John Hickok, an international outreach librarian at Pollak Library, spends his summers and winter breaks bringing literature and his expertise to libraries throughout Asia.
It has become his life’s work.
This fall, he will take his passion to the Philippines as a Fulbright Scholar, where he will teach library sciences at two universities.
“A Fulbright is one of my bucket list dreams,” Hickok said. “One is to publish an entire book, and that’s going to happen this year. And the other is the Fulbright.”
In the fall, Hickok will teach library science courses to students studying to be librarians at the Philippines Normal University and the University of Santo Tomas. In the Philippines, librarians are civil servants and are required to pass a certification exam.
“I’ll be helping them with the skills needed to pass the exam and fulfilling the mission of the Fulbright to be a goodwill ambassador,” Hickok said.
He said Cal State Fullerton students and the Pollak Library also will benefit from his semester in the Philippines.
“I am going to be able to bridge some cultural gaps and increase our outreach to our Filipino student population,” Hickok said. “These opportunities help me better relate to the students’ needs and their understanding of the library system,” he said.
Hickok teaches library and research skills classes to ESL and international students. He specializes in Asian communities and has traveled to more than 25 countries, visiting nearly 1,000 libraries in South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia since joining the faculty in 1997.
Hickok holds dual master’s degrees in library and information sciences, and his research area is cross-cultural comparisons of library services in other countries with a focus on Asia.
Since 1997 and including a 2005 sabbatical across the Pacific, Hickok has journeyed to Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
“I have a lot of frequent-flyer miles,” Hickok, who finances his trips with scholarly/professional development funds from the library, as well as his own money, said.
Hickok’s Asian outreach also includes workshops with such groups as the Pilipino American Student Association, as well as a joint project between the Pollak Library and CSUF’s Vietnamese and Cambodian student associations, taking children’s books to schools in Vietnam and Cambodia.
“Cal State Fullerton has a large Asian population from Chinese to Filipinos,” Hickok said. “And they are all different and diverse, and that’s what I love about the various cultures. Each has its own individual uniqueness.”