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Congratulations to Paula Gaetos, Our New Programming & Student Engagement Librarian

by Chris Daley on 2024-04-09T16:40:00-07:00 in Library News | 0 Comments

A woman with long brown hair and glasses in a white shirt in front of a tiled wall

The Caltech Library is happy to announce that, as of April 8, Paula Gaetos is our new Programming and Student Engagement Librarian! 

Paula joined Caltech Library in 2018 as Information Services Generalist Assistant, previously working as a library clerk at school and public libraries. During her time at the Library, Paula has made significant contributions to the TechHub, the Library's Events & Programming Committee, and Library signage. In December 2022, she completed her master’s degree in library and information science from San Jose State University. We are pleased that she agreed to answer some questions about her new role.

1) Congratulations on your new position, Paula! Could you give us an introduction to what a Programming & Student Engagement Librarian does?

Thanks! I’m really grateful and honored to take on this new role at the Library. A Programming & Student Engagement Librarian is responsible for developing and implementing library programming and events that support our students’ engagement and success at Caltech, particularly for our undergraduate and historically underrepresented students. 

It can be events like our Outdoor Movie Nights or Craft-a-Mole for Mole Day that provide a space to hang out and decompress with other students. It can also be developing outreach initiatives, like tabling at campus events or hosting workshops, to help demystify accessing and utilizing library resources so our students are well equipped to reach their learning and research goals. 

2) What are some of the developments in the Library that created the need for this new position?

The biggest development in the Library was formalizing our mission statement and strategic plan. By expressing our values and commitment to inclusive practices and prioritizing campus partnership and collaborations, it generated the momentum to develop initiatives that reflected those statements. 

So in 2021, when our students and campus community returned to campus in full capacity, we picked up on the need for everyone to acclimate and reconnect with campus resources and with each other. This led to the formation of the Events and Programming Committee. Since then, we've been developing and assessing what library events and programming were implemented before and how to redevelop them to suit our students’ current needs in order to foster belonging and familiarity, like the TechHub open house or creating cultural heritage celebratory displays. We happily saw an overall increase in library resource usage and a number of first-time participants in library events as a result, especially from undergraduates. 

With such a positive response and growing interest in its development, it was clear this kind of outreach was an integral part of our Library services and required a dedicated role. 

3) What will a day in the life of the Programming & Student Engagement Librarian look like?

We’re just getting started, so I can’t really say for sure what would be typical, but I anticipate my workload involves a lot of planning ahead. So my day may simply start with staring at a four-month white board calendar and the annual events calendar to see what needs to be prepared for upcoming events. 

It could mean connecting with the undergraduate office about their anticipated plans for next year’s new student welcome week or prepping “outreach boxes,” which are simply the mailboxes we fill with outreach materials, like flyers, stickers, and free pencils to bring to tabling events, like the DiscoTech resource fair happening this month. 

4) You've previously been the co-chair of the Events and Programming Committee. What are some lessons that you've learned in that leadership position that you can bring to this new role? 

The most important lesson was to allow space to say no and adapt to that boundary. EPCOM is a small and mighty team who found themselves at one point creating and participating in at least five events per term. When we laid out an annual events calendar that anticipated regular events like Ditch Day or holidays, like Lunar New Year, it’s possible to have up to ten events per term. April itself has #Gaypril, National Library Week, and Earth Week in addition to 3MT, DiscoTech, and Grad Student Appreciation Week. 

It'll be easy to be ambitious and participate in all of them simply because this work is truly interesting and a well-done event is fun and satisfying to put together. It’s also a way to burn out a team’s energy and engagement in the long run. 

By allowing the space to assess, prioritize, and delegate which events we participate in—being able to say no—we’re able to keep the creative energy to develop something new or improve on what we’ve done before. 

5) What will you be able to do with programming and student engagement now that you can give them your full attention?

The Library absolutely has a role to play in creating a safe and engaging campus to support our students academically and holistically. So my hope is that we’re able to formalize our signature programming and events that center the Library as a third space for our campus community. 

In addition, my biggest challenge is to be able to measure the Library’s impact and value to our students during their years here at Caltech. So as part of formalizing signature programming and events, I want to focus on creating programming assessments so we can document and communicate that impact in a really meaningful way. 

6) What are some things we can look forward to in the future of Caltech Library events and programming?

In the short-term, newer and different free snack options during Stress Free Library events. I would love to get more of our students’ opinions on what they like to snack on while studying. 

In the long-term, I really look forward to working with everyone in the Library to brainstorm utilizing all our Library spaces to host events, like the maker projects at the TechHub. I also really hope to connect more with other departments on campus for future events, especially for New Student Welcome Week.

You can reach Paula at

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