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NCC News: News

Specialist Spotlight: Yao Chen

by Paula Curtis on 2022-05-20T09:53:58-04:00 | 0 Comments

This year we are periodically shining a spotlight on the librarians and information specialists of NCC who are often behind the scenes working to support students, faculty, and staff. Whether you’re in the classroom to learn or teach or are conducting research near or far, these hardworking individuals make Japanese Studies possible.

This time we showcase Yao Chen, the East Asian Studies & Global Studies Librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Chen was a college educator in China before shifting gears and moving to the US to pursue librarianship. She landed her first academic librarian job at the University of Minnesota after receiving her MLIS degree in 2011. In her role as the East Asian Studies librarian in Minnesota, she supported not only the East Asian Studies field but also Linguistics and ESL. Her specialization in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean collections has been indispensable for her advocacy across the East Asian Studies field. In 2020, just as the pandemic struck, she moved west to join the UCSB community.

Chen has a robust research and advocacy record, publishing analytical reports on subject guides in North American libraries and analyses on data-driven collection management, as well as working closely with publishers to increase accessibility to electronic resources. She was also recently selected for the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage, which supports professional development and outreach in the development of multicultural collections through innovative curatorial practice and leadership.

Chen has also been actively sharing her expertise in broader communities outside of UCSB. In 2020, she shared how to find East Asian streaming videos, with a focus on Japanese streaming media, at a session on library resources for teaching and research organized by the Gender & Criticism Workshop in Southern California. She also joined a cohort of librarians to provide follow-up reference services to the session participants, ensuring that the knowledge imparted continues to have an impact. ​​

Chen’s most recent project is the launch of the East Asian Information Literacy Tutorial Series, a collection of short videos on YouTube that provides instruction on information literacy in the context of East Asian Studies. This could be subject headings in databases, news search strategies, locating sources for research papers, and more. These tutorials are an invaluable resource not only for students but also for faculty and aspiring researchers and information specialists who have East Asia-specific needs.


Phase I of the project includes 13 videos that are outcomes of collaboration with several other specialists, including Qian Liu (Arizona State University), Andrew Palahniuk (University of Minnesota), Matthew Hayes (Duke University), Lawrence Hamblin (Emory University), Linshan Jiang (UC Santa Barbara), Tomoko Bialock (UC Los Angeles), Jude Yang (Yale University), Martin Heijdra (Princeton University), Hyoungbae Lee (Princeton University), Jee-Young Park (University of Chicago), and Eric Buckenmeyer (Kennesaw State University). Chen welcomes feedback and invites your participation in Phase II to continue growing the series and helping strengthen ties in East Asian librarianship!

As a part of NCC, Chen has collaborated with our Librarian Professional Development Working Group, applying her skills in resource creation and networking to advance the field. We look forward to seeing what this and other projects will bring!

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