Alum Elena Nipper Finds Job as Theological Librarian

Nipper graduated from SLIS in 2008 and recently landed a job as a reference and instruction librarian at the rank of assistant professor at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif. She earned her master’s degree in Religion from Vanguard in 1999.

“When I started the MLIS program, I was excited about the breadth of possibilities that the degree offers,” she said. “Librarianship is an ever-changing and dynamic profession.”

Theological librarianship stems from a variety of different religious traditions and denominations, and focuses on theology, religious studies, and religious bibliography.

In June 2009, Nipper was awarded a travel grant by the American Theological Library Association to attend their annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. During the event, she met scholars who “exemplify the best of the profession and who feel theological librarianship is not simply a career path, but a call to service to their communities,” she said. “This diverse and ecumenical conference had a unique feel—collaborative, supportive, intimate, welcoming, and lacking the highly competitive nature which can characterize professional conferences.”

In addition to discovering theological librarianship, Nipper was introduced to the role of the academic library as a vehicle for social change through her SLIS classes. She credits her instructors for inspiring a vision for what SLIS graduates can do both on a local and global scale. She cites Ann Riedling’s Instructional Strategies class, which “focused on the role of information literacy and education on a worldwide scale and modeled the librarian’s role in this arena,” as well as Todd Gilman’s History of Books and Libraries class, which “led students on a philosophical journey” of bibliographic history and development.

“Librarianship has given me a renewed sense of vocation. I look forward to continuing to serve the Vanguard community in this new capacity, as well as identifying other opportunities for service throughout the world,” she said.