Goebel wins 2015 ACRL WGSS Significant Achievement Award

For Immediate Release
Fri, 03/20/2015


Chase Ollis

Program Coordinator



CHICAGO – 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.

A plaque will be presented to Goebel at the WGSS program on Monday, June 29, during the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

In 2009, Goebel adapted the idea of a living 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. The goals of the augustana human library 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.”

Goebel received her B.A. in music from Camrose Lutheran College and her M.L.I.S. from the University of Alberta. She was also the recipient of ACRL’s IS Innovation Award in 2010 (along with Dylan Anderson), and has been recognized by the University of Alberta with the Augustana Campus 2013 Murray Lauber Award for Distinguished Service.

For more information regarding the ACRL WGSS Award for Significant Achievement in Women and Gender Studies Librarianship, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.  


The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the Web at www.acrl.org/, Facebook at www.facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.