Staff Snapshot: Jay Satterfield


Jay Satterfield oversees the Rauner Special Collections Library, which includes rare books and manuscripts, the College archives, and objects ranging from Daniel Webster’s top hat to the original papier-mâché Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Dartmouth Now recently spoke with him about his work.

Job title: Special Collections Librarian.

How long have you worked at Dartmouth? It will be 10 years in July.

What path brought you to your field?

After majoring in anthropology, I got a job working as an archeological aid for the National Park Service. I found that I enjoyed researching the artifacts more than finding them, so I decided to pursue a master’s in library science. As a grad student I got a job working as a student assistant in special collections because I knew how to handle old things. That sealed the deal. I went on to get a PhD in American studies, specializing in the history of the book, then got my first professional job at the University of Chicago in Special Collections.

What’s at the heart of your role at Dartmouth?

Uniting amazing collections with amazing students.

What’s your favorite part of working here?

Working with the students. It is a real thrill to turn a student on to a special book or manuscript. That encounter can change the way someone thinks—in a flash. Also, the staff at Rauner is just amazing. I have never met a group of people so passionate about what they do and so eager to share it.

What surprised you about Dartmouth as you got to know the place and people?

Just how open people are to new ideas and new ways of doing things. If you have a good idea, it can be a very receptive environment.

What’s your favorite item in Rauner’s holdings?

People ask this all the time, and my answer sounds like a cop-out, but it is honest. It is the thing I need that day. I’m always trying to build the perfect class session or trying to find something for a student. When I hit the item that does the trick, it knocks me out and I just love it. When you come right down to it, everything here is cool in its own way—on different days I see the cool in different objects. That’s what makes writing for our blog so enjoyable. The thrill of the day usually becomes one of our blog posts that week.

Photos by Eli Burakian ’00.

Kelly Sundberg Seaman