March 20, 2018

Wai Sze (Lacey) Chan | Movers & Shakers 2004


Better Service Through Data Numbers


The New Americans Program at Queens Borough Public Library (QBPL) is well known for the innovative collections and programs it provides to one of the nation’s most diverse communities. What is less known is the rigorous analysis of demographic data that provides direction to the program. Wai Sze (Lacey) Chan uses demographics to create as complete a portrait of the library’s current and potential customers as possible.

Chan became expert in the geographic information software MapInfo through a continuing education course. Working with a base map of Queens, matched to library services areas, she creates thematic maps dedicated to topics such as the ability to speak English, subway lines, and migration trends, among others. The visually appealing and easy-to-read maps are brought down to the neighborhood level, so the library can know its customers. Many of them are available on the library’s web site.

Chan has written many demographic reports (on language and ethnic profiles, migration patterns to Queens, and births to foreign-born mothers), all of which are available online. They are as useful to city planners as they are to the business community. They are also instrumental in grant applications for Toddler Learning Centers in Spanish, Chinese, and Bengali, as well as planning collections and parenting programs.

Other influential publications by Chan include Queens Borough Public Library Service Areas: A Language and Ethnic Profile Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, published last year. It presents U.S. 2000 Census data related to language spoken at home, ability to speak English, ethnic and racial identification, and foreign-born population. The library’s Directory of Immigrant-Serving Agencies, an online publication, includes over 200 agencies that provide free or low-cost social services.

Since so much of Chan’s job is web-related, she works with the library’s information technology department to improve the interface. Chan enjoys data and the impact she has on library service, but she still appreciates ‘traditional’ library work and in her spare time develops branch collections in both Mandarin and Cantonese.




Current Position: Information & Data Analysis Librarian, Queens Borough Public Library, Jamaica, NY
Degree: MLS, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1997
Previously : Was a radio news anchor and reporter in Hong Kong