Staff profile: Alberto Embriz-Salgado


In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.

Who he is: Alberto Embriz-Salgado ‘14, interior and graphic designer-in-residence for Olin and Uris Libraries

What he does: I mainly design and create exhibitions, but I also handle related print and web media, and (because of my background in art and architecture) have also done some interior design work upgrading study lounges and creating both permanent and temporary art installations. This is a new position that was made possible by the generosity of alumnus Rajeev Bhaman, who funded my employment.

Why it’s important: Most of the time, people come to libraries to study what they have already learned. I see my job as promoting the libraries as a learning experience itself. The exhibitions, for example, can really foster an interest in new and diverse topics. So, through these and other projects, I've endeavored to make Olin and Uris ever so slightly more tantalizing.

Education: I just graduated with a bachelor of Architecture and a minor in Design and Environment Analysis. In the fall, I’ll begin a master's degree in Landscape Architecture at Harvard.

Where he comes from: I was born in Gainesville, Florida. When I was five, my family and I moved to Mexico, so the part of my childhood I remember most fondly was spent in a small city two hours north of Mexico City. We lived there for eight years, after which my family returned to the U.S., to Georgia. Throughout these transitions, English and Spanish came and went, and I didn't fully learn one before engaging the other. Exposure to these settings fueled a desire to be understanding and appreciative of different perspectives.

Background: I decided I wanted to be an architect when I was seven. I really liked math and art, but in my seven-year-old mind, I wasn’t a genius (so I couldn't be a mathematician) and I wanted to be financially independent (so I couldn't be an artist). I settled upon my perceived happy medium: architecture.

In terms of why I wanted to come to Cornell: I wanted to experience the Northeast. I had never seen snow. I also wanted to live in a place very close to nature, and Ithaca was perfect. The gorges, trees, waterfalls... such a fantastic milieu!

What he’s most proud of: While I really love the ”Siege of Cranes” installation I made for the New Student Reading Project on “When the Emperor Was Divine,” I am quite proud of ARTery, a permanent installation in Olin Library's Lower Level. It was a large undertaking to paint six lyrical abstraction/color field paintings of such size, especially during my thesis semester when I had to balance many other commitments. However, I hadn't painted in a long time, so it was relaxing activity I fit in at late hours. Ultimately, the great positive feedback made it all worth it!

Most memorable moment: I am an ambitious person. And as such, I often have ambitious projects (more than I can sometimes handle). “Siege of Cranes” was a temporary installation of 1,000 lighted origami cranes in Uris Library. So, as the deadline was approaching, I was thinking to myself that I was probably in way over my head — but my supervisor, Susette, and two fellow staff members, Ada and Jill, said, "Don't worry, Alberto, we will help you!" Sometimes work environments don't foster a caring and inclusive culture, but in the Library, it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so excited and willing to help! I didn't know what to say. I'm so grateful.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget that even some amazing students took it upon themselves to fold several dozen cranes! When a project materializes by that spirit which it is supposed to represent (in this case, harmony and cooperation), it's such a wonderful thing.

I was also really excited to be one of five recipients of the William F. Fuerst '39 Outstanding Library Employee Award. I was quite honored to be chosen for this prestigious award despite my relatively short time working for the Library.

Best part of his job: I have a lot of creative independence. It’s always fun trying to come up with different designs and ideas and overall improving the aesthetic composition of the libraries. This ability to create and come up with something new and innovative keeps my job interesting. There’s always something new to do, and that’s exciting!

In his spare time: Since I have a very busy schedule, I don’t have much spare time, but I do enjoy sleep! And I’m a rather visual person, so much in the same way as people really like food or music, I really like going the cinema and watching films — indulging the eyes. 

Dream job: In addition to design, anything that would allow me to travel extensively. I love learning through exposure to new cultures. I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel quite frequently while at Cornell, and I have an insatiable appetite for those novel experiences and certainly wish to continue!