Meet Duan…Adult Services Librarian

I had the chance to chit-chat with Duan Li, the Adult Services Librarian at the International District/Chinatown Branch. Below is her interview..



What is your favorite word? 


What word do you wish you had made up? 


How did you become librarian of your branch? 

 I came to fill a temporary position in the Literacy, ESL, and World Languages Depart- ment at SPL in spring 2006. While I was in LEW, the IDC library had an opening for the adult services librarian position. I applied for the position and fortunately got accepted in June 2006.


An interesting thing was that prior to joining SPL, while I was subbing for the King County Library System, I read some news regarding the opening of the IDC library under the “Libraries for All Project” of SPL.


As a native Chinese speaker, with a background of the Chinese language and literature, I thought that maybe I’d have an opportunity to work for this library someday. But I really never expected that just one year after the library opened to the public, I became the only adult services librarian in the branch!

What is on your desk right now? (photo is ok too) 

 There is a folder holder that contains a dozen folders on my desk right now. These folders hold collection, reference, program, class, and all sorts of other information that is closely related to my work. I also have a Longman Contemporary English-Chinese Dictionary on my desk.

Tell us about your library. 

The IDC library serves patrons who live within the Chinatown/International District community and also serves those who live in other places located in the Greater Seattle Area.


Our Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese collections draw an immense amount of immigrants to visit the library to check out the items written in their native languages.


These immigrant patrons eagerly join the programs carefully designed for them and seek library services from staff who can speak their native languages. The library equally draws English speaking patrons to come and check out the items they are interested in.


Our new book and DVD shelves often draw the patrons’ attentions. Popular fiction and nonfiction, especially Asian themed nonfiction, always catches the patrons’ eyes! Also, our author reading programs are a big hit for them too. In the past, the library had many visitors from countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Canada.


The beautiful architecture, rich collections, and wonderful library services all the staff provides always gives the visitors amazing surprises, satisfaction, and enjoyment, just like what our patrons receive every time when visiting the library!

How long have you been at the branch? 

 Since June 2006.

What other posts do you hold in your community? 

 None at this time.

What is the biggest impact the capitol campaign has had on your branch? 

 The IDC library is the 16th project completed under the “Libraries for All “building program that voters approved in 1998. The first branch that opened in Seattle’s Chinatown/ International District holds up to 12,000 books and materials with an emphasis on materials in Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and English. The branch is inside the International District Village Square II and opened to the public on Saturday, June 11, 2005.

How does your relationship with the community affect your programming? 

 We work very closely with community agencies and institutions to provide all sorts of programs for our patrons. For example, we work with the Literacy Council of Seattle to host year long ESL classes.


Working with International Community Health Services (ICHS), we offer adult educational workshops that target immigrant patrons. With the Kinokuniya Bookstores, we present author reading events to patrons together.


Our fabulous youth services librarian Treasure Samuel works with the International District /Chinatown Community Center and Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) to host popular programs for both children and teens.


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