New Librarian Takes Unexpected Path to CSUSM
By Tim Meehan
When Sean Visintainer went looking to fill a library position in his role as head of special collections and archives at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley last year, he stumbled across a job listing at Cal State San Marcos.
The listing was for a head of special collections, and he simply went searching for inspiration for writing a job description in order to fill the open role.
The description on CSUSM’s website intrigued him personally and professionally, so despite never having been to Southern California, he himself applied. When he came out west for an interview, he was astounded.
“Upon my visit for the interview I was struck by how beautiful the region is,” Visintainer said. “The hills and mountains, the ocean, the climate, everything – it is stunning here. The campus is of course very beautiful as well, and throughout my interview I was impressed with the culture of the library, which is a culture of caring. The folks that work at the library are extremely committed to student success and proud of the work that they are doing, and this showed in every interaction I had while interviewing.”
It was a perfect match. Visintainer has been the CSUSM library’s head of special collections since the end of the 2019 spring semester.
The special collections unit at CSUSM’s library is a new unit that Visintainer was hired to help set up. It’s not starting from scratch, however, as the library already has some impressive special collections. Among them are the Ecke Family Collection, which tells the story of the locally owned family business that grew and sold poinsettias, and the Brewchive, which works to preserve the history of the craft brewing industry in San Diego County.
“Although small in number, our collections are deep and broad, covering a lot of range in terms of time and geography,” said Visintainer, who moved to San Diego with his nearly 2-year-old daughter Isabel and wife Susie, who is working remotely as the assessment librarian at UTRGV. “We also have the North County Times negatives – a collection of, conservatively, at least 150,000 negatives that were taken by Daniel Flores Rios, a photographer. These negatives are really interesting as they are a visual representation of North County from the 1960s to early 2000s. There’s great imagery in this collection –development and construction, local life and culture, and much, much more.”
Visintainer’s bachelor’s degree is in creative writing, and he had a career as a professional chef before changing gears and earning a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
His creative approach to his current position will only help the library grow as a key source of learning and culture on campus.
“The new unit houses these collections and will certainly grow to many more regionally and historically important collections in the future,” Visintainer said. “For future collecting, we’ll be collecting resources that fall under our collecting guidelines: materials that are scarce, rare or unique that have to do with North County San Diego’s culture and history. Another important job of special collections institutions is to create materials as well. With digitization changing the way libraries function, we can create materials like the aforementioned oral histories and make them available to the world via the internet, which is a really enjoyable part of the job.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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