Negotiating the Public/Private in Racial and Gender Essentialist Advocacy at the San Francisco Chinatown Branch Public Library

Main Article Content

Sally Chen

Abstract

Public libraries are a wonder—they are institutions that invite you to linger at no expense. Often, they are built as if to anticipate your needs before they even register. Although not part of their job description, community branch librarians frequently take on the roles of local educators, resource advocates, and cultural navigators. The San Francisco Chinatown Branch librarians embodied this invisible history of labor, particularly through their advocacy to revitalize the physical space of the library in the 1970s-1990s. I deploy methods of close-reading with specific theoretical frameworks on community formation and culture to analyze the librarians’ work in the service of their public branch libraries. I analyze print material and local ephemera: coalition circulations, programming and exhibition flyers, pamphlets and surveys, and newspaper and magazine articles from the San Francisco Public Library archives. I argue that libraries are not only physical community centers, but critical centralized hubs of community knowledge and culture that librarians cultivate, that are vital to combatting and reshaping narratives of who and what Asians and Asian Americans are, against dominant forms ascribed by the nation-state.

Article Details

How to Cite
Chen, S. (2019). Negotiating the Public/Private in Racial and Gender Essentialist Advocacy at the San Francisco Chinatown Branch Public Library . Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research , 8, 33-60. Retrieved from https://ujslcbr.org/index.php/ujslcbr/article/view/13
Section
Research Articles