This month, we interview Daniel Barron, a myMETRO member since 2013. Like many of us, Daniel has a background in publishing, which he is putting to good use in his thesis for Queens College this semester. We wish him the best of luck with his capstone project and good speed with his post-graduation endeavors.
Daniel Barron graduated from Rutgers with a BA in English. After spending a few years teaching English in South Korea and Peru, Daniel migrated to England to edit dictionaries for Pearson Education. He joined McGraw-Hill as a copy editor for textbooks and enrolled with the Department of Library and Information Science at Queens College in January 2012. To supplement his education, Daniel works a lexicographer and an editor. During the fall and spring, he can be found refereeing youth and high school soccer games around Westchester, when he isn't playing or watching soccer himself.
1. When did you first join myMETRO?
I joined myMETRO in July 2013.
2. Describe your work experience prior to joining the profession. What has been your most rewarding experience as a professional so far?
I’ve been working as a proofreader at the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges while I finish up my degree at Queens College. I'd like to work in a corporate library, and I'm enjoying the work immensely.
My work experience up to now has primarily been in the education and educational publishing fields. I taught English overseas for two years and used that experience to land a job as a lexicographer, compiling dictionary entries for English-language learners for Longman Dictionaries (a division of Pearson Education). I spent five years working for Pearson and then got a job copyediting textbooks at McGraw-Hill in 2004. When McGraw-Hill shut down their copyediting department during the height of the recession in 2009, it wasn’t easy to find permanent work in publishing. I liked working in publishing, but I didn’t see the industry stabilizing anytime soon, so I decided to enroll in library school.
I went to Queens College one January afternoon in 2012 to discuss the program with someone from the department. By the time I left, I was enrolled as a non-matriculating student in a research class that started the following week.
This semester I’ve been doing an internship at the Scholastic library in SoHo. I’m enjoying it immensely. I was drawn to Scholastic in part because it’s a publisher, so it matched my background, but also because it allowed me to develop a number of different skills. I get to do some research, some cataloging, some archiving, some answering of staff and teacher reference questions – a whole variety of things. And the librarians there – Jessica Watson and Karen Van Rossem – are great. I’ve learned a lot from them. Not just specific library skills but about the profession in general.
3. What drew you to your particular line of work?
What led me to librarianship in general was a lifelong love of libraries and a love of reading. The first time I remember seriously considering it as a profession, though, was when I was working as a temp at the pharmaceutical company Merck, just a few years out of college. I was sent to the library to get something, and while I was there I started chatting with the librarians about what they did and how they ended up where they did. This was before the Internet was all around us, and the idea that they spent their days searching for and retrieving information in response to queries fascinated me. I love learning new things and being able to answer questions. From then on I would stop by the library from time to time just to see what the librarians were up to, and that’s when I first started considering library school. I even visited a few schools soon after that, but before I could apply, I took a job teaching in South Korea instead. So I was sidetracked to education and publishing for awhile but now I’ve come full circle.
4. Tell us a little about the projects that capture your interests these days (either for yourself or an organization).
My biggest project at the moment is the thesis I’m working on this semester. Right now I’m working on my literature review.
I’m interested in finding out how public libraries assess and select dictionaries for their collections. What is their criteria for choosing the dictionaries they have? How often do they replace them with newer editions? Do they have subscriptions to online dictionaries? If they do, how do patrons access them? Do they have a wide array of dictionaries for English learners? Do they even need them at all when dictionaries can be accessed for free online? These are the things I’m investigating.
5. What are your favorite ways to stay on top of industry trends?
So far I’ve gotten my best information about industry trends by speaking to other students and librarians. I’ve been to symposia aimed at students to let them know what to expect when they finish, suggestions on how to advance in the profession, the importance of organizations and networking (I first learned about myMETRO at an event at LIU). I also have been to a few networking events. I’ve found that asking other librarians about what they do and how they got to that point is a good way to learn about the profession. Another way for me to stay on top of industry trends is to choose topics that I know little or nothing about for class projects and use the latest research to guide my findings. While at QC, some of the topics I’ve covered in papers include the impact of search engines on the design of online public access catalogs, prison libraries, management of non-profits, and the Common Core.
6. What do you find most valuable about your myMETRO membership?
I love all the classes that METRO offers. They are a great way to keep up-to-date and I plan to attend more courses once I’m fully in the profession. I also like the fact that you can take online courses via Library Juice Academy with a scholarship or METRO's discount code. I’d like to take an indexing class through LJA once I’ve graduated.
If you would like to be featured in our myMETRO spotlight series, please be in touch with Tom Nielsen, Member Services Manager.