This is a series introducing LVA employees and exploring what they do day-to-day. 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”.
Sue La Paro
What is your background?
I have worked in many kinds of libraries, starting as the first systems librarian at Old Dominion University and most recently working as the Manager of Youth Services for the York County Public Library for 16 years. In between, I worked as a law librarian at William and Mary and a school media specialist in York County. I obtained my MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and have a BA in English and a JD from the College of William and Mary. In my free time, I like to read, bake, knit, watch college football and basketball, and travel (last big trip was to Scotland just before COVID hit).
I grew up in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, on Sunnyside Avenue, which I think helped form my optimistic personality. I have lived in Williamsburg for over 30 years and have three adult children, a son in Denver, and a son and a daughter and their dogs currently living with me. I considered moving to Richmond, but I would really miss the Colonial Williamsburg lambs.
How do you explain what you do to others?
I provide comprehensive consulting services and offer support and training to public libraries to facilitate high quality services for children, teens, and families in the areas of school readiness and summer and out-of-school programs. I also cultivate partnerships with other organizations on statewide literacy projects. Some of my favorite current projects are Dial a Story and nature backpacks.
Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?
This is my first position at the Library of Virginia.
How has technology affected your current job?
Technology has reduced the number of paper files I keep and helps me stay organized. A great benefit of technology during COVID was that I was able to “attend” virtual story times and other programs around the state. It was a great way to stay connected to youth services staff and see their dedication and creativity. We also started a monthly youth services virtual jam session so I get to talk to youth services people in Virginia, hear what they are doing, and provide a forum where they can share.
Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.
There is no typical day, which is part of what I love. A great day is a mixture of interacting with people, both inside and outside of the Library, working creatively on a project, writing, and organizing something. I enjoy the variety of my job and helping youth staff in Virginia serve the public well. I also find rewarding the building of relationships with other people and organizations that work with children, like the Science Museum of Virginia and No Kid Hungry.
What was your first paid job?
My first paid job (after babysitting) was working at National Shirt Shop at the local mall. The manager was a poet and spent his time in the back room writing poetry, so his high school employees got to run the store. I really enjoyed putting together shirt and tie combinations for displays and helping customers.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
Some people might know I love to bake. What might surprise them is that I bake 7-10 gingerbread houses every December for a long-standing family tradition of decorating. We have been doing it over 25 years! We start planning our themes and gathering candy and other edible treats in the summer. Last year I put together a PowerPoint presentation of my last ten years of houses for a virtual family talent show (yes, we do those, too).