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Academic and Research Librarian from Redwood City

I talk about: Bridging Divides, Community Building, Economic Mobility, Education, Equity & Inclusion, Immigration, Personal Development

Ray Pun struggled with English as he grew up in New York City, the child of Chinese immigrants. His teachers put him in ESL and remedial reading programs, which meant spending a lot of time in libraries. They felt like a second home to him.

People of many cultures and ages came together to explore ideas, learn skills, and often developed friendships. Libraries hosted classes and groups, held events, and welcomed everyone no matter their background or skill. After two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education, Ray now serves as the academic and research librarian at the Alder Graduate School of Education, a teacher residency program in California, where he collaborates with teacher educators to train and retain excellent teachers.

β€œMy work as a librarian helps me connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds and share and raise awareness of their challenges and stories that are often not told or seen in stories and public spaces. Libraries are the heart of our communities. They honor marginalized voices and foster a sense of belonging in our communities.”

Ray has organized public programs in libraries celebrating diverse voices and experiences like Arab American novelist Ameen Rihani at The New York Public Library or the Yokuts and Mono peoples in a Talk Story Program at California State University in Fresno. Ray often speaks at conferences on how libraries can inspire communities to live the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In addition, Ray has been elected as the American Library Association (ALA) President 2025-2026.

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Ray.  Pleased to have you join us at Weavers.  I and my wife have been blessed to be part of International Friends at Utah State University.  We work with the international students here, engaging the local community to make this feel like home as much as possible.  Recently, the Business College reached out to us, as they wanted their Utah students who are studying international business to have had relationships with our students.  They started a chapter of TSOS (Their Story is Our Story) and we hope our joint events will lead to cross-cultural understanding and friendships.  We would love to know of other community non-profits that might have similar programs, if you are aware of such.

By the way, Weavers tells us that April 15-21 is National Week of Conversation.  We together with TSOS will have a drop by lunch event at the student center one day that week to encourage face to face conversations with strangers.  Though we would love to have you come out as our speaker, we are short of funds.  However, we often come to SF to visit our kids and grandkids there.  And sometimes see friends out there who have graduated from USU.  Perhaps someday we can get together to compare notes.  And perhaps someday we can have you come to Logan, Utah to share your story.

Nathan Hult
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