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Get to Know Charles J. Greenberg

No matter what our personal circumstances may be, if we ourselves become a source of light, then there will be no darkness in the world.
– Daisaku Ikedu On Courage

I am an information professional with an international orientation. That’s because I know that people have more in common than what separates them. Dialogue and the courage to discuss difference has the power to change perspectives

Wenzhou-Kean Students that participated in the Big Read project during the Fall 2018 semester. The Big Read was actually a marathon Halloween reading from noon to midnight of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with students, faculty, and guests taking turns reading for several minutes (with no rehearsal, at a microphone). These were amazing students.

Members of the local Buddhist practitioner community came to my office for a visit during the summer. In spite of the fact that there are hundreds of Christian churches in Wenzhou, there are also hundreds of historical and contemporary temples and shrines in Wenzhou. Buddhism was a dominant faith practice for centuries in China, and Chinese Buddhism traveled east to Japan.

My international consciousness: Forged in experience

My first international experience as a librarian occurred in the early 1990s, following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Shortly thereafter, the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University entered into a Russian partnership. My assignment was to teach computer and internet literacy to an annual cohort of Russian medical students that came to visit for three months. For three years I looked forward to this annual opportunity, and I hosted each cohort on social activities.


In 1994 I met the Library Director for the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong. She later contacted me and requested a proposal on how I could teach basics of Internet to public hospital librarians. I proposed a two-week training program, and arrived in Hong Kong in the middle of March 1995. Following each morning training lesson I provided, we lunched at a delectable dim sum restaurant. In 2015 had a 20th reunion with one of my Hospital Authority students, who had now herself become a Hong Kong Library Director. 

I joined the staff of the Yale Libraries in late 1998. I was in the right place at the right time. The Yale World Fellow Program began in 2002, bringing 16 accomplished, mid-career, global leaders to Yale for a four-month academic experience. I would not think of Alexei Navalny as a friend if I had not met him as a Yale World Fellow in 2010, when we compared blogging techniques. Around 2006 the Yale Library started its own visiting Librarian fellowship, and I nominated and helped host an African World Health Organization librarian who introduced the Yale Library staff to the Blue Trunk Library. In 2007, following a walk-in library class, a visiting surgeon from Yerevan, Armenia, asked me if I would consider visiting Armenia to train librarians and residents. He introduced me to the Fulbright Specialist Program. In the late spring of 2008 I was on my way to Yerevan for two weeks of training and cultural immersion. I decided to return to Armenia in 2012 to continue my commitment to improve health care through information delivered by the Republican Scientific Medical Library. I was recently accepted for the 2021-2024 roster of qualified academic specialists.

I have also been active in the non-profit Networked Digital Library for Theses & Dissertations (NDLTD) , which grew out of my co-founding and managing the Yale Medicine Thesis Digital Library, an original institutional repository for medical student M.D. theses. In 2010 I jointed the NDLTD Board of Directors, a responsibility role I still fulfill today, supporting the publication of student scholarship. My current roles are Chair of the NDLTD Awards Committee and Managing Editor for the Journal of Electronic Theses and Disstertations (J-EDT).

So how did I end up as the University Library Director in Wenzhou, China? It seemed like a unique opportunity at a time when I was ready for more library leadership experience: design, establish, staff, and manage a multi-story academic library being built to deliver English language university education for Chinese students. I dedicated more than five years to this task, truly immersing myself in local Chinese culture and both ancient and modern traditions. My position in Wenzhou concluded in mid-2019. My comprehensive library leadership opportunity in Wenzhou has created and sustained the evolution needed in my Library’s infancy, from merely a collection to a service organization. This is certainly a once in a lifetime experience that I am proud to have accomplished. Please see my blog for observations and stories about my life in China.

Library Professional, Library Science Instructor, Fulbright Academic Specialist, Creative Educator