Student Profile: Elán Birkeland

Elán Birkeland

Prior to completing a master’s in library science in May 2019, Elán Birkeland earned a bachelor’s in social science and a minor in Spanish from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, ID, and a master’s in public history, focusing on international military history, from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Wilmington, NC.   

Currently, Birkeland works at Arizona Western College Academic Library as a reference librarian. 

“It’s so rewarding to use information literacy to help first generation college students navigate the digital world of resources and show them all the free information that is available to them,” she said. 

Although she grew up in libraries, Birkeland says that the theoretical work in the LIS program really expanded her idea of librarianship. 

“Being an online student taught me the power of good communication and time management, while showing that online discussions can lead to a more inclusive forum since there is not a 2-hour class time limit on addressing a subject,” Birkeland said.

In addition to her full-time job, Birkeland reviews books for Library Journalan is acting as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy

“Exploring these other aspects that affect librarianship are really interesting and shows a whole new world beyond traditional librarianship that you can move into. I’d ultimately like to end up in a federal library position or working in a military academic library with their archives.” she said. “These national institutions are treasure troves of information that often has to be explored in person but are so interesting and align with my historical research interests.”

Birkeland recommends that current students should take advantage of opportunities, such as internships, the school’s Alternative Spring Break program in Washington, D.C., networking events, and certificate programs. 

“Even if you feel that you have little time, try to join in on just one of the UK ALA student meetings; being a member offers you even more opportunities throughout the LIS program, such as the ALA Student2Staff scholarship,” she said. 

In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and exploring local boutiques and craft breweries. She also volunteers as social media coordinator for Puppy Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization that helps soldiers formally adopt dogs and cats that they rescued while deployed. This summer, Birkeland, her husband, and their rescue dog, Demi, are moving to Okinawa Island and are looking forward to future travels together.