Diversity Research Librarian Profile – Angel Tang

February 4, 2021

Angel Tang recently joined the UW-Madison Libraries as the Data, Science, and Engineering Diversity Resident Librarian!

Before taking this position in December 2020, Angel was the Archives Assistant at the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, where she digitized train photograph negatives and selected images to share through social media. As a recent graduate of UW-Madison’s iSchool, she is very familiar with campus and the Libraries. Angel says she has a life-long connection to libraries, so she was thrilled when the Diversity Resident Librarian position became available. Read on to learn more about Angel!

You recently assumed the role of Data, Science & Engineering Diversity Resident Librarian at the UW-Madison Libraries. What interests you most about this field of librarianship?

I’ve always been excited about science and scientific discovery and am especially excited to be in this role at a top research institution! I am looking forward to working with researchers and students and helping connect them to resources that will help further their work. The scientific community at UW-Madison is doing research that will positively impact the world, and I am thrilled to support them as a librarian.

How did your education or previous experience prepare you for this position?

As an undergraduate I majored in Physical Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology, in addition to Classics, focusing on the evolution of human beings. While I do not come from a “conventional” STEM background, I consider myself a science enthusiast! I have also had previous experience in reference, instruction, and cataloging from various jobs I held while pursuing my MLIS, and I am eager to employ these skills in serving the vibrant community of researchers at UW-Madison.

In your interview presentation, you spoke persuasively about libraries adopting new platforms such as TikTok. How do you envision the profession using social media now and in the future?

I think using social media to connect with patrons is a fun way to market library spaces and resources and allows libraries to meet users where they are. Having a dynamic social media presence can make the libraries (and librarians) seem less intimidating and help users better understand what they can offer. In the future, I imagine that library services can be integrated into social media platforms (i.e., reference through an Instagram direct message or short tutorials on TikTok), and users will feel comfortable connecting with librarians through a platform with which they are already familiar.

What do you believe are the main challenges facing libraries (and librarians) in the 21st century? Has the current pandemic had an impact on your career path?

Having to advocate for our roles to a public that may not fully understand our profession can be frustrating, especially when people say that librarians will be obsolete when everything has moved online. Some people I’ve spoken to are legitimately surprised that librarians also work in the digital realm because the stereotype of a librarian working solely with print books is so prevalent. Additionally, librarians have the challenge of continuously expanding their portfolio of services and skills, as technologies emerge and demands change. There is so much that I have learned in the first few weeks of this job that I wish I had learned during my MLIS, but I am really grateful that the residency is very focused on professional development.

It was scary to graduate in a pandemic and navigate a contracting job market, but I was so fortunate to have kept my internship at the Center for Railroad Photography and Art while I looked for another position through the summer and fall. The pandemic has not caused me to stray from my goals, but it has certainly impressed on me how vital librarians are to providing equitable information access and supporting education and research through turbulent times.

What drew you to the field of librarianship? Do you have a lifelong connection to libraries? If not, why did you pursue this as a profession?

I absolutely have a lifelong connection to libraries, and it seems so fitting for me to enter this profession that has shaped me into who I am today. When I first came to the United States in 2001, my mother often took me to the Bruggemeyer Library in Monterey Park where I developed a lifelong love of reading. I didn’t come to the US knowing a lot of English, so having access to all these fun books and activities to supplement what I was learning at school was incredibly helpful. As I was ending my college career, I realized that I did not want to pursue a graduate degree in Physical Anthropology as I was extremely grossed out by the gory parts of the human body! It then seemed like a natural choice to go into librarianship because I love working with people and advancing scholarship through providing access to resources and spaces.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know? Do you have any hobbies you would like to share?

Madison is the smallest city I’ve ever lived in! I grew up in the Los Angeles area and went to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, for my bachelor’s degree, so coming here was a bit of an adjustment. Thankfully, Madison has a number of Asian grocery stores and plenty of good Chinese food. I love to read, mostly thrillers and memoirs, and on the weekends I like to sit in my bean bag and spend hours with a good book. Cooking and baking are also hobbies of mine, although I do not claim to be an expert in either! Additionally, I am active with my sorority, Pi Beta Phi, and the Junior League of Madison.

What is your favorite book or film or dataset?

Right now I’m really into the manga series The Promised Neverland. It’s about a group of children who seem to be living a really idyllic life, but they find out that they are actually being raised as meat for demons. The series wrapped up in Japan this past October, and I am really eager for the rest of the series to be translated into English!