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‘Everything remains fresh and interesting’

By July 16, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments

Ellen Engseth, Curator of the Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head of Migration and Social Services Collections, recently was awarded continuous appointment (similar to tenure). This is one of a series spotlighting the librarians who received promotions in 2020.

Ellen Engseth

Ellen Engseth

What are a couple of things you have accomplished that contributed to your receiving the promotion?

A clear professional mission, published articles and a book chapter, and professional service all contributed to this promotion.

How and when did you decide on pursuing a career in libraries?

After college, I was volunteering in museums and had the good fortune of being placed in the museum’s archives. I became very interested in historical primary sources there, and began to learn more about library and archives as a profession.

Where did you begin your libraries’ career?

I began as a student worker and intern during graduate school, at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Libraries.

How long have you been at the U?

Six years.

In your opinion, has the profession or your specialty in it changed over the years?

Things change in terms of operations, practice, and some perspective. Yet the core mission, to select, share, and preserve reliable sources for education remains true — and remains our strength.

When you look back at your path so far, have you had any surprises?

The surprise is how quickly time passes, and how long I have been doing what I have been doing — yet it seems like just a few years ago I was a new professional. In many ways, due to new opportunities and this changing landscape mentioned above, everything remains fresh and interesting.

When you introduce yourself to a new person as a librarian, what is the first thing most people say?

Most people say, “Oh, how interesting” followed by “I love libraries!”

Do you have a favorite library building or location (not limited to the U, can be here or anywhere else)? If so, makes it your favorite?


A view from the library in Dalkeith, Scotland. Photo by Ellen Engseth.

My favorite library (in addition to our Andersen Library!) is in a former country house near Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the library for college students who now live and learn at the house.

Once full of first editions, and now textbooks and paperbacks, the beautiful view of an 18th-century bridge designed by architect Robert Adams continues to draw people into the space, to enjoy a library.

—Allison Campbell-Jensen


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