iSchool Instructor Nancy Friedland Lauded for Theatre Arts Librarianship


Nancy FriedlandThe Theatre Library Association honored Nancy Friedland, an instructor at the San José State University School of Information, with the Louis Rachow Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding commitment to performing arts librarianship. Friedland’s achievement was celebrated on December 17, 2020, at the TLA’s virtual membership meeting and awards event.

In addition to teaching courses on online searching and digital humanities in the fully online Master of Library and Information Science program, Friedland is a librarian for media, film studies and performing arts at the Butler Library, Columbia University, a role she’s held since 1995. Her resume boasts an MLS at Rutgers University, an MA in Theatre Studies at New York University, and a BA in Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“Nancy’s work at Columbia University and elsewhere keeps the performing arts at the forefront, which is not an easy task these days,” expressed Dr. Francesca Marini, associate professor, programming and outreach librarian, Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries and TLA president. “Nancy is a champion of collaboration and energizes those who work with her; she is also a mentor, who has welcomed many new professionals into our profession.”

Friedland felt “honored” to be recognized by the TLA for her service. “I appreciate the acknowledgement for my work as a subject specialist in film studies and performing arts at Columbia University—work that I have enjoyed for more than 25 years,” she said. “I have been fortunate to share my expertise through my teaching at SJSU.”

Friedland’s long and active career in arts librarianship and media scholarship embraces a wide variety of activities. She helped establish the Butler Media Research Collection at Columbia University and served as a member of the advisory group for the Women Film Pioneers Project. Friedland was an editor and contributor to Documenting: Costume Design (2010) and co-editor and contributor to Theatre Architecture: Restoration, Renovation, and New Construction (2019). She served as a contributor to Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema & Media Studies and was part of the project’s first editorial team. 

Additionally, Friedland is a former member of the American Library Association and has participated on the task force that reviewed the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries. She has served in numerous positions with the TLA, including as the organization’s president from 2013 through 2016. She is currently the TLA’s liaison to the International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts.

Founded in 1937, the TLA supports librarians and archivists working with theatre, dance, performance studies, popular entertainment, motion picture and broadcasting collections. “We need advocates like Nancy to keep the performing arts alive,” said Marini.