Celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Libraries

In honor of the many Asian American and Pacific Islanders who serve in libraries across the world, the New York Public Library assembled a list of books which celebrate them. The below are the first 10 listed for adults, but there are several for teens and children as well.

  • All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung: DB, BR, BK

  • The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff: DB

  • Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America by Vivek Bald: BK

  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui: DB,

  • Bestiary by K-Ming Chang: DB, BK

  • Bright Lines by Tanaïs (née Tanwi Nandini Islam): DB, BK

  • Central Places by Delia Cai: BK

  • Chlorine by Jade Song: BK

  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong: DB, BK

  • The Dream Builders by Oindrila Mukherjee: BK

The first Asian American librarian in the United States was Rose Li. According to the New York Botanical Garden blog, she was “Born in China and raised in Taiwan… obtained her Masters in Library Science from the University of Michigan… Li took on a cataloging position at NYBG in 1967. By 1983, she became an Associate Librarian, becoming the first Asian librarian in charge of Mertz Library’s Technical Services department. Supervising and training staff who cataloged and created item bibliographic records… She used her knowledge of the Asiatic and French language to transcribe and create catalog records.” Her career as Mertz Library’s cataloger and librarian lasted 30 years and her work enabled more efficient use and browsing of library materials. She is one of many librarians from this ethnic group, and her successors have all made significan contributions to the library world as well. As librarians we are a diverse group and Asian American and Pacific Islanders are an important part of this.