To celebrate National Library Week 2023, we are introducing readers to four staff members who work behind the scenes at the Internet Archive, helping connect patrons with our collections, services and programs.
If there’s an event at the Internet Archive, there’s a good chance Caitlin Olson had her hand in it. And with about 80 events last year, including 40 in-person, that keeps her plenty busy.
“I’m a helper by nature and my role involves wearing a lot of hats,” said Olson, senior executive assistant for seven years.
While not a librarian by training, Olson said she enjoys supporting librarians and their work. Olson provides support for webinars online and parties at the Internet Archive’s headquarters in San Francisco. She also assists Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle in his work, helps staff with IT issues (including migrating to remote work during the pandemic), and pinch hits when needed.
“I’m the go-to person for most questions because if I don’t know the answer, I likely know who will,” Olson said, who prefers working behind-the-scenes and is known as a fixer who keeps a calm head. “Brewster says I help soothe the organization. I often can jump in and solve a problem.”
After graduating from high school in a small town in northern California, Olson said she gravitated to the Bay Area for college, so has both the “country mouse” and “city mouse” experience. After a stint in journalism, she was drawn to the Internet Archive. “I wanted to work for a place where people felt passionate about what they were doing—and I found that here,” Olson said.
What’s an aspect of your job that you especially like?
I work with our ceramicist who creates all of our statues for the Archive. Fun Fact: after you work here for three years, you get a statue made in your likeness (if you want).
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on at the Internet Archive?
Our annual Public Domain Day events and the book talks we host in collaboration with The Booksmith.
Favorite collection at the Internet Archive?
The Attention K-Mart Shoppers collection
What are you reading?
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach, which is about what happens when animals commit crimes, and From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, which is a book that explores death-care in different cultures and it’s written by a badass mortician.