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Staff profile: Apikanya “M” McCarty

Can YOU do your job in four different languages?

Who she is: Apikanya (“M”) McCarty, original cataloger. Original catalogers provide detailed descriptions of library resources using international standards, so that people can find them when they’re searching in the Library’s online catalog or on the web.

M profileWhat she does: My area is Southeast Asian collections, so I catalog materials in three different languages from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

Where she comes from: I was born in Thailand, and I came here 18 years ago when I married an American guy who’s from Binghamton. My parents, my brother and sister — they’re all still in Thailand.

Education: I taught myself Lao, because it’s close to Thai. I took Khmer courses at Cornell for several years, when we had a huge backlog of Khmer books. I decided I wanted to help and learned the language.

Background: I was a Peace Corps trainer in Thailand for four years before I met my ex-husband, who was also in Peace Corps. We got married and moved back to the States, and I worked as a teacher’s assistant in the Ithaca City School District and at the Thai Language Program at Cornell. After that, I became a mom of two beautiful girls. When my younger daughter turned two, I felt ready to get back to work full time and the Library needed a Thai cataloger, so I started working here in 1999.

What she’s most proud of: Last year, I played a big role in helping the Library of Congress revise the Thai and Khmer romanization tables — that is something that will be useful to any library cataloging those materials and should last a very long time. I was also elected to chair the subcommittee for Technical Services of the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA), which was established to enhance the collection of Southeast Asia research materials and help make them available to scholars, faculty and students nationwide.

The best part of her job: My job connects me to my background. I get to read all the new titles and know what’s going on in Thailand; it’s like keeping in touch. Because I am one of a very few people in this country who can catalog materials in these three languages, I feel I am contributing to the library world.

In her spare time: I work out in the gym. I am a big fan of all the Les Mills Programs. I like them so much that I became a certified Body Pump trainer, and I still take classes almost every day. I go to the gym, and I like to eat, so that’s why I cook – I couldn’t find anything done the way I like to cook here, so I have to do it myself! I also like traveling, and I spent all of January in Thailand, visiting my friends and eating lots of food. In Thailand, you find good food everywhere. That was heaven.

Dream job: If I had enough money, I would own a Thai bed and breakfast. I’d decorate it to have four rooms, and each one would represent a region of Thailand.  I’d still work here part-time, too — I really like my job and I wouldn’t leave the Library behind.

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In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.