Staff profile: Danielle Mericle


How do you combine your creative passion with your professional life?

Who she is: Danielle Mericle, director of the Digital Media Group

What she does: I break it into three primary things: project management, working on digitization projects ranging from moderately sized faculty grants to large-scale stuff; managing my staff, balancing production workload; and then working on bigger, broader initiatives. Right now, I’m heavy into a campus-wide A/V initiative to figure out how we can start to preserve media on campus and determine economies of scale, so that we are all working toward the same goals.

Why it’s important: It’s all part of getting the whole campus on the same page about digital media. Different groups all over the University are collaborating, studying benchmarks and looking at volatile media types and figuring out how we can work together to set standards.

Where she comes from: I was born in Tuscon, Ariz., and a lot of my family still lives there. I like Ithaca and think it’s beautiful, but I sometimes wonder how I ended up in central New York — especially in February.

Education: I have undergrad and graduate degrees in photography. My undergrad is from the University of Georgia, and my graduate degree is from Syracuse.

Years at Cornell: Almost 10. I’ve been working in my current capacity for much of this, although the job has certainly expanded and evolved. I started as a scanning technician for about a year before I started managing the group.

Background: I’ve been doing this work for a long time: As an undergrad, back in 1997, I worked in the rare library at the University of Georgia, digitizing their collections. It was a totally random job, and I felt lucky to get it because I was a photography student and it was actually relevant to what I was learning.

Because of that experience, when I moved to New York City after graduation, I was able to get a position as a photographer for the New York Public Library. I got that job in 1998, at the very beginning of the push toward digital photography, when there were only three of us doing digital projects.

Best part of her job: I love the extraordinary variety of the job — one day I’m working on an esoteric art video collection and the next day looking at scientific slides.  It allows me to be a dilettante in many things, which is amazing.

I’ve also found it feeds my creative work as well: I’m still doing art photography, and oddly enough, I’ve been able to bridge it with my library work. Some of the work I did for Annetta Alexandridis’ plaster cast project sparked a book project and exhibition (of my own personal work).

Another book project came out of a work trip I took to Peru with anthropology professor Billie Jean Isbell to work with the Peruvian archives. This environment feeds creative energy, and that’s why after 10 years of being here, I’m not bored. I get to bring that energy back to my job; every year, it’s a new challenge, a new project, and I love that.

In her spare time: I spend a lot of time in the studio and doing photography. My husband and I publish artists’ books, and we’ve done about 10 so far. We have a presence now in the emerging field of art photography books. But ultimately it’s Charley, my four-year-old, that takes up the bulk of my time, and also my dog, Franco. They’re awesome and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dream job: To publish photography books full-time and also be an artist simultaneously. I love my job at the Library, truly, but if I could do anything, I’d do that in a heartbeat.

In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.