The nearly five-decade career of Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee, dean emeritus of Ohio University Libraries, is one that is highly celebrated due to his contributions that continue to greatly impact the field of librarianship worldwide.
On June 26, 2016, the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), honored Lee with the prestigious 2016 CALA Outstanding Library Leadership Award in Memory of Dr. Margaret Chang Fung, at the CALA Awards Banquet, held during the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The CALA Outstanding Library Leadership Award is annually bestowed to the recipient who best honors the legacy and goals of Chinese American librarian Dr. Margaret Chang Fung, through “exemplary achievements, contributions and leadership in the library and information profession.”
An announcement naming Lee as the 2016 award recipient was published on the CALA website:
“Congratulations to Dr. Lee on receiving this high honor. The award, $1000 and a plaque of achievement donated by the Fung’s family and friends in honor of Dr. Fung’s distinguished library career as a dedicated library director, educator, innovator, scholar, government official, and above all, an exemplary leader. Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee’s excellent professional career has reflected these merits and values.”
Lee served as the director and later dean of Ohio University Libraries from 1978 through 1999, and is celebrated for his dedicated work and contributions to the field of librarianship, especially in relation to collaborative partnerships between the United States and China.
Following the completion of a bachelor’s in education from National Taiwan University, Lee, a native of China, traveled to the United States to pursue graduate studies in 1957. He earned a masters in education from the University of Pittsburgh; a masters in library science from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.
After accomplishing his educational goals, Lee worked as head of technical services at Duquesne University Library; head librarian at Edinboro University; director of the Library and Information Center at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand; and associate director of libraries and professor of library administration at Colorado State University, before joining Ohio University Libraries in 1978.
Under the leadership of Dr. Charles J. Ping, president emeritus of Ohio University, Lee worked with a dedicated staff to transform OHIO’s Libraries into a well-respected research facility that embraced international partnerships and technological advancements—including the acquisition of ALICE, an integrated computer-automated, searchable library system for interlibrary loans, circulation, and research.
In 1996, Lee led the Libraries to membership in the Association for Research Libraries (ARL), a prestigious organization that addresses the issues that impact libraries, research, higher education, and scholarly communities.
Some of Lee’s most significant work includes the founding of the Libraries’ Shao You-Bao Overseas Chinese Documentation and Research Center. In addition, he played a key role in the establishment of the International Librarians Internship Program, which enabled OHIO librarians and international librarians to participate in a mutual educational exchange related to library practices.
When Lee retired from OHIO Libraries, he became the chief of The Library of Congress’ Asian Division from 2003 through 2008. Over this five-year period, Lee built the Asian Division’s collections, improved the utilization of the collection’s materials, and expanded electronic services.
In 2015, Lee was honored with the prestigious Melvil Dewey Medal from the ALA. Now, almost one year later, CALA will recognize Lee’s unparalleled work.
Established in Illinois in March 1973, CALA intended to promote the communication, development and professional concerns of Chinese American librarians, and has been an ALA affiliate since 1976. By 1979, the organization had expanded nationally to include five chapters in the Northeast, Midwest, Atlantic, Southwest regions of the United States. In 1983, the organization merged with the Chinese Librarians Association.
Ohio University Libraries congratulates Lee for receiving the 2016 CALA Outstanding Library Leadership Award. Without a doubt, his professional impact, which forever changed the Libraries, will continue to be honored for years to come.