Librarian Kaijsa Calkins values her interdisciplinary education

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Alum Kaijsa Calkins is Assistant Dean of Education & Research Services at University of Wyoming Libraries where she leads the division that includes special collections, digital collections, digital scholarship and scholarly communication, and library instruction and liaison programs. It’s the career she envisioned while a UW Bothell undergraduate planning to attend library school. 

An early IAS graduate, Calkins had the unique experience of taking courses on both UW Bothell campuses – the former Canyon Park Business Center (1999-2000) and the current location (2000-01). At the time, both were small spaces under constant transition where students, faculty and staff endeavored to build community.  Calkins majored in Liberal Studies with concentrations in American Studies and Culture, Literature & the Arts. She fondly recalls courses in narrative forms, literature, film, consumer culture, and gender studies and was especially energized by Constantin Behler’s course on Weimar, Germany. “It was on politics, history, arts, literature and film,” she remembers. “We did Dada collages, watched Fritz Lang movies, and analyzed Third Reich propaganda. It was a lot of fun.” 

Calkins says her interdisciplinary education prepared her well for library school by honing her critical thinking and writing skills while training her to apply theoretical frameworks. She worked at the campus library as a student, as well as the Writing Center with then-director Becky Rosenberg, whom she supported in launching the Teaching & Learning Center. Calkins was also the editor of the campus literary journal, which was once called “Palimpsest.”

After graduating in 2001, she went onto UW Seattle to pursue a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree and held reference and instruction positions at Pierce College, UW Bothell/Cascadia College Libraries, and Seattle Central College before accepting a tenure-track library faculty position at University of Wyoming in 2006. 

Calkins can hardly believe UW Bothell is nearing its 30 year anniversary. As a student, she won a “10th anniversary scholarship” for her essay on being a time and place-bound student. Though the years have passed, she continues to draw on her interdisciplinary education. “My classes at UW Bothell taught me to connect ideas and recognize the variety of perspectives needed to truly understand an issue or solve a problem,” says Calkins. “Choosing the IAS program was one of the best career and personal decisions I've ever made.”