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This is a blog entry in a 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”.

McKenzie Long

McKenzie Long

Local Records Archivist, Government Records Division

What is your background?

I’m originally from Conway, South Carolina, which is a town most people have never heard of that’s directly inland from Myrtle Beach. I went to the College of William and Mary as an undergraduate. During my time there, I worked as a student assistant in Swem Library’s Special Collections. That was where I got my first taste of working in archives and how I realized that this is what I wanted to do as a career. Afterwards, I attended the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill for my MLIS. While I was in graduate school, I interned at the Duke University Medical Center Archives and had the opportunity to work for the North Carolina State Archives at the Outer Banks History Center and for UNC’s Wilson Library in the Southern Folklife Collection.

How do you explain what you do to others?

It depends. Sometimes, when I’m joking, I say that I spend my day looking through local gossip. But when I want to explain my position more seriously, I say that my primary job is to conserve, arrange, and index records from localities all around Virginia so that the information preserved in those materials is accessible for researchers to explore and study, both today and in the future.

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

No, this is my first position at the Library.

How has technology affected your current job?

I feel like technology has allowed my job to have a wider reach than it would have ever had before. At one point in time, the records that I work with might only have been available to patrons who were able to physically visit the Library to view the materials in person. Now that technology has allowed our world to move more online, my job not only involves processing and arranging records but also preparing them for digitization and indexing them so that they can be searched and accessed through the internet alone.

Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.

I think my best day might have been my first day actually coming into the Library. I started my job towards the beginning of COVID, so it was really exciting to finally have a chance begin to get to know the Library, explore the stacks, and start working with our collections in person.

What was your first paid job?

I was a lifeguard at a water park when I was sixteen. Like a lot of teenagers from that area, I actually worked several very brief and very random tourism jobs for my first few working years, but lifeguarding was the very first and one of the most exciting. It’s a job where you get to do a lot of people watching, and people will act in all sorts of interesting ways when they’re on vacation.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?

I don’t know why, but people are always surprised to find out that I love all things spooky and scary—horror movies, books, podcasts, comics, you name it. I have my fingers crossed that we’ll get to have a more normal Halloween season this fall!

Vince Brooks

Local Records Program Manager

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