Excerpted From: Mari Cheney, Mandy Lee and Anna Lawless-Collins, Bolstering the Asian American Law Library Collection: A Collection Development Guide, 114 Law Library Journal 285 (2022) (67 Footnotes) (Full Document)

¶1 When the news broke that six Asian American women had been murdered as part of one man's shooting spree in Atlanta, it seemed that the media was finally recognizing the upswing in violence against another racial minority in the United States. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that in America's largest cities anti-Asian hate crimes grew 145 percent between 2019 and 2020, while overall hate crimes dropped 6 percent in that same time.

¶2 More than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the upswing persists. Comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, hate crimes against Asians in the United States increased 164 percent. Some geographic areas have experienced significantly more anti-Asian incidents than others. In San Francisco, anti-- Asian American and PacificIslander hate crimes rose 567 percent from 2020 to 2021, while the next largest uptick in hate crimes against a particular demographic group grew by 60 percent.

¶3 A recent Pew Research Center survey reported that nearly two-thirds of adults of Asian descent in the United States believe that violence against Asian Americans in the country is increasing, and more than a third have changed their daily schedules or routines in the past 12 months due to worry that they may be attacked or threatened because of their race or ethnicity. Almost half of the general population (48 percent) believe that hate crimes against Asian Americans and PacificIslanders have increased in the past year (2021-2022), whereas the general population believes that hate crimes against Black and Latino individuals have increased 29 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

¶4 Noting the national tension in race relations and the increased hate crimes against Asian Americans, law librarians around the country considered what collection development decisions might better support their Asian American students, faculty, and staff. Many began looking for books and media about and for Asian American lawyers to bolster their libraries' collections. But often they were disappointed by what they found: first, that Asian Americans were underrepresented in legal literature; and second, that the few available resources had not been compiled into suggested reading lists or, if compiled, were not publicly available. These regrettable discoveries contrasted with how law libraries had responded to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement: many created LibGuides with comprehensive BLM-relevant reading lists. Such a proactive response to injustice and hate was needed again--this time for Asian Americans.

¶5 This article aims to jumpstart the conversation. It first reviews current statistics on Asian Americans' representation in legal settings, examines why representation matters, and discusses the role education plays in raising awareness about underrepresentation. It next discusses how to conduct a diversity audit for a library's current collection. Finally, it attempts to fill the current gap in guidance on developing robust collections of Asian American materials. While our list is not exhaustive, we hope it provides solid starting point for librarians who want to make sure their Asian American students, faculty, and staff feel seen and are fairly represented in their library's collection.

¶6 A note on terminology: Many varying definitions are found for the terms “Asian American” and “Asian AmericanPacificIslander (AAPI).” While the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of “Asian American” does not include PacificIslanders, for the sake of both inclusivity and brevity, we use the term “Asian American” to include Asian and PacificIslanderAmericans, unless noted otherwise.

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¶36 The thought of diversifying a collection in one particular area may seem daunting, especially given most libraries' budget constraints. But if you have prioritized staff time for a diversity audit of your collection, the next step is to slowly start to build a diverse collection. If there is not a budget to back-fill holes in your collection, make it a priority to purchase a few diverse titles in each purchasing cycle. It is important to prioritize the purchase of Asian American legal literature to demonstrate to our law library patrons that they are seen, valuable, and just as important as their counterparts.

Mari Cheney, Assistant Director, Research and Instruction, Boley Law Library, Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon.

Mandy Lee, Head of Research and Instruction, Chicago-Kent College of Law Library, Chicago, Illinois. Asian American Law Librarians Caucus Chair, 2020-2021.

Anna Lawless-Collins, Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services, Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries, Boston University School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts.

Appendixes: Suggested Reading Lists

Appendix A: Nonfiction Books by or About Asian American Lawyers, Legal Issues, or Politicians

Appendix B: Fiction Books by or About Asian American Lawyers

Appendix C: Other Books for Your Popular Reads Collection About the Asian American Experience

Appendix D: Documentary Films by or About Asian American Lawyers, Legal Issues, or Politicians