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Allan ChoAcademic libraries traditionally serve as the hub of campus experience – building collections, providing research support to students and faculty, and offering information literacy instruction. Allan Cho, Community Engagement Librarian, seeks to expand that experience by integrating the Library into the broader aspirations of UBC, including outreach beyond the campus walls.

One of many community partnerships is his work with the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) and its annual explorASIAN festival, which celebrates Pan-Asian culture – from Near East to Far East. “With UBC’s emphasis on intercultural understanding and engagement, it’s a natural fit for the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre – as a conduit for collaborative programming with explorASIAN – to provide a platform for new and emerging artists from the Pan-Asian community to showcase their work,” says Cho.

In addition to explorASIAN, Cho approaches partnerships with a co-programming model in mind, resulting in a diversity of programs such as Mexico Fest and Aboriginal (Un)History Month. “We’ve become a launch point for generating exciting programs that have drawn a lot of interest from the community.”

Cho’s role also involves working collaboratively with campus partners such as alumni UBC, the Centre for Community Engaged Learning, UBC Learning Exchange and e@UBC to build on the strong connections these groups have with their community constituents. And now with an enhanced focus on community engagement at the University level – UBC recently hired Pascal Spothelfer, VP, Communications & Community Partnership, and Deb Zehr, Director, Community Partnership – such connections will take on even more significance.

Cho looks to this with enthusiasm. “There’s great promise for the Library’s role in UBC’s community engagement efforts.”

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