Yao Chen

Yao Chen joined the UCSB Library in January 2020 and serves as the East Asian Studies & Global Studies Librarian. She has already accomplished a lot in the role despite the COVID-19 pandemic and abrupt shift to remote learning that happened shortly after she came on board.

In the last year alone, Yao: 

  • was selected to the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage 2021-23 cohort to advance multicultural collections through innovative curatorial practice and leadership

  • received a research grant from the Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC) for her proposal entitled “Information Literacy in East Asian Studies: Bridging the Gap and Creating a Framework Companion”

  • co-authored an article published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, “Demystifying East Asian language monograph publishing

  • spearheaded an initiative with Columbia University’s Chinese Studies Librarian Chengzhi Wang to provide temporary free access to over 160 electronic databases to help Chinese scholars locate valuable and relevant resources for their work, easing the difficulty of remote research   

Yao previously served as the East Asian Studies, Linguistics, and ESL Librarian at the University of Minnesota. In that role, she had the opportunity to work with other University of California East Asian Studies librarians. The close collaboration she saw between them attracted her to UCSB. 

Yao has worked in higher education for decades, having taught full- and part-time in China for some years. There, she was inspired to become a librarian as she became acutely aware of the need to teach students critical thinking skills. 

“What a student needs the most is not just to gain knowledge, but also the ability to search information more efficiently, to analyze it, and use the information to make more informed decisions,” she said.

It wasn’t until she got her MLIS from the University of Oklahoma that she realized East Asian librarianship was a specialty within the profession. 

“My background and training give me advantages in this field,” she said. “I want to serve as a bridge between the West and the East.” 

In her time as a librarian, Yao has written and presented extensively on e-publishing and discrepancies in access to electronic materials across disciplines. At UCSB, Yao plans to continue pushing publishers and vendors to distribute more, and better quality, East Asian e-books. 

Yao has also been an advocate dedicated to increasing library access for international students, faculty-librarian collaboration, and creating cross-discipline ties. Yao is excited to take full advantage of the network of UC librarians to advance her field. 

Her immediate goals at UCSB are to take stock of the East Asian collection, continue building upon the strong Taiwan collection hosted here, and support the research needs of UCSB’s scholars and students from diverse disciplines.