April 23, 2018

Patty Wong | Movers & Shakers 2007

2007_Patty_WongBridge Builder


California State Library’s (CSL) library programs consultant Kathy Low says Patty Wong has a talent for ‘building bridges between organizations and individuals.’ That natural talent has been polished by her years in libraries in the multiethnic Bay Area.

Wong, who grew up in diverse San Francisco, knows from personal experience that a librarian who warmly welcomes you can change your life, and she has always aimed to extend that welcome to every member of the community she serves.

As a children’s librarian at the Elmhurst branch in predominantly African American East Oakland, Wong ‘called the kids to invite them personally to programs, held celebrations for kids doing well in school, offered individualized tutoring for youth who needed assistance, and provided TLC to families who needed additional attention,’ she says. A reporter asked kids in East Oakland, ‘Who made a difference in your life?’ and the name on virtually all lists was ‘Patty,’ because ‘she cares about us, she knows our names, she makes us feel good about ourselves.’ (The reporter couldn’t believe Wong was the Patty in question, because ‘you’re not black.’)

As program director of Partnerships for Change at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, Wong developed a series of imaginative, fun programs to help the African American community and newly arrived Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese get to know and honor one another’s heritage.

She continues to be a model of outreach at the Stockton – San Joaquin County Public Library, where her position as deputy director allows her to have an impact on recruitment, team-building, and cultural and ethnic understanding. Wong believes that all staff members are library ambassadors, fostering community goodwill and potential collaborations. She participates by sitting on boards, volunteering on committees, attending functions, and extending the library’s assistance.

As a consultant for CSL, Wong has trained public library staff in the art of partnering with local ethnic organizations to improve their outreach and cultural programming. She also coauthored two CSL studies on partnering and another on effective library services for Asian-language speakers.

Wong brings to her work a host of community contacts, an annual mailing list in the hundreds, and a ‘penchant for bringing people together.’ Her most important skill? That’s easy, says Grace Francisco at Oceanside Public Library: ‘Everyone who meets Patty is made to feel special.’




CURRENT POSITION Deputy Director, Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, CA; part-time faculty, San Jose State University SLIS; Trainer and Consultant, California Cultural Crossroads, California State Library

DEGREES MLIS, University of California – Berkeley, 1984

AWARDS 2006 Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Advocacy Award from the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color