In this series we introduce LVA employees and explore 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”.

Sonya Coleman

Sonya Coleman

Digital Engagement & Social Media Coordinator

What is your background?

I’m from Virginia, born in Charlottesville and raised in Albemarle County, with family all across the state. At Hollins University, I double-majored in art history and psychology, both of which I still enjoy immensely. After college, I worked in an art gallery for a couple years but was lucky to transition to working in libraries. I started by processing a photograph and artifact collection at Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at UVA and got hooked on archives! When I moved to Richmond, I began working at LVA. It was a long time coming, but I am now about to start my final semester toward my Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) through Kent State University.

How do you explain what you do to others?

You know how you want everything to be online? You know how you want it all to be fully searchable and easy, like using Google? Getting there is an immense amount of work. I help build the Library’s digital collections, especially by inviting the public to participate through our crowdsourcing platforms such as Making History: Transcribe and From the Page. Exploring how those new technologies can be used in archives to both give people more access and create searchable, flexible collections is central to my role. Of course, there is no crowdsourcing without the crowd – and that means building relationships with our users and contributors, who volunteer their time to help make Virginia history accessible. Social media is another way to stay in touch with the Library’s users and share relevant information.

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

Yes, when I first started at the Library in 2011, I volunteered as an exhibitions docent and in the IT department. That led to working in IT as a Digital Collections Specialist for several years. Under the new Strategic Plan, Digital Initiatives and Web Presence branched off from IT to help us focus on some of our big goals. When Making History: Transcribe started taking up more and more of my time, my title and role changed to reflect that development. Now as the Digital Engagement & Social Media Coordinator, I spend a lot of time corresponding with users about our digital platforms, preparing LVA content for different platforms, and assisting the Marketing Committee.

How has technology affected your current job?

My job would not exist without technology. My role continues to evolve in response to technology, but it’s important to remember that humans ultimately need to be able to use and understand technology.

Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.

It’s hard to pick just one “best” experience – I like variety! – but working with our volunteer transcribers is definitely a highlight for me. Many of them are already very passionate and knowledgeable about Virginia history, but some are teenagers learning new things through interacting with these documents virtually. No matter their level of experience, I enjoy learning with our wonderful volunteers and co-creating a library and archives that is open, inclusive, and empowering.

What was your first paid job?

Babysitting was my first paid job, but if you mean one where you get a regular paycheck, then working the cash register at Michaels, the arts and crafts store. Nothing like coming home covered in glitter from stocking Christmas ornaments in July.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?

On days when I’m not working or doing online classes, I don’t turn on my computer.

Vince Brooks

Vince Brooks

Senior Local Records Archivist

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