About Dan Weltsch

Dan with Serra sculpture

I come from a long line of librarians. My mother, father and sister have all been librarians at one time or another. And my grandfather's cousin Felix Weltsch was a distinguished librarian and close friend of Franz Kafka.

Now I'm continuing the family librarian tradition, though my friends are not so much Kafka-like as Seinfeld-ian. I've recently (January 2009) earned my master's degree at Pratt Institute in New York readying for a career in library and information science. After a lengthy first career as a graphic artist/sign-maker, which kept me happy and allowed me to avoid "starving artist" status, I'm now in a field that fits my intersts and skills well, in which I hope to engage my intellectual side as well as my creative side. My family's experience and my initial jobs have made clear how rewarding library work can be . Though it's a turbulent time for the library profession, it's an exciting time as well. The art and science of information classification, contextualization, access and delivery will continue to be vitally important. I will be doing my part with efficiency, creativity and enthusiasm — seems like a good way to make a living.

Here's a quick, selective tour of my life: where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going:

The Past

My undergraduate studies at Amherst College were a terrific introduction to rigorous study. Working alongside brilliant, creative people, passionate about ideas, opened my eyes to learning as a way of life. My world travels have also enlightened me to the diversity of cultures and different non-American approaches to life.

Dan with big bronze plaque

After college I moved to New York City. I'm exhilarated daily by the highs and lows... and the "we're-all-in-it-together" New York spirit. I've lived in the City for 35 years; 18 of these years were spent in the sign business. My signs can be seen all over town: at the Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium, Riker's Island...and when the Letterman show took over the Ed Sullivan Theater we made the signs! While working at Manhattan Signs, our team fabricated major signage for the 1992 Democratic National Convention. I've also exhibited my paintings around Town.

NYPL Reading Room
The Present

...Thoughts on Libraries 1

Though I'm just starting out in the library field, I'm already getting a big kick out of the public service aspects of the profession. My work at ABC and ProPublica has demonstrated the value of research in media ecology, and my work in the interlibrary loan department at the College of Staten Island has made me appreciate the great worth of efficiently getting resources to researchers and students. I currently work on several archiving projects including a large photography archive for the Library of Congress. I'm looking to build on these jobs and move into a position where I can use my talents. Each class, workshop and conference (including Computers in Libraries 2010 and 2012) has opened up new ideas for possible career paths; I'm especially intrigued by digital libraries and repositories, and the creative utilization of relational databases to access them.

The Future

...Thoughts on Libraries 2

With the ascendancy of computer technology, I see many challenges for information professionals: we must creatively manage resources; we must recognize relative strengths of different public service options; and we must show leadership in, or at least deal with, the emerging new modes of living that shape us and our customers. We'll have to stay aware of trends among young people who make up much of our customer base; these trends currently include tech-savviness, love of hand-held devices, and multitasking (with the attendant problem of fractured attention). It's not good enough designing systems for today's patrons — we must also entice tomorrow's patrons. Open Access journals are starting to shake up the traditional modes of publishing and scholarship; interesting new avenues are opening up. The "Semantic Web" is now evolving, promising a new kind of relationship between people and information. Oh yes, and we'll have to keep our traditional users happy too.
It will be exciting to see what kind of future we can build for the field of librarianship. I'm sure there's a rewarding spot for me — I'd certainly like to use my art and design talents in some way, whether it be constructing virtual environments, enhancing website usability, designing human/computer interfaces or even planning signage systems.

Send email to: danweltsch (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Be sure to visit my blog...it's called Boodleheimer.