Chinese Canadian Librarians

How to Cite

Li, Y. (2023). Chinese Canadian Librarians: Leadership Roles and Career Barriers. International Journal of Librarianship, 8(2), 28–46.
Received 2022-12-28
Accepted 2023-04-20
Published 2023-06-22


Based on the data from the Visible Minority Librarians of Canada Network (ViMLoC) 2021 Survey, this research examined the leadership roles held by Chinese Canadian librarians and their perceptions of inclusivity of work climate, job satisfaction, and race as a career barrier. Their encounters with racial microaggressions and mentorship experience were also explored. Of the 38 respondents, 79% (n=30) were in non-management positions. 82% (n=31) felt very satisfied or satisfied with their jobs; however, their work climate was not found to be inclusive to all respondents. 87% (n=33) indicated that race was a barrier to their career. Fisher’s exact tests were run to compare the management group and non-management group. The results showed that those in management positions were less satisfied with their jobs and less likely to feel free to express their views openly. They experienced various forms of racial microaggressions. Nearly half of the respondents sought mentoring support and two-thirds of them found mentorship extremely helpful or very helpful. To increase representation in librarianship, library school students and first-generation immigrants of Chinese descent need to be inspired to enter librarianship and reach higher professional goals. Chinese librarians would benefit from leadership programs tailored to minority librarians in Canada.


Alabi, J. (2015). Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey of minority and non-minority librarians. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(1), 47–53.

Alabi, J. (2018). From hostile to inclusive: Strategies for improving the racial climate of academic libraries. Library Trends, 67(1), 131-146.

Alwan, A., Doan, J., & Garcia, E. (2018). Microaggressions as a barrier to effective collaboration between teaching faculty and academic librarians: An analysis of the results of a U.S. and Canadian Survey. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 2(3), 26–58.

American Librarian Association (ALA). (n.d.). Spectrum scholarship program.

Association of Research Libraries. (n.d.). Leadership and career development program.

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL). (2016, December 16). 2016 census of Canadian academic librarians user guide and results summary.

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL). (2019, March 25). 2018 census of Canadian academic librarians user guide and results summary.

CCDI Consulting. (2022, May). Diversity census and inclusion survey insights report. Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA). (n.d.). Awards, grants, and scholarships.

Cho, A. (2014). Diversity pathways in librarianship: Some challenges faced and lessons learned as a Canadian-born Chinese male librarian. In D. Lee & M. Kumaran (Eds.), Aboriginal and visible minority librarians: Oral histories from Canada (pp. 89-102). Scarecrow.

Dalton, S. D., Mathapo, G., & Sowers-Paige, E. (2018). Diversity dialogues: Navigating law librarianship while black: week in the life of female law librarian. Law Library Journal, 110(3), 429-[iii].

Damasco, I. T., & Hodges, D. (2012). Tenure and promotion experiences of academic librarians of color. College & Research Libraries, 73(3), 279–301.

DeLong, K., Sorensen, M., & Williamson, V. (2015, May). 8Rs redux CARL libraries human resources study.

Government of Canada. (2021, January 1). Employment equity act.

Ibraheem, A. I., & Devine, C. (2013). A survey of the experiences of African librarians in American academic libraries. College & Research Libraries, 74(3), 288-306.

Ingles, E., DeLong, K., Humphrey, C., & Sivak, A. (2005). The future of human resources in Canadian libraries.

Kandiuk, M. (2014). Promoting racial and ethnic diversity among Canadian academic librarians. College & Research Libraries, 75(4), 492–556.

Kim, H.Y. (2017). Statistical notes for clinical researchers: Chi-squared test and Fisher’s exact test. Restorative Dentistry & Endodontics, 42(2), 152–155.

Kumaran, M. (2012). Leadership in libraries: A focus on ethnic-minority librarians. Chandos Publishing.

Kumaran, M. (2015). Succession planning process that includes visible minority librarians. Library Management, 36(6/7), 434-447.

Kumaran, M., & Cai, H. (2015). Identifying the visible minority librarians in Canada: A national survey. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 10(2), 108-126.

Li, L. (2014). From China to Canada: Experiences of a college librarian in the Canadian prairies. In D. Lee & M. Kumaran (Eds.), Aboriginal and visible minority librarians: Oral histories from Canada (pp. 49-56). Scarecrow.

Li, Y., Kumaran, M., Cho, A., Ly, V., Fernando, S., & Miller, M. D. (2021). 2021 redux survey of visible minority librarians of Canada. Borealis.

Li, Y., Kumaran, M., Cho, A., Ly, V., Fernando, S., & Miller, M. D. (2022). Changes in the library landscape regarding visible minority librarians in Canada. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 17(4), 36-70.

Liu, M. (2000). The history and status of Chinese Americans in librarianship. Library Trends, 49(1), 109-137.

Lou, N. M., Noels, K. A., Kurl, S., Zhang, Y. S. D., & Young-Leslie, H. (2022). Chinese Canadians’ experiences of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism: Implications for identity, negative emotion, and anti-racism incident reporting. Canadian Psychology / Psychologie Canadienne, 63(3), 279–297.

Prieto-Gutiérrez, J. J., & Colmenero-Ruiz, M. J. (2023). Microaggressions in academic spaces: What about the library? The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 49(2).

Ruan, L., & Liu, W. (2017). The role of Chinese American librarians in library and information science diversity. International Journal of Librarianship, 2(2), 18-36.

Ruan, L., & Xiong, J. A. (2008). Career choices and advancement: Chinese American librarians in the 21st century. Chinese Librarianship, 29.

Stanley, T. J. (2011). Contesting white supremacy: School segregation, anti-racism, and the making of Chinese Canadians. UBC Press.

Statistics Canada. (2018, March 28). Occupation - National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016 (691), employment income statistics (3), highest certificate, diploma or degree (7), visible minority (15), work activity during the reference year (4), age (4d) and sex (3) for the population aged 15 years and over who worked in 2015 and reported employment income in 2015, in private households of Canada, provinces and territories and census metropolitan areas, 2016 census - 25% sample data.

Statistics Canada. (2021, September 30). Classification of generation status.

Swanson, J., Tanaka, A., & Gonzalez-Smith, I. (2018). Lived experience of academic librarians of color. College & Research Libraries, 79(7), 876-894.

Tan, W. (2004). Chinese American librarianship: Status quo and future.

Winn, Dee. (2022). Why are you brown? Racial microaggressions in Canadian academic libraries. In T. Y. Neely & M. Montañez (Eds.), Dismantling constructs of whiteness in higher education: Narratives of resistance from the academy (pp.79-90). Routledge.

Yang, Z.Y. (1996). Chinese American librarians job survey. Journal of Educational Media & Library Sciences, 34(2), 111-123.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 International Journal of Librarianship


Download data is not yet available.