Meet the Staff – Mary Jane Petrowski

Editor’s Note: This month we return to our occasional series profiling members of the ACRL staff. This month, we feature ACRL’s Associate Director, Mary Jane Petrowski. You can learn more about all the ACRL staff on the association website.

petrowski2015-highres-9 (2)1. Describe yourself in three words. Artistic, intuitive, resilient.

2. What are you reading right now? I’m always reading last week’s issue of The New Yorker, watching Happy Valley, and listening to whatever vinyl my husband is playing at the moment.

3. What was your background before coming to ACRL?  I went to school in the Research Triangle (Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and was hired over the phone to run a small military library on a U.S. army intelligence base in Sinop, Turkey (circa Argo). After seven years, the Turkish military started to censor the library collection and insisted on removing any material about the Armenian genocide and/or the Kurds. So I left Turkey to work at the NATO Command Library in Ramstein, West Germany. My favorite sign on the way to work read “Paris – 300 KM.”

Just before the Berlin Wall fell, I returned to the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana to work on a Certificate of Advance Study in library science. While working on my degree, I joined the library faculty of the University Library at UIUC and worked in the Undergraduate Library with Betsy Wilson, Charles Forrest, and Lori Arp. Always on the move, I left Illinois for snowy upstate New York where I worked at Colgate University for ten years. Having completed all my academic library fieldwork, I returned to the Midwest to work at ACRL.

4. What do you do in your role as ACRL’s Associate Director? I enjoying working as staff liaison to a number of ACRL division-level committees (Membership, Student Learning and Information Literacy, ACRL Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board, to name a few). I also work on ACRL member recruitment and engagement, fundraising, and manage the ACRL statistics program.

5. What’s your favorite thing about (or most memorable experience) working at ACRL?  Favorite thing: the ACRL staff is the most fantastic group of people I’ve ever worked with hands down–we really do “team for results.” Collectively, I think the “frolleagues” have worked together at least 100 years. Most memorable experience: taking a break during a Board meeting in San Francisco and getting locked in the bowels of the convention center. The second most memorable experience: heading to the ACRL Conference in Minneapolis in 2005 and discovering I’d gone to the wrong airport.

6. Fun fact about Mary Jane: I’ve attended every ACRL Conference since the 1989 conference in Cincinnati.

7. In your own words: During the past week I’ve been reading testimonials from members who received scholarships to attend the 2015 ACRL Conference in Portland, Oregon. It is so gratifying to know that the work of ACRL leaders, members, and staff has had a profound impact on the lives and careers of so many students, new librarians, and mid-career professionals.  I’d love to win the Chicago lottery and give ACRL a big donation so that every scholarship applicant could have the chance to experience the ACRL conference at least once in their lifetime.