Meet the Candidates: Gillian S. (Jill) Gremmels

Editor’s Note: In the lead-up to the 2021 ALA/ACRL election, we’re profiling the 2021 ACRL Board of Directors candidates. We’ll feature one candidate in slate order each weekday from March 1-5. Complete details on candidates for ACRL offices are available on the election website. Make sure to vote for the candidates of your choice starting March 8.

Gillian S. (Jill) Gremmels

Gillian S. (Jill) Gremmels is the dean of the Cowles Library at Drake University in Des Moines, IA and a 2021 candidate for the ACRL Board of Directors as Director-at-Large.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Innovative, collaborative, kind.

2. Describe ACRL in three words: Leader, advocate, educator.

3. What do you value about ACRL? ACRL is the home and voice for academic librarians from all types of institutions of higher education. ACRL tackles the biggest issues with intentionality, purpose, and the confidence that the association can make a difference. Neither of those things is a given; they are the result of ambitious choices made for decades by the dedicated librarians who have served the association. Because of those choices, ACRL can and does offer rich professional development resources, many at no cost, meeting a major need and providing significant benefit to all academic librarians.

4. What would you as candidate for the ACRL Board like to see ACRL accomplish in the area of EDI? I’ve been in the profession long enough to have witnessed the culture change around information literacy. I can remember when some pioneers championed it but many librarians saw it as an add-on, and there was skepticism about its importance. Now information literacy is (rightly, in my opinion) seen as central to the mission of academic libraries. ACRL was instrumental in that development, creating lists of best practices, the standards, and the framework. I think we need similar culture change around EDI. Libraries need to welcome and include people from underrepresented groups, nurturing the development of new professionals and encouraging involvement in the profession. ACRL is already the place for professional involvement and development. The association can lead the profession to an ethos where inclusion is the norm.

5. In your own words: I am optimistic about the future of libraries, even during a time of great challenge to higher education in general. The expertise of librarians is needed in the academy and society. But we need to be willing to tackle head-on the perceptions of irrelevance, ask heretical questions, and imagine a dramatically different scholarly communication environment so we can work to achieve it. We need to do things differently and do different things.

6. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, for our university book club, and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, on the recommendation of my boss. I’m well into Michelle Silverthorn’s Authentic Diversity. I’ve been dipping into a couple of books on the science of cooking, and I binge-read series fiction for fun and escape, currently the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.