Meet a Member

Maryska Connolly-Brown, VLA Secretary

What is your current position and employer?

Technical Services Librarian at Hampden-Sydney College, Bortz Library


When did you first know that you wanted to work in the library field?

I've always felt at home in the library. I'm from a big family (11 siblings!) and it was my sanctuary, especially during the summer. The librarians always seemed like part wizards and part caring, auntie or uncle. It never occurred to me that I could BE a librarian until I was already mostly finished with my first master's. I was studying pedagogy, but almost all of my lesson plans centered around books and information literacy. The lightbulb went off and I applied for library school before I had even finished my education master's.


What is your favorite part of librarianship?

Having a student or patron come back into the library and confidently find a resource after I've worked with them in the past. It's amazing to see.


What was your first library or library-related job? 

I worked in a temporary position on a grant-funded archival project for a year and a half. Heartbreakingly, the university underwent a merger and subsequent change of leadership, and the material I digitized and cataloged was lost to system changes.


What projects or programs are you currently working on at your library?

The most exciting project I'm working on currently is forming a catalog consortium with the Central Virginia Regional Library. I'm learning so much about the public library side of the aisle. Collectively we are going to be able to offer so much more value to our patron base, but there is a lot of background work and negotiation that has to be done to pull it off. I’m also planning my gaming programming for the fall. I intend to run a murder mystery and several tabletop RPG sessions.


What issue or topic in librarianship are you most interested in?

Anything with discoverability and access is exciting to me, especially done with an eye towards inclusion and equity. I think those two ideas aren't often paired, but there's a lot of work and research to be done where those areas intersect.


Why are you a member of VLA and what is the most important reason to you for being a member of VLA?

I'm a cis-gender, white, middle-class lady, and I recognize that no matter how confident I might feel on the technical side of my job, there are perspectives and lived experiences that I can't understand. Being involved with VLA has helped me see some of my blind spots and grow as a librarian. I never leave a conference or event without a notebook full of inspiration regarding things I can do better. I'm part of VLA for the professional comradery, to lift voices that aren't being heard, and for a chance to work toward a kinder, more equitable future for our profession.

If you have any questions for VLA Secretary Maryska, please contact her at [email protected]