This is the latest blog entry in a series introducing LVA employees and exploring what they do on a day-to-day basis. If you are interested in these glimpses behind the scenes, you’ll find all entries in this series collected under the tag 7 Questions.
What is your background?
For more than thirty years, I have worked in a variety of roles within museums and libraries, all of which have involved working with remarkable collections, inspiring communities, and committed colleagues.
Beginning with my first job out of college, each position has primarily focused on the preservation and management of historic visual materials. Over the years, that has included New York Public Library (Specialist in the U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy Division), New-York Historical Society (Curator of Photographs), and the Museum of Sex (a founding staff member and Chief Archivist).
Museum of Sex on the resume always generates the most interesting questions!
How do you explain what you do to others?
It depends on the audience.
I usually start by saying that I work in Special Collections, and that I am responsible for the visual materials. I then define visual material by medium: prints, photographs, architectural drawings, ephemera, and the paintings and sculpture in the State Art Collection.
For those who appear attentive, I elaborate on the wide range of collection responsibilities, from acquisitions to research, public service, conservation, cataloging, and exhibitions.
For those who appear bored and ask, “So you just sit around and look at pictures all day?,” I roll my eyes and walk away.
Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?
I started at the Library in January 2005. My title has changed a few times, but it is the same position.
How has technology affected your current job?
Technology has transformed nearly every aspect of the job.
Nothing is acquired, processed, or made available to the public without digital technology now being an integral part of the process. Although the speed of change sometimes feels daunting, new technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity for access to the Visual Studies Collection.
Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.
Every day presents new projects and reference inquiries. The best days are when you find the right images or the right answers for a patron.
What was your first paid job?
I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My first paid job was picking cantaloupes and sweet corn for a local farmer. I was sixteen years old, and I hated every minute of it.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
One fact that amazes (and sometimes amuses) people is that as an adult I owned a large pet pig. Her name was Bertha, and she lived to be twelve years old. Bertha weighed over 800 pounds.