February 17, 2018

Clara Chu | Movers & Shakers 2005

See Us As We Are


“What can I, as a multilingual Peruvian-born Chinese Canadian and U.S. resident, offer to library and information research?” asks Clara Chu, associate professor in the University of California at Los Angeles’s (UCLA) Department of Information Studies. The answer: “I can challenge those who look at people through a single ethnic or racial lens.”

Having helped her relatives navigate bureaucracies in their new country and language, she learned at age ten that accurate information is vital for a cultural minority’s survival and success. Now Chu asks her students to understand the full meaning of their ethical duty to serve all members of their community.

A course she introduced on “Ethics, Diversity, and Change in the Information Professions” includes service-learning opportunities with underserved communities. This helps students understand the importance of community collaboration and outreach. Virginia Walter, associate professor of information studies at UCLA, calls Chu “the catalyst for the UCLA Information Studies Department’s emphasis on cultural diversity and social justice.”

But Chu’s influence extends far beyond her campus. She works with many organizations to advance multiculturalism in librarianship. As a prolific researcher, writer, and speaker, Chu has given librarians an understanding of barriers to information access such as literacy, racial politics, and media misrepresentations of cultural minorities. Her research has also filled in gaping holes in the historical understanding of Asians in the Americas, their demography, and how they “preserve their culture and meet their ethnic information needs.”

Chu is uncomfortable talking about personal achievements, though. “I measure success in whether students learn how they can contribute to enacting social change, that they can make a difference.”



Current Position Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

Degree Ph.D., Library and Information Science, University of Western Ontario, 1992

Honors American Library Association Equality Award, 2002

Best Holiday At age ten she celebrated Christmas in both Mexico and Canada