Polly ThistlethwaitePolly became Chief Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center in 2011.

Since she arrived at the Graduate Center in 2002, Polly has increased the Library’s participation in library networks to bring meaningful access to the world’s academic and cultural heritage to CUNY scholars. The Graduate Center’s interlibrary loan service is the strongest in CUNY, and the Grad Center Library is a hub for training and development in the regional IDS document delivery network. Polly served on the committee to implement intra-CUNY borrowing in 2005. She expanded book delivery and e-resource sharing with the New York Public Library. Through affiliation with the MaRLI collaborative, CUNY scholars have meaningful access to the City’s great private research collections at Columbia and NYU. Polly and her colleagues develop the Graduate Center Library’s home collection to complement what’s available from metro area lending partners.

Polly’s early career work with queer archives and AIDS activism primed her present-day advocacy for public scholarship and open access publishing. She firmly believes that the academic output of the world’s universities should be freely available to everybody. She chaired the CUNY task force that established a CUNY-wide institutional repository, and she introduced CUNY’s first repository for self-archived scholarly work at the Graduate Center in 2014.

In 2013-2015 Polly was co-PI of the JustPublics@365 project, with Prof. Jessie Daniels. The JustPublics@365 project engaged academics with a variety of social justice efforts through technology and social media. They co-authored a book based on the project, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era, Policy Press, 2016.

Polly began at the Graduate Center in 2002 as Associate Librarian for Public Services. Prior to that she was Coordinator of Instruction at Colorado State University Libraries. She worked for CUNY Hunter College Library during the early 1990s and at New York University’s Bobst Library and Yale’s Cross Campus Library before that.

Polly earned a BS in Anthropology from the University of Illinois, followed by a year in grad school while clerking in the U of I’s Communications Library. She shifted her course to librarianship and earned an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois in 1984. She has a 2nd MA in Liberal Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center, 1996.