Kirsten manages and selects materials for the Russian and East European collections at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. She also provides research, reference, and instructional support for faculty, students, and staff engaged in Russian and East European Studies.
Kirsten’s scholarly research focuses on illustrated children’s books, the relationship between poetry and the visual arts, and modernism in Russia and Western Europe. Her book, “Flint on a Bright Stone: A Revolution of Precision and Restraint in American, Russian, and German Modernism” (Stanford University Press), examines poetic movements of the early twentieth century, especially the works of Anna Akhmatova, H.D., William Carlos Williams, and Rainer Maria Rilke. She has also contributed entries to the “Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.”
Prior to joining Penn libraries, Kirsten worked as Special Collections & Digital Humanities Librarian at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, served as a digital collections intern at the Seattle Art Museum Bullitt Library, and held student positions at the University of Washington (Slavic Division Acquisitions, Special Collections, Built Environments Library). She also taught undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at New York University and Columbia University (in Russian Literature, Comparative Literature, and Russian Language), and served for several years as the head librarian at Odyssey, an elementary school on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Within librarianship, her specialties are Russian studies, children’s literature, rare books, digital humanities, and exhibition design. She has created exhibits (digital and physical) on children's books, architecture, and landscape design, in addition to ArcGIS StoryMaps on Russian poetry and other topics. She attended the Slavic Library Institute at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria.
Kirsten received her PhD in Russian Literature from Columbia University, her MLIS from the University of Washington, and her BA in Comparative Literature and Russian Studies from Oberlin College. Kirsten is also a writer of fiction and poetry.