ACRL Member of the Week: Nicole Pagowsky

Nicole Pagowsky

Nicole Pagowsky is an associate librarian at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Nicole has been a member of ACRL for 13 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for April 26, 2021.

Describe yourself in three words: We should collaborate.

What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I recently finished the audiobook of Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk by Sam McPheeter. I listened to his own bands, bands on his label, and read Maximum Rocknroll, so it was interesting and nostalgic to learn more about his experience existing within this genre (or way of life, depending on who you’re talking to). He touches on this pervasive feeling that the golden hour of this subgenre we call so many different names has already set before your time, and everything after is a repeat of the past, in homogeneity. So what nostalgia is “real?” is how I’ve been thinking about it. I’m mostly a nonfiction reader but I try to rotate in fiction and am about to start The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett.

Describe ACRL in three words: Relationships, community, platform.

What do you value about ACRL? The connections I’ve made with so many brilliant librarians have sustained me through my career, and continue to create opportunities for projects and expanding conversations. I’m appreciative of having access to numerous platforms through ACRL to put ideas into action.

What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? I work to help students see themselves with agency in order to contribute to the conversation of research in ways that are inclusive and equitable. Working with faculty and staff to implement the why instead of just the how of the research process can humanize information literacy and make it more relatable to students who might begin to see themselves as stakeholders in discourse. I also endeavor to partner with faculty to make them better teachers of information literacy, interwoven throughout their courses rather than through delivery of discrete one-shots. I work to use critical information literacy and inclusive pedagogy as a focus in my own teaching as a librarian, and as an adjunct for our iSchool (my course is LIS 581 Information Literacy Pedagogy as part of the first-ever Instruction and Teaching for Librarians and Information Professionals graduate certificate: https://ischool.arizona.edu/graduate-certificates/instruction-and-teaching).

In your own words: Something I think about often is just how invisible the work of academic librarianship can be, particularly in a liaison role and especially when having an instruction focus. The work is doubly feminized, and so tends to also be doubly devalued. There are so many excellent articles, books, and presentations on these topics. Short of being able to change the entire Western culture of white supremacy and ROI-driven, technocratic higher education at a systemic level, our invisibility highlights the importance of making the work more visible and pushing back against inequity when possible. It’s essential to see where we fit in our organizations and our campuses so we can understand how to have agency to make our work its most effective and impactful. Mentorship has been invaluable for me in this sense, as well as developing peer-groups, propping each other up, and working to share our platforms with those who might have less access to power. I would have never had the successes I have had without the community I have found in the field. I am enthusiastic about being an academic librarian and I love to teach future instruction librarians in my course–I think caring so much about these topics and having the courage to speak up about how our field can do better is a way we show our love for this work and each other.


Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.