I started this business because I enjoy helping people with their projects.
After graduating with a BA in history and finding no teaching jobs in social studies, I began my career working in the academic library in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, performing traditional library support duties (circulation, fines, cataloging, etc.). As an early adopter of web design back when the WWW was in its infancy, while still working my day job I moonlighted with ExchangeNet (the first ISP in Cleveland) performing tech support and freelancing web design.
At one point, I overheard a librarian expressing dismay about an intern leaving, and there being nobody to help with launching the first web pages for the library, and who could they find to help with that? I told him I could. Soon I was helping with web pages at my library and became the webmaster for a spell. It was through web design that I discovered how I loved troubleshooting and moving projects through their life cycles. The library provided a landscape full of opportunities for projects, mentoring, coaching, developing systems and procedures, becoming an archivist and curator. It was my playground for almost 30 years until I retired as a public civil servant.
During my library years, my friend Allan approached me with a problem to solve. After writing several books with established publishing houses, he was tired of compromising his narrative based on the publisher’s demands. Allan wanted to self publish, but he knew nothing about how to go about it. At the time I knew nothing about it either, but I told him to let me do some research and I’d get back to him. Within a week I had a plan for him, complete with everything from how to get ISBN numbers to which companies he should consider for self publishing. That’s great, Allan said, but I don’t know anyone who can do the layout! At publishing houses there is a person who lays out the interior of the book — who can I get to do that for me? Well, I told him, let me get back to you.
That’s how my business began — by enjoying the process of helping people solve problems. Contact me to discuss how I can help with your visual communications, graphics, editing, publishing, archives, or history research.
For a more formal summary, my CV is as follows:
Master of Arts, History, 2005: Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH)
Concentration: Public History, Archives & Special Collections
Bachelor of Arts, (currently pursuing): Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH)
Major: Organizational Leadership, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
Bachelor of Arts, 1989: Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH)
Major: Modern Languages (German); Minors: History, Political Science
Study abroad, 1988: Germany: Frankfort, Hamburg, Berlin (West/East)
Burning River Design, LLC (Cleveland, OH) 2017 –Present
Sole proprietor of the design, research and consulting company in Berea, Ohio. Work with authors and project leaders facilitating and producing research, design, publishing, photography, archival and print projects.
Special Collections Manager (Curator, Public Services Manager)
Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections
Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH) 2005 – 2017
Responsible for the management and operation of a full service Special Collections department which includes a large newspaper morgue, manuscript collections, historic photograph collections, and regional book collections. Supervise part-time student assistants and volunteers.
- Collection Inventory Management
- Reference, Tutoring, Research
- Develop goals, policies and procedures for public services and collection processing
- Develop security/preservation/disaster procedures
- Faculty curriculum liaison for collection holdings
- Manage scheduling, work flow, and assignments
- Catalog and create EAD finding aids, indexes, and inventories
Specialties: Classroom instruction, staff development, inventory control, archival material processing and treatment, digital asset management.
Commoner Company, LLC (Cleveland, OH) 2011-2016
Sole proprietor of the design, research and consulting company in Cleveland, Ohio. Worked with authors and project leaders facilitating and producing research, design, publishing, photography, archival and print projects.
Paraprofessional Librarian (Digital Production Associate)
Michael Schwartz Library, Digital Production Unit
Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH) 2001-2005
Responsible for digitization of library photographs, customer reproduction orders, accounts receivable and client care. Developed an invoicing database which facilitated the ordering process and revenue audits.
Library Media Technician
Cleveland State University Library
Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH) 1992-2001
Responsible for technical services functions for the Library, including cataloging (copy cataloging and original cataloging), subject authority management, automated cataloging conversion projects, book repair, and OCLC holdings maintenance. Developed a Remote Storage tracking system for holdings stored off site. Served as Library’s webmaster from 1996-1999
ExchangeNet (Cleveland, OH) 1995-1996
Customer Service consultant, responsible for in home service requests of clients to install network service provider software and set up internet connections. Freelance web designer for small business clients.
Circulation and Overdues Supervisor
Cleveland State University Library
Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH) 1990-1992
Supervised daily and weekend operations of the Circulation Desk. Supervised the Overdues unit. Responsible for accurate accounting of fines, deposits, and receipt audits of the Overdues unit. Hired and trained student employees.
Rev. of Feel the Bonds That Draw: Images of the Civil War at the Western Reserve Historical Society., by By Christine Dee. Northwest Ohio History 79.2 (2012): 147-48.
Darius Milhaud Society Collection. Cleveland Memory Project, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2016-present.
Cleveland Railway: The Rise of Urban Transit in Cleveland. Special Collections, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2015.
Small Print: 19th Century Cleveland Bookbinding. Special Collections, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2011.
Irish Americans in Cleveland. Cleveland Memory Project, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2001-present.
The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad: Cleveland’s Iron Cross. Cleveland Memory Project, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2001-present.
Atlas of Cuyahoga County. Cleveland Memory Project, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University. 2002-2012.
“Acknowledging the Past, Forging the Future.” Colloquium, Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH. October 21-22, 2014.
“Managing and Preserving Archival Collections.” Taught by Beth Bensman and Hilary Klapman. Marshal University, WV. May 25-26, 2010.
“Care of Photographic Materials.” Taught by Gary Albright. Duquesne University. Pittsburgh, PA. June 2, 2006.
“Disaster Planning and Response.” Ohio Preservation Council / SOLINET. 2001.
National History Day: Judge (2009-present)
McNeeley Library, West Side Irish-American Club: Volunteer Visual Communications Coordinator (2011-present), Volunteer Librarian and Archivist (1999-2011)
Society for Creative Anachronism: Event coordinator, Team Coach (archery), fiber arts instructor (1990-present)
Metadata: EAD, DACS, MARC, AACR2
Library Catalogs: Millenium
Digital Libraries: Omeka, CONTENTdm
Archives Software: Archivist’s Toolkit,
Web Design: HTML, CSS, WordPress, PHP
Multimedia Software: Photoshop, InDesign
Productivity Software: MS Office (including Access), Google Docs, Acrobat
Social Media: WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr