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Careers in History: Libraries & Archives

Libby Scripps-Hoekstra ('07)

Liaison librarian, GVSU

When did you graduate, what was your major and minor, and what are you doing now?

After graduating in 2007 with a history major and geography minor, I moved to Yuma, Arizona, to teach high school history. In a large and under-funded high school, providing my students with access to the school library’s resources was particularly frustrating. On the rare occasion when I was able to book the computer lab for a research assignment, I realized that my students were information illiterate and our time was ill-spent. After three years of teaching, I decided to switch careers to become an academic librarian with the hope of helping students (particularly those from a disadvantaged background) navigate the difficult terrain of college-level research. In 2012, I received my master’s in library and information science from Dominican University.

I currently work at Grand Valley State University as a liaison librarian to the Area Studies and Religious Studies departments. My position centers on providing research instruction for students in these courses and building the print/electronic collections. I also work with new freshman, teaching them research skills necessary for success. As a member of the faculty, I am able to pursue research and scholarship in the field of library science.

Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin? Why did you choose your minor?

I have always loved history and had known for some time that I wanted to become a history teacher (even though I didn’t end up as one!). I chose geography as a minor because I really enjoyed a Cultural Geography course I had taken early on.

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?

My experience as a history major reinforced the importance of effectively evaluating sources. This critical evaluative skill forms the core of information literacy and is what I teach students at GVSU. Additionally, I work with faculty who teach history courses in my liaison areas and it is incredibly valuable to understand their research needs and student assignments.

What are some of your memories of the Calvin history department?

I particularly enjoyed Dan Miller’s History of Mexico class and used several of his ideas for simulations and games when I taught the same class in Arizona. Robert Schoone-Jongen also played a pivotal role in shaping my understanding of effective teaching in secondary education.

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

If you love history, do not assume you need to become a teacher. There are many great additional career opportunities available for history majors outside of the secondary educational setting. I never thought I would become a librarian, but my history background prepared me for a multitude of possibilities.    


 

Emily HamstraEmily Hamstra

Librarian at the University of Michigan

I’m a librarian at the University of Michigan, Shapiro Undergraduate Library. I absolutely love my job. I work on the reference desk and answer questions over chat reference. I purchase books for the Undergrad Library in the areas of British and American Literature and Fine Arts. I also maintain our leisure reading collection. I’m part of a committee that manages electronic humanities and general reference resources. A few times a week classes will come in to the library to learn about different resources available at the library. I often teach these sessions. I also work with other librarians at the Undergraduate Library to plan events for the library, including a series of ruckus Banned Books Week events.

Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin?

I became a History major because I was an English major and I kept writing History papers for my English classes. When an English professor pointed this out to me, I decided to take a History class. I took American History 1945- Present with Professor Du Mez, and it blew my mind, so I added a History major. I ended up majoring in both History and English.

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?

My history background comes in handy often when I’m working at the reference desk. History is very interdisciplinary. Having a history background often helps when I’m helping a student look for books and articles on sociology, political science, gender studies, philosophy, art, literature, culture, and of course history.

What are some of your memories of the Calvin History department?

Professor de Vries took our Ancient History class to the Field Museum in Chicago. It was great!

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in librarianship: ehamstra@umich.edu


 

Graduate school

Many Calvin History graduates go on for advanced degrees. Here are some of the schools that recent History graduates have attended.

Boston College
Calvin Theological Seminary
Clemson University
Cornell University Law School
Davenport University
Fuller Theological Seminary
Grand Valley State University
Johns Hopkins University
Marquette University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Pepperdine University
Purdue University
SUNY College at Binghamton
Thomas M. Cooley Law School
University of Cincinnati
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
University of Wales
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
University of Western Ontario
Wayne State University
Western Michigan University
Western Theological Seminary
Wheaton College – Illinois
Yale University