Monday, May 11, 2015

Nancy Goebel Winner of Women and Gender Studies Award

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Nancy Goebel, head librarian at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta, is the winner of the 2015 Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL] Women and Gender Studies Section [WGSS] Award for Significant Achievement in Women and Gender Studies Librarianship. The WGSS award honors a significant or one-time contribution to women and gender studies librarianship.

In 2009, Nancy adapted the idea of a human library from a human rights NGO program in Denmark for an academic context. Conducted twice a year, the augustana human library is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members to learn about the experiences of another person in a structured and safe space for both the Reader and the Human Book. Its goals are to create opportunities for individuals to learn and share experiences, develop tools for mutual respect and respect for human dignity and to provide occasion for Readers to reflect on their own experiences and prejudices. Students are encouraged to think about and explore the connections between what they learn from the human library conversations and traditional scholarly materials and research, providing rich opportunities to see first-hand how qualitative work can inform and deepen our knowledge of the world.

"The committee was so impressed by the impact this unique and innovative program is having on the Augustana community," said award Chair Heather Tompkins, reference and instruction librarian for the humanities at Carleton College. "Many of the narratives in the human library in 2014 focus on experiences deeply relevant to women and gender studies: students, and community members, including balancing motherhood and school, challenging transphobia, and healing from sexual abuse. Nominators spoke at length about the ways this project fosters connections, promotes understanding, and provides deep learning experiences."

"The words engagement, compassion, and life-changing came up frequently when faculty who have been involved with the human library, either as Human Books, Readers, or professors using this resource in their courses," noted Tompkins. "One recommender said, 'The notion of human libraries being a place to promote understanding and compassion through exploring prejudice and stereotyping by the narratives of those volunteering to be read is powerful. The augustana human library helps our fundamental humanity emerge through bringing people together for inquiry and dialogue.' Nancy’s leadership and role in positioning the library as a leader and facilitator in this kind of inquiry and dialogue make it an exemplary program to serve women and gender studies students and faculty, and to encourage thoughtful engagement with gender on campus and in the community."

Nancy herself notes that the success of the augustana human library is also due in large part to the many contributions of the Augustana Library staff.  Kara Blizzard and Tanya Pattullo, in particular, have been integral to research, coordination, and promotion of events.

Adapted from:

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