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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Driven by a passion for literature, SBCC’s new librarian flourishes

Jenna McMahon
Selina Portera, the new library resident photographed on Nov. 22 in the Luria Library at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. She recently got her Masters in Library and Information Studies.

From dancing the bachata to rearranging books in the Luria Library, Selina Portera does it all. She is City College’s new resident librarian and has a multitude of experiences working in libraries. 

According to Portera, she has always been a hard worker and began working full-time when she was 17. When she was studying at Moorpark College, she was working a 40-hour workweek and taking classes at the same time. Eventually, trying to balance everything became an issue for her. However, she credits the community college system for allowing her to take her time and supporting her while she worked. 

“I have a soft spot for community colleges because I’ve seen all the good work that is done by everyone involved,” Portera said. 

Portera began working as a resident librarian at City College as of early October and she says that she can’t wait to learn more. Her experience in the library and her passion for reading began when she was a little girl. 

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“Growing up it was always a safe space to be in,” the excited librarian said. “I love browsing books and I remember just being able to exist there and it’s just a relaxing space to be in.”

Her love for books began in fourth grade and her favorite series that she grew up on was “The Babysitters Club.” She related the lack of cell phones and social media while growing up to her increased interest in reading as a child and explains that it was what she did when she was “bored of TV.”

Portera’s aunt worked as a librarian for about 20 years in Michoacan, Mexico and according to Portera, they enjoy discussing the differences of working in a public library versus an academic library. 

One of Portera’s concerns is that people have a perception of academic libraries that causes students to shy away from asking for help or using the resources offered. The new librarian explained how that is something she wants to focus on during her time here. 

Not only does Portera feel as though their people don’t know enough about the library but she believes it is vital that marginalized students have the essential knowledge of the resources available. 

“I’m part of a community that is considered marginalized so I think that reaching out to those populations is hugely important,” the Los Angeles native said. “There are students that are struggling a lot and in my early life, I struggled a lot so I think that I can lend them a little bit of extra help when they need it.”

Portera said that she wants more students to know about the E-books offered in the library and hopes to spread the word. She will be teaching two different workshops in March about online research skills and infographics. 

“I’m starting to learn more about outreach and I’m trying to make connections with more student groups. I think when you form relationships and get to know who your audience is that’s how the word spreads,” the young book-lover said.  

Only working at City College for a short amount of time, she has already formed great relationships with the rest of the staff. 

“Selina is such a joy to work with and an invaluable team member. We are thrilled to have her as our Resident Librarian this year,” Librarian Sally Chuah said. 

The new librarian got her master’s degree in library and information studies and immediately jumped into the industry.

“I think I bring a fresh perspective,” Portera said. “The library is a very, very busy place and there’s always work to be done.”

Although she spends a lot of time organizing books, helping students, and sorting through material, she also loves to go out dancing. 

She says she loves all types of music but Spanish music always gets her moving. She loves salsa dancing, cumbia, and bachata. 

“It’s something I do now to unwind and destress and I recommend it to anyone who loves to dance,” the bachata lover said.


Correction: March 8, 2023

An earlier version of this story misstated that Selina Portera is one of the youngest librarians. She is not one of the youngest librarians at City College. The Channels regrets this error.

In this correction we also reworded a sentence to better represent the truth. 

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