Currently an institutional archivist for The J. Paul Getty Trust, the world's largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts, class of ’08 alumna Sara Seltzer began her career as a UCR Library student employee in Special Collections and University Archives.
“I’ll never forget when I got that job,” Seltzer said. “I came home that day and told my parents about it and my dad was like, ‘This is the start of your career!’ And I said, ‘I guess it is!’”
From a young age, Seltzer’s family instilled a love of history and literature into her life. “My mom in particular is a huge history buff and culture fiend,” she said. “Growing up we always went to museums, we always did lots of cultural things. I had influential people who exposed me to the kinds of environments where archives live.”
Her grandmother was a Cuban refugee who later worked in the corporate library for Southern California Edison, which also inspired Seltzer’s career goals. “That was her favorite job,” she explained.
Her academic studies at UC Riverside focused on European history and art history, while at the library Seltzer felt most passionate about working with archives tied to British history. “I’m a huge Anglophile, so that was exciting,” she said of working with the Ann Harris correspondence in 2009, among other projects for Special Collections and University Archives.
As a student employee, she appreciated the autonomy that her supervisors gave her, as it helped to build confidence in her own judgment and critical thinking skills. “Since I knew this was the path that I wanted, I was very thankful for that job and I took it very seriously,” she explained. “It was a bit unusual for student workers to be given that responsibility, but when it’s the right student worker, they get a lot out of it.”
Seltzer believes that library student employees can reap more long-term benefits than students at most typical entry-level jobs. “The library is so much more than just people working with books,” she explained. “There’s a huge demand for people with programming skills in this field, people who understand digital technologies, user experience designers. This is an opportunity to gain professional experience and to find a career path. It’s a viable field and it’s growing all the time.”
After graduation, Seltzer remained at the library until 2009 for an internship supervised by Manuel Urrizola, Head of Metadata & Technical Services. “He was very inspiring. He took me under his wing,” she commented. “He taught me all the basics of cataloging before I even started library school.” After graduating from UCLA with a MLIS in Archival Studies, Seltzer eventually moved to her current position where she is responsible for managing the current and historic business records of the J. Paul Getty Museum.
“I’m still working and doing what I always wanted to do,” Seltzer reflected. “I’m really happy with this path that I’ve been put on. It all pretty much began here, so I’m really grateful to UCR Library for giving me my start.”
The UCR Library is committed to enhancing the student learning experience, which includes supporting the professional development and advancement of our student employees. This article is the second in a series of stories following the success of former UCR Library student employees. We are incredibly proud of the alumni talent that was cultivated here, at the UCR Library.