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”.
What is your background?
In fourth grade, I wrote that I wanted to be a historian for one of those “what do you want to be when you grow up” assignments. I’m pretty sure that was because I was obsessed with the Felicity character from the American Girls book series—naturally, I had the doll and a bunch of her cool outfits and accessories. (I, like so many little girls of my generation, also dressed up as Felicity for our family’s annual Williamsburg trip/pilgrimage: see photo). It turns out that the history thing stuck, even after I outgrew dolls and dress-up.
I studied Early American/Southern history during my undergraduate years at Rice University and expanded my geographical focus to the wider British Atlantic World during graduate school at the University of Oxford and the University of Virginia. Thanks, Felicity, for all the inspiration!
How do you explain what you do to others?
I am an Education & Programs Specialist, which basically means I get to be a part of all the fun stuff we do at the Library of Virginia. We define “education” broadly here, so I am a member of the team who plans and organizes programs and learning opportunities for a whole range of audiences from K-12 students and educators, to university communities, to the broader public. I absolutely love that I get to be involved in such a wide variety of programs; I will, for example, start my morning by scheduling a book talk with a local author and finish up my workday coordinating parts of LVA’s annual Brown Teacher Institute. We are always looking for interesting ways to connect people to Virginia’s history and culture, and I’m lucky that that happens to be my job!
Have you held other positions at the Library? If so, what?
I was a Research & Exhibits intern way, way back in 2009 while I was a graduate student at the University of Virginia. I worked on the Library’s Union or Succession exhibition and really enjoyed my experience with the library’s collections and staff. I was able to return to the library in March 2021 to work on the Document Bank project, which is a digital compilation of primary sources designed to be utilized by K-12 students and educators. I started in my current role in September 2021.
How has technology affected your current job?
There is literally no way to accomplish my job without the help of technology. Public engagement is a huge part of what I do, and it’s amazing how many people the library can reach through tools like webinars, social media, and digital events. We are also able to bring resources into classrooms all over the state (and the world) that students and educators can access with just a click of a button. I like to think that we use technology to make the Library of Virginia so much bigger than a building on Richmond’s East Broad Street.
Describe your best day at the Library of Virginia.
My best day at LVA is any day I get to see how our programs impact people. For example, we collaborated with the incredible artist and educator Sushmita Mazumdar on a few workshops connected to the Library’s Columbia Pike: Through the Lens of Community photography exhibition. Sushmita inspired staff members and library patrons to explore how their life stories related to the people in the exhibition images, which led to some powerful moments of connection and empathy. It was very fulfilling to be able to facilitate those experiences for my colleagues and our guests.
What was your first paid job?
I have been a horseback rider since I was a kid, so my first paid job was as a counselor at summer horse camp. Let me tell you, you have not experienced life until you find yourself responsible for keeping children safe and happy around large animals who can run very, very fast…and who always seem to figure out a way to step on the toes of the most nervous kid.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I am a huge animal lover. I volunteer with and adopted two of my dogs through the Southeast German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue group and have fostered nine puppies and one kitten through the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA. I recently moved to Richmond and look forward to fostering in this community!