Staff Spotlight: Stacey Lavender – Project Processing Archivist

We’ve hired several new staff in the Small Special Collections Library in the past year, and we’re delighted to introduce you to our wonderful new colleagues. In previous weeks,  we met Whitney Buccicone and Kim Cull. This week, meet Stacey Lavender, our Project Processing Archivist!

Stacey in her home office

Stacey in her home office

Stacey Lavender is our Project Processing Archivist, arranging and describing a variety of collections. Previously she was at Ohio University, where she worked first as a Digital Projects Librarian and then later as the Special Collections Librarian for manuscript collections. Stacey is originally from Houston, a city she loves everything about except the weather, and went to graduate school in Michigan, where she found out she loves snow.

What was your first ever job with books or libraries?
One summer while I was in high school I got a job at the local public library, mostly reshelving books. I don’t remember much about it, except that it was my first time working an 8-hour day and I felt very grown up taking 15-minute breaks in the staff lounge. At the time I never imagined I’d end up working in a library as a profession, but it must have planted a seed in my mind, because here I am!

What was the first thing you collected as a child? What do you collect now? (oh, c’mon, admit it).
Books! One year for Christmas my grandmother gave me a collection of my dad’s childhood books and I was absolutely delighted to have a full bookshelf that was ALL MINE. I’m still haphazardly adding to that collection, and I have approximately zero self control in any bookstore. I also collect postcards. I buy them at every museum I visit, and any time I travel they’re my souvenir of choice. I keep some of them taped to the wall in my office at home, and rotate them in and out. I’m also a total sucker for pretty vintage glassware.

Hopefully you’ve been roaming Grounds and Charlottesville a bit since your arrival. What’s your favorite new discovery other than Special Collections?
I’ve been having a great time exploring local places to hike, especially the parts of the Rivanna near our house and the trails around Monticello. My husband and I bring our pup, Bogie, and watch him wade in the water and (unsuccessfully) attempt to catch butterflies. We’ve also been exploring local restaurants as much as we can with the pandemic, by getting takeout a couple times a week. We get croissants and coffee from Petite MarieBette every Friday morning, which I would highly recommend as a way to kick off your weekend a little early.

Stacey's dog Bogie at the beach

Stacey’s dog Bogie at the beach

Tell us what excites you about your job?
Working with the materials! I’m an inquisitive (read: nosy) person and I love learning about people and their lives through their collections. I frequently tell people I became an archivist so I could read other people’s mail, which is mostly the honest truth. I also love thinking about the practice of arrangement and description and how to meet the needs of our users, be they students, faculty, staff, or the community at large.

Tell us something about Special Collections or UVA that is different from what you expected.
Well I certainly didn’t expect to spend most of my first 6 months working from home! I have been continuously amazed at how my colleagues here have adjusted and adapted to the rapidly changing situation caused by the pandemic. It’s been such a hard time, but it’s been heartening to see how everyone in Special Collections has come together to keep meeting the needs of our users as well as we possibly can.

If you could be locked in any library or museum for a weekend, with the freedom to roam, enjoy, and study to your heart’s content, which one would you choose?
Oooh this is a hard one! I think maybe the Met. I’ve only been there once, and sadly I got sick while I was there and had to leave after only an hour. That interrupted visit still haunts me, so it’s the place that comes to mind first. Plus it’s definitely big enough to keep you busy for a weekend!

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