Dan Robinson, on being a Content Analyst

Naomi House’s interview with Dan Robinson, Content Analyst

danrNaomi:  How did you find your job as a Content Analyst?
Dan:  I didn’t find it, it found me. It’s the latest, and last, job title for what turned out to be an evolving position at HW Wilson.  I started out as an indexer, then started interacting with the programmers as the company moved from the linotype for printing indexes to computer storage and printing for the indexes. That led to my being on the combined editorial/programmer team that learned MARC as we started to license our databases to libraries and other database vendors.  This led to doing the conversions of our databases to MARC.

Naomi: Tell us a little bit more about what a content analyst does.
Dan: As a Content Analyst, I had to know our internal database structures and how our data was used within them.  I then needed to know how to express that data and structure in MARC. At the end, I had a MARC conversion for every database that HW Wilson produced or used in Wilsonweb.  It was very interesting to find ways to express content in MARC that MARC was not originally intended for.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Dan: This is a toss up between The Library of Congress and the main building of the New York Public Library.  I may be odd, but when I travel, I usually don’t go to libraries.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Dan: Hmm,,, what books am I reading now?  I don’t really have a favorite, and the books that I return to for a comfort read could fill a few shelves, and now a Kindle.. or two.

Naomi: Any websites, blogs or feeds we should be following?
Dan: And email discussion lists. Let’s not forget the original. I’m on lists that span the profession, from LM_NET to WEB4LIB to PUBLIB, since I am interested in just about everything in the library world. The most helpful sites that I’ve found in my job search are INALJ, Hiring Librarians, Ask a Manager, and the Digital Reader.  I’m also a member of ALA and my state library association.

Naomi:  Any job hunting advice?
Dan: Don’t give up, and expand your horizons. Click on that unusual link and see what the job really is.  I generally follow Robert Frost and take the path less traveled.

I’ve been a librarian for over 30 years after my first job as a 5th grade teacher didn’t work out. I liked the kids, but not being stuck in a classroom with the same kids all day. I went back to Grad School and got my library degree and walked into my first school library job in the district where I did my student teaching. Two years later I was caught in a RIF, reduction-in-force, the old name for downsizing. I had another school library job that was temporary, but the district was making plans for a permanent position until their budget was defeated.

I saw a job for indexers at HW Wilson and thought “how bad could The Bronx be?”… It wasn’t so bad. I hoped I could last five years. After my initial couple of years, the next time I looked up 7 years had passed. When I started, the indexes were still being printed using linotypes and flatbed presses. When the company was acquired by Ebsco last year, the printed product was starting to fade away.

I became a librarian because I liked helping the students find information and books to read.  That was still my focus as an indexer, except I was helping librarians and teachers find the articles and reviews that they needed to help the students. I found that Indexing is the library job where you *do* sit and read almost all day. When I explained the job to my family and friends, they were amazed that I had found a job that included my favorite pastime… reading.

My picture shows me at my current work area, at the kitchen table… using the laptop in my job search.

formerly published on 1/15/13 and titled  Dan Robinson …Content Analyst