Librarian Yu-Lan Chou, Program Coordinator - Technical Services at Santa Clara City Library has 26 years of librarianship under her belt. The library delights in producing innovative and interactive programming that speaks to the wants and needs of her community. Keep reading to learn about her successful library programs, rewarding experiences providing library assistance and unique library rental program.
Q: How long have you worked as a librarian?
I have been working as a librarian since 1991. Previously I worked as an academic librarian with the Ohio State University and U.C. Berkeley. I also worked as a library consultant and for a library software company before I took my current position in 2013. It is a big difference and I really enjoy the crowd at the library!
Q: Do you have a unique program or service that has been successful in your community?
My Library just had a COMIC CON in September of 2016. Superheroes, Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, and many manga characters popped up. Vendors gave out free samples, model kits, and comic books. Children and adults were invited to make their own sunglasses, coasters, masks, and buttons using comic book pages. A panel discussion made of a Pixar artist, representatives from Lucas Films (Star Wars) and Women in Comics featured a talk about storyboarding from idea to film. The discussion was well received, there was standing-room only, and we received tons of positive feedback from the program.
Q: Do you have a new program, location or technology that you would like to share information about?
We started a STEM program in 2016, targeted for all ages and families. We had more than 10,000 people participate in a one-day event filled with demonstrations, hands-on sessions, discussions, and play-around. It was a huge success and the 2017 STEM program is scheduled on April 29 at the Central Park Library. Visit stemcentral.org for more information!
Q: What do you wish your patrons knew that your library offers?
Many people don’t know that Santa Clara City Library has a joint program with Silicon Valley Power and offers many tools for check-out. For example, the EMF meter (aka ghost detector) is an item that people can check out for their home improvement projects or ghost hunting tours. We also offer Fitbits for fitness and Hotspot devices for connecting to the internet. Usually, the loan period lasts at least a week.
Q: What is a major focus for your library right now?
The current focus of my library is to refine what we have and explore new ways to meet the wants of our patrons and community. In addition to collections and programs, a Mission Branch renovation plan is in progress and a new bookmobile will follow.
Q: Where do you see librarianship in 10 years?
People say a lot of jobs will be replaced by robots in the near future, including librarians. While a lot has been done to automate the behind the scene library operations, people are actually more supportive to tailored customer service and they value the attention they are given. The one-to-one conversation that takes place between a library staff and a patron is often the best human encounter of that patron’s day. Don’t underestimate our power and we can do much more to make a difference. The unique and trusted relationship that a public library holds with patrons is a treasure. People who finished school in their late 20’s and get busy with the jobs of their early 30’s will probably visit the library less frequently, but they will bring their kids into the library for story time programs when they have children. The cycle starts over. The more young people we see today in the library, the more we will see ten years from now.
Q: What’s your proudest moment as a librarian?
Librarians like to help and the impact we make is sometimes unimaginable. There have been many occasions over the years where I was privileged to be acknowledged. My proudest moment as a librarian is when I see others return to me with their success stories. I am thrilled to be a part of it. One time I was called to help with a patron’s reference question and he mailed a $50.00 donation check to the library afterwards, thanking me for my assistance. I don’t know him and couldn’t even recall what the question was. That was an interesting & memorable experience.
Q: What is your must follow piece of advice for running a successful library program?
Dive deeper with data – quantitative information such as program attendance doesn’t always tell the full story.
Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever gotten in your book drop?
A slice of bacon inside a book, maybe used as a bookmark, was found in the book drop but the book was not a cookbook. Other honorable mentions include a squid tentacle inside a cooking video box and a soggy diaper pack taped with a parenting book.
Q: Please finish this sentence: A library is…
where you can day dream and daydreams come true in/at/from a library.
Listen to a brief audio clip of Santa Clara residents expressing what their local library means to them.