Author Archives: Polly Thistlethwaite

About Polly Thistlethwaite

Prof. Polly Thistlethwaite is Chief Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center.


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 GC Library’s activity in library networks to expand access for GC scholars. The GC’s interlibrary loan service is the strongest in CUNY, and the GC Library is an important hub for training and development in the New York state IDS document delivery network. Polly served on the committee to implement intra-CUNY borrowing in 2005. She has steadily intensified resource sharing with the New York Public Library, centering the NYPL as the Graduate Center’s research library. Through affiliation with NYPL and the MaRLI collaborative, GC students and faculty also borrow from the Columbia and NYU research libraries. Polly has supported growth of the GC Library home collection in both electronic and print formats, and she has overseen a significant expansion in GC library instruction.

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 online to anyone with an internet connection. She chaired the CUNY task force that outlined requirements for 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 served as 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. Her partnership with the JustPublics@365 project promoting public scholarship for social justice was an unavoidable alliance of confluent sensibilities. In 2016 they co-authored a book based on the project, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era.

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 even before that.

Polly earned a BS in Anthropology from the University of Illinois, followed by a year in grad school while working as a clerk in the U of I’s Communications Library. She shifted her course into librarianship and earned an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois in 1984. She obtained a second subject MS in Liberal Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center in 1996.