This is an entry in our series introducing LVA employees and exploring what they do day-to-day. If you are interested in what goes on behind the scenes, entries in this series are collected under the tag 7 Questions. Other entries discussing the internal work of the Library of Virginia are filed under our new category “The Stacks”.

Mary Clark

Mary Clark

Acquisitions & Access Management Director

What is your background?

I have a BA in International Relations from Roanoke College in Salem, VA, and an MS in Library Science from UNC–Chapel Hill. I just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. I met my husband when he asked me a reference question.

How do you explain what you do to others?

I usually say that I’m the head of cataloging, acquisitions, and government publications for LVA. When I’m talking to librarians or archivists, I’m pretty quick to explain that I am NOT a cataloger.

Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?

I started out in Reference, then became State Publications Librarian, where I grew the government information staff to five people. We managed the state documents depository program and federal documents depository program. We soon became the Government Documents Department and staffed the Government Documents Reading Room six days a week for five years. With a precipitous decline in on-site documents reference queries we stopped staffing the documents room daily. At the time, LVA’s Technical Services Department and Government Documents Department had 28 staff members combined. Then, following a number of layoffs, resignations, and retirements, the Government Documents department merged with Technical Services, and changed its name to Acquisitions and Access Management. Thus, here I am. We now operate with a nimble and overworked staff of nine.

How has technology affected your current job?

See above. Internet access to government publications has fundamentally changed how people access government information, and for the better. They no longer need a mediator to track down current government publications, and even long running publications such as the Federal Register and Congressional Record are freely available in their entirety through the Government Publishing Office and other agencies. Government information specialists are needed to curate and promote collections, and to guide researchers to those materials that are less accessible or more specialized. The Government Publishing Office and the Federal Depository Library Program continue to make sure that government information remains freely available. The State Publications Depository Program is now nearly entirely digital, and LVA maintains a repository for digital Virginia government publications. However, acquiring, cataloging, and promoting library collections of all types, whether digital or print, remains a high-touch proposition.

On the other side of the office, cataloging and acquisitions are both technology based, and the movement to linked data, BIBFRAME and other web-based standards and information access philosophies will continue to affect our workflows and processes, which will help our patrons find the information they seek.

Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.

I get to work and check my email. Then, I spend the rest of the day organizing, managing, and problem solving. It could be monitoring my budget, working with vendors, tracking down misplaced materials, or answering a tough reference question referred from staff. I could be checking on material in the stacks, working with accounting, or doing committee work for the Depository Library Council or LVA. I could be organizing a cross-department project, and making sure the work is done.

In other words, my best day is when I do 50 things for 10 minutes each.

What was your first paid job?

Telephone solicitor selling magazines. Let’s just say that didn’t last long.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?

I lived in a convent (briefly) in high school.

Leave a Reply