Vanessa Kam to return to Canada

June 29, 2021
Vanessa Kam with students

After almost five years as Head of the Bowes Art & Architecture Library, our wonderful colleague Vanessa Kam is leaving Stanford for the role of Electronic Resources Librarian at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD) in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she shares a home with her husband Tonel, an artist, curator and writer from Cuba. At ECUAD, Vanessa will liaise with the faculty of design and dynamic media.  Founded in 1925, ECUAD is one of British Columbia’s oldest post-secondary institutions and one of only four art institutions of its kind in Canada. 

This was a very tough decision for Vanessa, as her work at Stanford has been “beyond fulfilling.” She will miss her wonderful, extremely collegial and talented colleagues, throughout the Libraries.  She also enjoyed getting to work with such gifted faculty, students, and staff in the Department of Art & Art History.  Vanessa feels that of all the research libraries she has worked in, Stanford was the best fit for her values and way of working. 

 Vanessa Kam with Beckett Letter

Some highlights of Vanessa’s time at Stanford:

  • Playing the role of the Second Ghost and Peter (older and gentle son of Cratchit family) in a radio play adaptation of A Christmas Carol organized by Kathleen Smith
  • Hosting Zoom karaoke sessions at Oshman Hall, the McMurtry Building
  • Collaborating with her colleagues to bring in the archives of Bernice Bing, James Leong, Bernard Zakheim, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Archie Boston, Artspace, and more
  • Organizing a few Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thons in the Bowes Library
  • Working with Gabrielle Karampelas and donors to bring in a couple of new endowments for the Art Library
  • Organizing and moderating a panel on visual art and AI for the Stanford Libraries/National Library of Norway’s Fantastic Futures conference at Stanford in 2019
  • Teaching students about mail art as they wrote thank you post cards to a donor who gifted them with high-caliber frames for their artworks
  • Fielding brilliant research questions from undergraduates, graduate students and faculty
  • Purchasing antiquarian books, artists’ books, rare journal runs and other treasures for the Art Locked Stacks collection
  • Working hard and laughing with her colleagues at the Bowes Library
  • Contributing to the creation of the Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné on the Spotlight Platform (in progress)
  • Participating in the Asian American Art Initiative with colleagues at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts
  • And much much more….

Although Vanessa is saying farewell for now, her latest stint at the Stanford Libraries was actually her second experience at Stanford, as she was Associate Art Librarian and Exhibits and Publications Coordinator (Special Collections) from 2000–2005.  She left in 2005 for Canada, so it’s only fitting that she leaves Stanford for Canada at this juncture.  But who knows, like an unwanted felid abandoned by its irascible owner miles from her home, Vanessa may have the stubbornness, tenacity, and navigational know-how to return to Stanford someday.  Stranger things have happened.  We will miss her in the interim.

 Vanessa Kam