Staff Spotlight: Lauren Zuchowski Longwell – University 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, Kim Cull, Stacey Lavender, and Rose Oliveira. This week, meet Lauren Zuchowski Longwell, our University Archivist. 

Lauren Zuchowski Longwell started in August 2020 as the University Archivist at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. She previously worked at Loyola Marymount University, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Norton Simon Museum of Art (all located in Los Angeles). When she is not hard at work preserving university history, she enjoys spending time outside, baking, and reading.

Lauren Zuchowski Longwell, University Archivist

Lauren Zuchowski Longwell, University Archivist

What was your first ever job with books or libraries?
I almost always had a book in my hands as a child, but my first job working with books was at the Museum of Contemporary Art bookstore in Los Angeles. I loved it, but it turns out I spent a lot of money during my shifts and wasn’t great at selling things! I started library school while working there and never looked back.

What was the first thing you collected as a child? What do you collect now? (oh, c’mon, admit it).
I was deep into the Beanie Baby craze and even learned to sew so that I could make my own. I also collected CD singles (sparked by my deep love of the song MMMbop) and had an impressive collection of stickers showcasing Lisa Frank and fuzzy animals. My collecting as an adult is less influenced by the 1990s. I collect vintage Santa decorations, board games, fabric from places I’ve traveled, and lots and lots of books!

Hopefully you’ve been roaming Grounds and Charlottesville a bit since your arrival. What’s your favorite new discovery other than Special Collections?
My husband, daughter, and I have been exploring different hikes in the area. We have loved exploring Mint Springs Valley Park and venturing into Shenandoah. We also like to visit different wineries nearby—my one-year-old is a big fan of pulling up grass and people watching while we sample some wine so it’s a win-win! Our favorite so far has been Pippin Hill.

Tell us what excites you about your job?
I love that I’m constantly learning on the job, and I can’t wait to delve deep into UVA’s history! My position gives me the opportunity to meet so many different people across Grounds, and I am really looking forward to working with different groups to ensure that their history is preserved in the University Archives. I’m looking at you, student groups!

Tell us something about Special Collections or UVA that is different from what you expected.
The UVA specific lingo! I think I’ve finally gotten into the habit of saying “Grounds” instead of “campus.” Next up is to eliminate freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior.

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?
This is a tough one! My top choice would have to be Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. I’d love to see the areas that aren’t included in the tours! It would also fulfill my lifelong dream to swim in their two phenomenal pools. My runners-up would be the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum or The Met Cloisters but I keep thinking of more as I type…I’ll stop myself here.