Monday, November 20th, 2023

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month: Centre A

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month features a unique art gallery in Canada, Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. The Centre’s Interim Artistic Director Diane Hau Yu Wong was kind enough to field my questions this month. Here are her thoughtful replies about their work:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is a leading public art gallery currently situated in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. It is a registered charity and the only public art gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Asian and Asian-diasporic perspectives since 1999.

Centre A is committed to providing a platform for engaging diverse communities through public access to the arts, creating mentorship opportunities for emerging artists and arts professionals, and stimulating critical dialogue through provocative exhibitions and innovative public programs that complicate understandings of migrant experiences and diasporic communities.

The reading room and library at Centre A (pictured left) began in 1999 with contributions from artists, researchers, and curators both locally in Vancouver and internationally. The reading room emerged out of the need to collect a body of literature on Asian art practices, and by extension creating transnational ties with international arts communities. Past curators at Centre A have made significant contributions in collecting publications that reflect and engage in conversations concerning contemporary Asian and Asian diasporic art practices, and the artistic relationships between North America and Asia.

Centre A’s reading room includes the Fraser Finlayson Collection of rare books on Classical Chinese and Japanese Art with publications dating back to the late 19th century. Included in the reading room are also recent publications that have been donated by galleries, artists and artists collectives, and curators. In addition, we house monographs, artist ephemera, exhibition catalogues, art criticism writings, and artist’s books that have contributed to the diverse livelihood and possibilities of the reading room as a site of cultural production. Some publications in the reading room include books by Ai Weiwei, Santiago Bose, Yayoi Kusama, Mona Hatoum, Reena Saimi Kallat, as well as other notable artists.

Tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community.

Centre A activate our library space through a number of public programs, for example in 2022 we hosted our inaugural Art Writing Mentorship where we provided 8 Asian-Canadian youths the opportunity to learn from established writers, editors, artists, and curators in a professional setting, while receiving exclusive networking opportunities, mentorship, supervision, and feedback on their writing. We also participate in Art and Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon every year, often including resources from our library. As part of the A+F, we also host workshops and reading groups, panel discussions, and artist talks. 

We also welcome community members to come visit the library and encourage students to spend time in the space during our opening hours.

That’s quite a rich array of offerings, I’m guessing your collection reflects much of the same quality. Do you have any particular favorites in your collection?

My personal favourite item in our collection is an exhibition catalogue from the Vancouver Art Gallery titled The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture. I do research on the potentiality of different iterations of futurisms, including Asian Futurism, Afrofuturism, Indigenous Futurism, and more. Discussion of cyborgs is very prominent in Asian Futurism and The Uncanny is a very important text in that research.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

At the moment, we do not have a system or staff capacity that allows us to lend out books; I would like to change that in the next 5 years.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

My favorite thing about TinyCat is how easy it is to use! It creates a system in which we can easily manage our wide range of books on Asian and Asian diasporic art and make it easily accessible for our audience. Keep up the good work!

Want to learn more about Centre A?

Visit Centre A’s Reading Room page at and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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