This is 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 “The Stacks” category.
What is your background?
I’m a native Virginian, born and raised in Petersburg. Way back when I was in elementary and middle school, we took field trips constantly, so I learned all about the history of Petersburg and can tell you about the places you have to see when playing tourist. I’m a proud Hokie, majored in Family and Child Development and Sociology. I still enjoy going to Blacksburg to visit and go to football games.
How do you explain what you do to others?
In the simplest terms, I manage the staff that helps visitors/patrons access the collections of The Library of Virginia. In more detail, we provide service with a smile while helping patrons with a little bit of everything, including how to register for or renew a library card or online account, loaning, renewing and returning books, how to borrow materials from another library (interlibrary loan), how to request a book from our closed stacks, how to locate and use microfilm and how to print or copy what you’ve found. We routinely answer the same questions over and over, but are sometimes surprised by what people are searching for or how excited they are when we help them find it.
Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?
I started out as a Library Assistant, moved up to Circulation Specialist, served as Temporary Stacks Manager and Circulation Manager and am currently Access Services Manager. Our division has gone through several reincarnations and several people have come and gone during my time here, but I’m still in the same division I started in (just in a different building than when I started), working with some of my favorite people.
How has technology affected your current job?
We are constantly adjusting to new technology. When I first started at the Library, we had just gone from a physical card catalog to using the online catalog that Virginia Tech was using, VTLS (which gave me a foot in the door). We upgraded that system several times before switching to a different catalog and our last upgrade in June 2019 was to our current system, ALMA. Each time there is a change or upgrade, we have to learn how to do things differently and then assist our patrons in adjusting to the changes. In addition, as new collections or databases are added or upgraded, we have to learn how to use them so that we can instruct our patrons on how to best locate the information they need whether they are a novice or an experienced user.
Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.
My best day at the Library, that’s hard to say. I’m what some would call an extroverted introvert, I love working alone getting my tasks completed in an orderly fashion but sometimes I love working with people too. So my best day would start with me getting some things crossed off of my “to do” list, and would end with me helping someone break through a brick wall in their genealogy research or helping them find that newspaper article about their scoring 25 points in a basketball game, their senior year of high school, in their local newspaper. I love helping people find that one thing that advances their research or makes them happy.
What was your first paid job?
My first paid job was a digitizer for the USDA. It was my summer job, before my freshman year. I worked for the Geology Department at Virginia Tech and digitized maps of rivers and streams in Southwest Virginia for the United States Department of Agriculture. That summer job also took me on a fieldtrip to one of the quarries where they mined “Hokie Stone.” That job also ignited my interest in geology.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
People would be surprised (or maybe not) that I love crossword puzzles and playing Scrabble. I always play to win, so none of my family members will play Scrabble with me. I’m forced to play online or against the computer. The best feeling is when I can use all my tiles on one play; even better is when it’s a double or triple word score.