Yale University Library


Visiting Librarians: Bethel M. Limzon

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Library of Congress Office in Jakarta


International Associate, Spring 2007

Twenty years ago, Charles Bryant (Southeast Asia Curator at the time) gave Bethel Limzon a book about Yale University and addressed it to her with a personal note saying, ‘I hope someday you will visit Yale.’

When she read it, she never thought in her wildest dreams that she would be able to come to Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Her dream finally came true this year, when she was given the opportunity to spend a semester as International Associate at the Yale University Library.

Bethel studied French at the University of Indonesia and for the past twenty-nine years has been working at the Library of Congress Office in Jakarta. This is one of six overseas offices administered by the African/Asian Acquisitions and Overseas Operations Division of the Library of Congress. Opened in 1963, it serves as the regional center for Southeast Asia and has branches in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila, as well as collection arrangements with Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam and Timor Leste.

Bethel started as Executive Assistant, and in 1989 moved to the Cataloging section. These experiences, and her passion for books, lead her to her current position as Assistant Team Leader and Senior Reviewer. Her duties and responsibilities include cataloging materials from Southeast Asia, performing quality control of other catalogers’ work, and training cataloging staff from her main office as well as from field offices in Bangkok and Manila.

At the Yale Library, Bethel was associated with the South and Southeast Asia Collection and the Catalog Department. Under the mentorship of Rich Richie, Curator, South and Southeast Asia Collection, she worked with, and was trained by, Dorothy Rachmat, manager of the Catalog Unit for the Southeast Asia Collection, and Steven Arakawa of the Catalog Department. While her training focussed on subject analysis and classification, she contributed to the original cataloging of the Southeast Asia Collection’s Indonesian language backlog.

While at Yale, Bethel attended the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Meeting in Boston, on March 22-25, 2007. There she spoke on behalf of her colleagues in the Cataloging Section of the Jakarta Office to the subcommittee on Technical Processes of AAS’s Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA), describing also her internship experience at Yale.

Attending the Annual Meeting gave Bethel the opportunity to meet with collection development and cataloging librarians from various Southeast Asian collections in North America. Following her internship, Bethel will be visiting the Library of Congress in Washington to review her work, build on her internship experience, and coordinate her future cataloging efforts with the cataloging units of her home institution.

Bethel’s fellowship helped build stronger cooperative ties between the Yale University Library, the Library of Congress’s Overseas Operations Division, the Library of Congress Field Office and its staff in Jakarta, and the Southeast Asian Studies related technical services units of the Library of Congress in Washington.

At Yale, Bethel was particularly impressed with the warmth and friendship of the people she met. Working away from home is hard, but she found support and encouragement within the Yale community. She is learning about subject cataloging and metadata organization and plans to use this knowledge to benefit the Library of Congress and other CAP-SEA (Cultural Aid Project for Southeast Asia) members. She noticed that, in her region, libraries and their practices are similar to those in America. The only difference is in the application of technologies in data preservation and warehousing. Most Indonesian libraries, in fact, are behind in upgrading their technologies compared to their peers in developed countries.

Beth was amazed at how Yale University impacts the lives of people in New Haven. She calls New Haven ‘Yale City’ because of the University’s role in contributing to the livelihood to those employed at Yale, as well as Yale’s well-known academic excellence. In this way businesses thrive, fueling the economy, which benefits the welfare of the people of New Haven.