ACRL Member of the Week: Margaret F. Nichols

Margaret F. Nichols is a rare materials cataloging coordinator at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Margaret has been a member of ACRL for 33 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for August 1, 2022.

Describe yourself in three words: Rare materials cataloger.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I am reading Waking Up White by Debby Irving and The 1619 Project.

Describe ACRL in three words: RBMS parent organization.

What do you value about ACRL? I’ve encountered ACRL mainly in its role of providing support and guidance for its 17 sections, especially the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS). It’s been a wonderful partner in helping to plan and carry out RBMS’s annual 3-day conference; administering scholarships for new professionals to attend the conference; providing guidance to the section’s Executive Committee; reviewing proposed standards and guidelines; publishing the section’s journal, RBM; and doubtless in other ways.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I help support research and teaching by cataloging individual special collections materials, making them visible in the online catalog and retrievable for use in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections reading room. I also coordinate cataloging projects for other staff who work with these materials. We catalog items in all formats–mainly books and serials, but also prints, sound recordings, films, movie posters, zines, bound manuscripts, and even 3-D objects.

In your own words: I began my career as an English professor, but to my surprise, it turns out that I am a techie at heart. Cataloging is a continual intellectual challenge, and also continually rewarding. After having wandered in the woods of literary theory, it’s very satisfying to do something measurable that involves tangible objects, especially when they are so varied, and often unusual. I get to see researchers come to use the things I’ve cataloged, and fellow librarians present them to visiting classes. It’s also a joy to work with my colleagues, who are wonderful in every way.

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