is currently working on three research projects:
- “Retention of Racialized Academic Librarians in the U.S. and Canada” with Silvia Vong (Toronto Metropolitan University Libraries) and Elaina Norlin (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries). The purpose of this study is to identify organizational barriers that may impact the retention of racialized academic librarians in predominantly white institutions such as colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. The study focuses on structures in the library organization that may impact the experiences of racialized or BIPOC librarians.
- ViMLoC National Survey Redux. The Visible Minority Librarians of Canada (ViMLoC) Network conducted a comprehensive survey on visible minority librarians in 2013. As part of this current project, Allan and the research team (Maha Kumaran, Yanli Li, David Michael Miller, Valentina Ly, and Suzanne Fernando) conducted this survey again in 2021 to examine the changes in the library landscape regarding visible minority librarians in various librarian positions, including leadership. The project is currently analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data to identify visible minority librarians’ needs and propose projects to empower them in their current positions and their future career development, such as mentorship programming, leadership training, and networking opportunities.
- The Curious Case of the Asian Male Librarian. This project examines the professional and personal lives of an extremely small subset of librarians: those who self-identify as Asian and male. Using the counter-story as an approach to deconstructing the power dynamics of the intersectionality of gender, race, sexuality, and class, this project explores the stories, experiences, narratives, and truths of this precarious community of librarians that is often concealed within the dominant discourse’s majoritarian narratives.
In addition to being an academic librarian, Allan also dabbles in creative fiction and poetry. As the Executive Director of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW), he volunteers as Festival Director of the LiterASIAN Festival, the first Asian North American literary festival, and Editor of Ricepaper Magazine, one of the longest running BIPOC literary magazines in the publishing world.
If you are interested in being featured or nominating someone for this series, please submit your initiative using our online form (you can view the list of questions in advance here). Expressions of interest are encouraged on an ongoing basis. Research or work highlighted can be in any field, and does not need to focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, or other related areas.