Interview With UCSD Library Staff: Kate Saeed

Staff members at the renowned Geisel Library at UC San Diego are integral in keeping our campus running, and each individual is an important and interesting part of the UCSD community. In order to learn more about the staff here at UCSD, I spoke with Kate Saeed  about her job and her life at UCSD and in San Diego. Saeed is a Manuscripts Processor for the Special Collections & Archives within Geisel Library. Special Collections & Archives holds a wide variety of resources: manuscripts, rare books, UCSD archives, Scripps Institution of Oceanography archives and many other unique or primary source materials. Special Collections is a great resource for students to do research on poetry, anthropology, past UCSD faculty, and much more! Saeed uses her research expertise in order to prepare collections for use and make them easily accessible for researchers.

Working for UCSD is a great way to get involved in a multitude of activities. When asked why she enjoys working for the University, Saeed explained, “I like attending cultural events that the university offers and taking classes whenever I can. I’ve attended many concerts, lectures and plays during my 10-plus years here and have taken several classes, from conversational Russian, to improv acting, to screenwriting, to classical guitar.”

“I learn something new every day, whether it’s a new word, a new language, a place on a map or different way to describe something,” Saeed said. Through my own interactions with other students, I have observed that not everyone knows about the resources that Special Collections offers. In fact, Saeed uses library resources herself and explained, “Since I help create them, I look at our online Manuscripts & Archives finding aids quite a lot. That’s probably what I look at the most. But information can come from lots of different resources: our online catalog “Roger,” the Digital Library Collection, and the Online Archive of California.”

In order to further show the personality behind the individuals in this department, I asked why she enjoys working in the archives. “It’s a good profession for someone who likes to organize other people’s stuff and who is interested in multiple topics. Actually, I’m very curious by nature, so if I wasn’t working in a Special Collections library I probably would be outside observing lemurs or something,” Saeed said.

While talking to a library staff member, I had to ask about favorite books. “I have lots of favorite books, so it would be really hard to pick just one. A few I’ve read recently are: Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library and Norwegian Wood, Julian Barnes’s The Only Story, Talking it Over and Love, etc., Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name … Kafka’s letters, anything Margaret Atwood, Francine Prose or Kazuo Ishiguro,” Saeed said. I also noticed that Saeed’s desk and cubicle are nicely decorated, and she cheerfully told me about her favorite things in her workspace. “I have a lot of favorite pencils and pens. The right pencil or pen can really help get you through the day. I have a floaty pen from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. It has a miniature gondola that floats back and forth.” Working in San Diego is also great for Saeed’s love of nature. She said, “San Diego is obviously great for outdoors activities — hiking, cycling, walking on the beach or going to Balboa Park. I guess my favorite thing is when I see a different kind of bird or lizard or beetle that I haven’t seen before.”  

Talking with Saeed was a great insight into the life and interests of library staff. Students can visit Special Collections in the Geisel library or browse their available collections and materials online. UCSD is a great community of staff, students, and faculty who work hard every day to create a unique and successful university environment.