Born in China and raised in Taiwan, Rose Li (pronounced Lee) obtained her Masters in Library Science from the University of Michigan. An avid collector of art books and a Chinese watercolor recreational painter, Li took on a cataloging position at NYBG in 1967.
By 1983, she became an Associate Librarian, becoming the first Asian librarian in charge of Mertz Library's Technical Services department. Supervising and training staff who cataloged and created item bibliographic records, Li also used her knowledge of the Asiatic and French language to transcribe and create catalog records. Creating Slavic and German bibliographic records, Li relied on staff members within the Technical Services team, Marianne Block and Katy Enders.(1) When an item arrived to the library, Rose Li and her team entered the item description into both the library's card catalog system and the global nonprofit library database, OCLC. In connection to the Library of Congress cataloging standards, OCLC interlinks library communities and improves cataloging workflows, bringing visibility to library resources.
A catalog record consists of varying information: title, author, item size, number of pages, material type, subject headings, call number, item location, subfields, external hyperlinks and more. Creating item records helps Mertz Library staff work with publishers and vendors to advocate for user accessibility, maintain the library’s collections and provide access to information.
Rose Li's career spanned over three decades, serving multiple roles as Mertz Library's cataloger and librarian. Li's duo linguistic abilities and specialty in organizing and acquiring library materials made it possible for patrons to browse the library catalog and borrow library materials.
Significant to the library's mission to connect people to knowledge and support research, online library catalogs act as the first stop to locate and discover items in the library’s collections. Mertz Library's Technical Services staff has adapted swiftly to changing technologies and cataloging standards and continues to work diligently, describing, managing and developing the library’s collections of over half a million books in 96 languages.
1. "A Multi-Lingual Librarian." Newsletter: New York Botanical Garden, vol.16, no.4, Winter,1983, p.4-5.