This past April, CALA member Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee, was awarded the Medal of Appreciation by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand for his role both as the founding library director and as a member of the International Advisory Committee in the rebuilding of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) library after it was damaged by a devastating flooding which effected about two-third of the country in 2011. The entire AIT campus, including its library, was inundated under 6 ft. of water for about two months and most of the library collections were damaged.
Dr. Lee was the founding director of the AIT Library and Regional Information Center in Thailand from 1968 to 1975. It was exactly 50 years ago Dr. Lee was recruited by the U.S. Agency for International Development to join a team of 12 American engineering professors and administrative professionals traveling to Bangkok, Thailand for establishing the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), a regional graduate school of engineering and technology. The project was an international initiative in which countries around the world joined forces to successfully establish such a graduate school in Asia.
In 2014, Dr. Lee was invited by AIT President, Dr. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, to serve on the International Advisory Committee for the Library Modernization Project under the honorary chair, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand. The committee headed the fundraising initiative to rebuild the AIT library.
In acknowledgement of the highly successful international fundraising efforts and his advisory role in the design of the modernized library, Dr. Lee was recognized at the opening of the renovated AIT library on April 27, 2018.
From his legacy at the AIT Library to the many key library positions he held in the U.S., included 21 years as the dean of libraries at Ohio University, three years as the visiting distinguished scholar and consultant at OCLC, and five years as the chief of Asian division at the Library of Congress, Dr. Lee and his wife retired to Jacksonville, Florida in 2008. Dr. Lee has been a CALA member since 1975 and served as CALA president in 1978-79. In 2015, he was the first Asian American librarian to receive the Melvil Dewey Medal awarded by American Library Association.