Staff Spotlight: Jay Sylvestre

Jay Sylvestre in a crab hat made from paper
  • Name, job title, and location: Jay Sylvestre, Curator of Rare Books, Booth Family Center for Special Collections
  • What do you do—in 10 words or less? Collect unique and rare books for research and teaching.
  • Where are you from? Originally I’m from Levittown, Pennsylvania, one of the first planned American suburbs, but prior to Georgetown I lived in Hollywood, Florida, for eight years, and before that, I was in Anchorage, Alaska for a few years.
  • Do you have any hobbies? I spend a lot of time paper cutting. I generally work in two dimensions, often in silhouette or simple designs, but I love to make low-polygon masks for costumes (see my crab hat from Halloween 2022) and I’ll occasionally make layered topographical maps. I once layered 52 sheets of paper to make a topographical map of the peak of Denali. I also love to make ice cream and enjoy challenging my colleagues to request unusual flavors. Recent favorites include: bubblegum, cotton candy, and parmesan ice creams.
  • What are you reading/watching/playing/listening to/learning right now? I’m watching the latest season of Doom Patrol. I have no idea how such an absurd show continues to surprise week after week, but I highly recommend it. I’m listening to the audiobook for Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor and just finished The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin (occasionally so wickedly funny that I was laughing on the Metro). I’ve been considering a replay of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before the sequel comes out later this year.
  • If you didn’t work in your current field, what would you be doing? There was a period before I started working in archives that I was considering a career in amusement park management. I spent my high school and college summers working at Sesame Place (a children's park based on Sesame Street). Working as an amusement park janitor really proved handy for acquiring important life skills, not the least of which was memorizing all the lyrics to every Sesame Street song up to 2005. After college I was pursuing a full time park manager position, I think I might’ve kept working there if I didn’t find library work.