Elizabeth Brown ’13 parlayed English degree to a career in library science

When deciding where she wanted to go to school, “Ripon College just felt right” for Elizabeth “Lizzie” Brown ’13.

“At the time, I was deciding between Ripon College and a state school in Wisconsin,” she says. “The other school had a lot of options with regards to clubs, programs, spaces and places to get involved; I knew I would have a lot of choice at that school. However, I felt that at Ripon I would have more opportunities. Distinguishing those two could be thought of as doors ready to be knocked on, and doors already open. Those who visit Ripon College on tour will likely see the sincere care of the staff and faculty, challenging coursework, opportunities to get involved, and something special; those who go there will feel it.”

Brown majored in English at Ripon, with minors in studio art and psychology. She received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois Urbana. She now is an associate professor and reference librarian/instruction coordinator at Brooks Library at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.

She spends a lot of time working with students. As the instruction coordinator, her duties include planning educational experiences for students, teaching in the classroom or online, overseeing the work of student interns, working one-on-one to help students with research projects, and working with campus and community partners on a variety of projects.

“The liberal arts education I gained from Ripon College has been incredibly valuable to me in life and in my profession,” Brown says. “Having a background in English has turned out to be more useful than I ever would have imagined, and I use the skills I learned constantly. Being able to think critically and creatively is essential to writing, public speaking, decision-making, time management, and a slew of other processes. The combination of English, art and psychology, not to mention the other classes I took through general education, have all pushed me toward thinking broadly and with an interdisciplinary perspective.”

She says one of the most rewarding aspects of her Ripon College education are connections — “connections with people, connections out in the community, connections between classes, connecting with nature in the beautiful prairie, connecting experiences. As a student, you have to push yourself to make sure those connections happen for you at an individual level, but Ripon created the environment where it was safe to explore and connect at a personal level.

“Now I get to connect my experiences and education from Ripon College to my profession and build forward. One special connection that I will always be grateful for was to the librarians of Lane Library. They helped me build a foundation of skills and knowledge, and provided the encouragement for me to end up doing what I do today. There was never a day where I worked in a library and didn’t learn something, and I will always be grateful for the mentorship I received.”


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