Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Moving on to Fall

 This week was fairly uneventful, as all I did was read teen books and sneeze a lot. I really enjoy this program in SLIS! All my assigned readings are really fun, and I never thought homework in grad school would be fun. The only hard part about being slammed with so much homework is I woke up on Monday with the sniffles. The sniffles are really no fun, especially when a sore throat follows a day or two later. Lots of naps this week with the sniffles, but by next week I should be back to Loretta's for line dancing.

  For my Young Adult class, I am evaluating trends in publishing. It is so interesting, and makes my course seem so relevant to the profession I will be going into in about a year. The critical texts we read correspond with the assigned young adult books we read, which is really nice.

 In my other class, I have a lot of textbook readings about story structure. I've always loved writing, so I don't mind all the reading - as dense as it is. This week was the first big writing assignment for the Writing for Children class, and I feel so lucky to be taking a class with MFA students in the Simmons Children's Literature program. Simmons has blessed me with two wonderful programs of courses and one degree that will lead to a future career in school libraries (and writing children's books during the summer).

   This is the last weekend of summer before the fall weather comes. I've already brought out the gourds and apple cider, but I guess that fall will have to wait until Tuesday. My weekend plans are ice cream at Abbott's frozen custard in Brighton, a picnic in a park (a lovely pond in Brighton) with fellow SLIS school library friends, and lots of studying. Looking forward to summer weather this weekend, but not so much the studying. 

SLIS | classes | reading


Intro to Programming

I wrote a post last year explaining all the different ways that discussion happens in online classes (http://blogs.simmons.edu/slis/student-experience/2019/04/participation.html).  This semester, I have another new format for my Introduction to Programming course (LIS 485), and it relies on mainly on classmate feedback.  Each week, we have to complete a lab and an assignment.  The lab is where we practice our coding skills, and the assignment is where we answer questions and/or perform a coding task related to what we've learned in the lab.  It's very similar to the format of Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488), except that now we are required to post our work to the forums for our classmates to review.  I was pretty anxious about this at first.  In a normal class, if I mess up, I'm the only one who knows besides the professor.  With this format, there's no secrecy.  If I struggle or have the wrong answers, everyone will know.  What if my classmates judge me for being wrong? 

Thankfully, this has not been the case.  It turns out that looking at and commenting on everyone's work is not as scary as I thought it would be.  In fact, it's actually very helpful!  There is a lot of variety in programming and many ways that you can get to the same answer.  It's been interesting to see everyone's work, and I've gotten lots of ideas on how to approach different coding situations.  Everyone has been very friendly and helpful with their comments.  It's a supportive atmosphere, not a judgmental one.  For the labs, we can comment on anyone's work, but for the assignments, we have "code partners," and we discuss just between the two of us.  Overall, I think this format is great for improving my coding skills and for getting to know my classmates better. 

This week's assignment is particularly interesting and will probably generate a lot of discussion.  We had to write pseudocode for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Pseudocode is basically an outline for your code, where you to write out everything in detail and get the steps organized before you actually start to code.  I made several drafts of my pseudocode.  I started by explaining the sandwich making process in full detail, from taking out the jars of peanut butter and jelly to unscrewing the lids to cutting the sandwich.  I think I had too much detail there, and I whittled it down a bit.  I still wasn't happy with that version and I completely re-wrote it to be very basic.  I think I might have been a little too basic, but it was hard to make the choice between too much info and too little info.  I'm sure the responses this week are going to be all over the map in terms of detail, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

SLIS | Technology | classes | skills


Change the Subject: Dartmouth Students Take on the Library of Congress

What better way to spend Friday the 13th than at school watching a documentary about the weight of -- and potential harm associated with -- naming as well as the intersections of subject headings and activism? I did just that, settling in for a viewing and panel discussion of "Change the Subject," which follows "a group of students at Dartmouth College, whose singular effort at confronting anti-immigrant sentiment in their library catalog took them all the way from Baker-Berry Library to the halls of Congress. 'Change the Subject' shows how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight, and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill." You can check out the trailer for yourself here

The documentary was fabulous, but the high point was hearing from all of the panelists. Óscar Rubén Cornejo Cásares joined us via Skype. He is a former undocumented student activist who was involved with CoFIRED (Coalition for Immigration Reform and Equality at Dartmouth), and one of the film producers. He is currently working on his PhD at Northwestern. Óscar spoke about finding his voice, and gaining a better understanding of complex library systems, as well as his general experience with CoFIRED and studying at Dartmouth. 

Filmmakers Sawyer Broadler and Jill Baron were also on the panel. Jill and Sawyer had originally planned on creating a 15 minute video to document the process, but opted for an hour long documentary when they amassed 30+ hours of footage. It was Dartmouth student Melissa Padilla's interaction with Jill that set off the fight for removal of the subject heading "illegal alien" from Library of Congress records. Jill had been conducting a reference interview with Melissa when searches for "undocumented immigrants" led to the subject heading in question. Jill spoke extensively about confronting her own whiteness/privilege and her journey challenging the Library of Congress instead of blindly accepting their naming conventions as gospel. 

Community activists rounded out the panel. Irma Lemuz is a migration, gender and environmental justice organizer with Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network. She is originally from Honduras, and spoke about her difficult journey to the United States, and emphasized that the world has no true borders. Irma brought her son to the event. He sat near the front and was clearly so proud of his mom. He recorded every answer she gave on the panel. I only cried a little bit. 

Catalina Santiago is a immigration justice organizer with Movimiento Cosecha Massachusetts, who arrived to the panel from a Quinceañera outside the Massachusetts State House. The Rainbow Times writes that "after fifteen years of empty promises saying action will be taken on drivers' licenses for migrants, the community and allies will gather to demand change through a mock celebration." Catalina spoke about the reclamation of slurs and how labels have specifically affected her life. 

At the conclusion of the event, Andrew Clark -- who is a Discovery and Metadata Librarian at Beatley -- shared with those in attendance that the Fenway Library Organization (FLO) is working to strike "illegal aliens" from member library catalogs. I am elated that Simmons is willing to put in the work to ensure that harmful naming practices do not have a home on our campus.

 

Events | Real World | SLIS


A Break for Some Fun!

  This week, I tried to have some fun.  I was assigned three books to read this week for my YA Library Collections class I spent most of my week studying and reading! The books are: Judy Blume's Forever; Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly; and Looking for Alaska by John Green. I gave myself a goal on Monday. If I could finish all of the readings for my Writing For Children class, and get halfway done with Looking For Alaska, then I would do something fun on Tuesday night. Howdy, cowgirl! Out I went to a country bar.

   Walking from Simmons to Fenway, I had never realized how "hopping" the area is. Before heading to Fenway on a Tuesday night, I checked to make sure there was no Red Sox game. The crowds out in Fenway Park can get crazy on game night. With no game, I was good to go line dancing. Growing up listening to country music, I was really excited to learn that there is a country bar in Boston. With school and volunteering, I could never find the time to go to Loretta's Last Call, which is down the street from House of Blues. I finally got the courage this week!  

   Every half hour at Loretta's, there is a quick lesson for a new dance, and then you practice to a couple songs. There are free line dancing lessons on Sundays and Tuesdays at 8 pm. The "regulars" (the people who come every week) are very welcoming to new faces. In the midst of a busy week of studying and work, it is good to get a break. You don't have to be a good dancer! You really just have to know which direction everyone is facing when you dance. I tried out some hard line dances, but caught on pretty quickly. For any fan of country music or someone who loves dancing, this is definitely a great break from studying!

Books | Boston | Classes | Fun | SLIS | Students


Keeping Track

My first week of the semester went well.  Usually the first week is a bit lighter than the rest of the semester, with the professors introducing themselves and giving a basic overview of the courses, and the students answering some forum questions to get to know each other and the course topic.  Week two is where the more serious work starts.  I certainly have a lot of work this semester, with several group projects, research papers, and presentations. 

I was overwhelmed when I first read my course syllabi.  For my first two semesters, all my classes have followed a similar format, with Day 1 being the first day of class, and Day 7 being the due date for the assignments.  I didn't write down any deadlines, because I knew that I had to get everything done by the end of the week.  It was pretty simple to manage.  This semester, however, is different.  All my classes have work due on Day 7, but two of my three classes have additional work due before the last day of the week.  So there are a lot more deadlines.  To make things even more confusing, all of my classes start on different days.  Thankfully, I went out and found a nice planner with lots of space to keep track of everything that's due.  I've already entered all of my weekly assignments and big project deadlines.  I actually entered my big project deadlines twice--once on the weekly calendar and once on the monthly calendar.  It took a while, but it was worth it because now I can see everything that's due and can plan for busier weeks.  And I won't worry about forgetting an assignment.  If only completing the work were as easy as planning it.

SLIS | Workload | classes


Who Knew Fidelity Investments has a Library?

Hello, Student Snippet readers! Long time no see(read?)! Happy start of the new semester, I have had one of the busiest summers of my life this year. For a quick recap: I had to put my on-campus job in the SLIS admissions office on hold since I was working at Fidelity Investments full-time as their Research Services Intern, while also taking Metadata online which was offered this summer as the SLIS travel course to Yonsei University in South Korea!

Since I could write about my trip to South Korea for ages, I thought I'd focus my first "back-to-school" blog post, on my internship this summer. I found and applied for my summer internship using the SLIS jobline. I was fortunate enough interview, and be offered the internship at Fidelity Investments in Boston, where I would be working with their research services team. Now I'm sure I am not alone in that I had no idea that Fidelity even had a library, and with it some super cool librarians! Because it was a corporate library, the job came with some cool, hip corporate lingo too, we weren't reference librarians, we were information consultants. Functionally though, the work I did wasn't very different from other libraries it was just mainly focused on finance and economics. As someone with an art history and non-profit background, I was honestly quite terrified of working there, I did not feel qualified to handle reference questions about factor investing but spoiler alert: I handled it! I answered reference questions on all sorts of topics like when people buy furniture or which grocery store chain has the highest market share in New England. I also cataloged/checked-in new books and periodicals to the physical collection, and helped with content management of the collection as well.I also learned some sweet, sweet excel skills through this internship; and nothing makes me feel more like a wizard than data organization and visualization in excel with charts. 

I really loved the time I was able to spend at Fidelity and this internship really helped broaden my horizons on different career paths in librarianship. If you had asked me last September, when I was first starting the program if I would ever see myself working in a corporate library I'd probably just say a quick and simple: no. But, it turns out, I really loved it from day one! Most of the people I worked with there were Simmons grads, and it really felt like a great community. My takeaways from this internship were ultimately that I am capable of more than I lead myself to believe, and that my library science degree is applicable in more ways than I could have ever imagined!

 

Internships | Jobs | SLIS | Students | skills


Tidbits of the Week/end

This has been quite the busy week! I started off my week with grocery shopping, and will finish the week with my LIS-483 "Library Collections and Materials for Young Adults" class.

 Grocery shopping may seem a very mundane chore, but I love finding new ethnic food shops around Boston. Boston is a city that welcomes people from all different cultures. In Allston, there are Asian food shops and even a market with a few different Asian restaurants called Food Connection. I am not your typical Asian, and most definitely not your typical American. My father is from India, and I was excited to find a huge Indian grocery store in Somerville, a suburb of Boston, so I did another round of grocery shopping Monday evening.

 Friday evening, I went to Kiki's Market in Brighton. Kiki's Market has specialty Irish foods, such as Irish brands of cookies and chocolates. After visiting Ireland only a few months ago, it was nice to see name brands I recognize, and my favorite Irish tea at a discounted price.

 Most of my weekend was spent reading ahead for my "Library Collections and Materials for Young Adults" class, but the texts are so well-written that it was fun homework.

 I went to New Students Welcome Day on Tuesday. Representing SCIRRT, I talked to incoming students and told them how library science is a field that we can look at from a global perspective.   I shared my experience, noting that the Simmons community encourages international students and diversity in the classroom.   

 In 2019, I believe creating networking connections abroad with colleagues in our studies is so important. I almost have a date in place for an event that will be insightful to anyone who is interested in how to make an elementary age library class a global experience for young students.

 Stay tuned to hear about upcoming, exciting SCIRRT club events, hopefully they will include collaborating with other club leaders since that is something I really enjoy!

Fun | Students | classes


Getting Ready

Where did the rest of the summer go?  I feel like I just finished my summer classes and now I'm starting my fall classes.  I managed to pack a lot of reading and audiobook listening into the past few weeks (my favorite book was Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert and my favorite audiobook was Circe by Madeline Miller), which is great because I don't think I'm going to be able to spare much time for recreational reading from now on.  I'm taking three classes this semester and I'm a bit nervous that it will be too much.  The good thing is that I don't have to take three classes, and if I feel that the workload is overwhelming then I can drop a class.  I'll see how this week goes.  But I'm very good at setting up a schedule for myself and I feel confident that I can juggle the three classes.  Plus, each class seems very interesting and I really don't want to miss any of them.

The class I'm most excited about is LIS 485, Introduction to Programming.  When I saw this class on the schedule, I knew I had to take it, because I love anything tech related.  We'll be doing some advanced programming and I can't wait.  Another tech related class that I'm taking is LIS 421, Social Informatics.  It focuses on how social forces affect technology, and vice versa.  It sounds incredibly interesting and very practical.  If you think about it, it's hard to determine whether technology influences society or society influences technology, because they are so intertwined.  I hope to find some clarity through this class.  The third class I'm taking is LIS 462, Digital Libraries.  Our class project is to create a digital library from the ground up, using some materials from the Boston Children's Museum's archive.  It will involve everything from scanning the material, to creating metadata, and setting up a website.  I think I will learn a lot of valuable skills here.  Also, the professor asked for volunteers to help scan the material, and I am going to do that at the end of the week.  It should be very exciting, as I haven't done any digitization yet and I want to learn as much as I can about the process.

So bring it on, fall semester!  I'm ready for you!

SLIS | classes


Focus on EBSCO

On August 13th I was able to participate in a focus group for the new EBSCO mobile app! I really love workshopping, and this felt like that to the extreme. It was awesome to have a say in a product that I will get to reap the benefits from, as well as pass on to patrons, friends, and future researchers alike. 

This particular focus group was definitely saturated with library and information science students. I personally knew half of the group members, and recognized most of the others! Involvement in LIS definitely informed our reaction to the EBSCO mobile app. Most people in this section of the focus group entered with an understanding of EBSCO's products and an interest in user experience (at least enough to sign up for the study). It was great to hear the opinions of other library science students, but I would have also loved more input from people outside the field. Does the average Bostonian conducting research care about how many times a paper has been cited in other academic research? Would they agree that responsiveness in PDFs in absolutely essential? Do they want subject headings displayed prominently? 

It was fascinating to see what was a top priority for each of us when considering a mobile research app. I emphasized that a folder system for organizing articles was very important, which was echoed by many of my peers. We highlighted the importance of interoperability across devices, and discussed how to make the idea of a "guest" login more transparent in terms of what content they have access to. Many of us stated that saving and retrieving previously viewed articles was essential, but we vastly differed on how in depth we were comfortable going with our research on a mobile device. Some of us (me included) utilize our phones as a primary computing device while on a commute, while others were more likely to conduct a quick search and save content for later viewing on a laptop/desktop. 

Overall, I loved this experience! I felt the EBSCO employees were both attentive and responsive to our suggestions. They made sure to tell us not to hold any punches. I think we made some awesome progress on improving an app that was already pretty great! On top of all of the fun insight I gained talking to EBSCO employees, and the rush I got from the 'insider information' and influencing app edits, each participant also received an Amazon gift card! Don't tell EBSCO, but I would've done it for free! I can't wait to hunt down more focus groups, and test out the EBSCO app in real time when it launches next year!

Events | SLIS | Students | Technology


Getting Ready For Fall 2019

Wow! It is hard to believe there is only one more week until classes start! It'll be nice to get back into study mode after having a month break. The last few things I need to do before classes start are buy my textbooks for class, buy some notebooks, and get ahead on readings due the first couple weeks.

 In the School Library Teacher Program (SLTP), students are able to take two electives. I have always loved writing for fun, and one of the reasons I chose Simmons was due to their exceptional Children's Literature department. (not to mention their very reputable School Library Teacher Program within the Library and Information Science department). My one fun elective for this fall semester is Writing for Children I. Some of my other SLTP friends are taking electives such as Storytelling and Medieval Manuscripts.

 

My one required class for the fall is Library Collections and Materials for Young Adults, where I will learn about how to create and manage a library collection for teens. I am excited to conduct observation hours in a high school library to see what teenagers like to read, and figure out if I want to work in a high school library. This is my last required class before I start my practicum (student teaching) in the spring. SLTP students need to complete all their pre-practicum observation hours before they can start their elementary student teaching.

 

Getting ready for the new semester means I am not only a student, but also a leader for one of the LISSA clubs. I am the president of SCIRRT, the Student Chapter of the International Relations Round Table for the 19-20 school year. I am the only one in a leadership position for this club at the moment, so the beginning of the semester will involve a lot of recruiting new members and planning exciting events for the SLIS community. Until Welcome Day and the first day of classes on September 3rd, I will try to do as much fun reading as I can in my backyard.

SLIS | School Libraries | classes


It's LIT!

The truth is, sometimes I think of myself as a 'bad librarian' for how few books I've read in the past year! It may even be less that I'm not living up to the librarian stereotypes, and more because I feel like I'm missing a piece of myself! In middle and high school (especially over the summer), I would read two or three books a week. College kind of killed my reading bug. I'd find it almost impossible to read for pleasure after 200-some pages of theory, so Netflix it was! I had high hopes that the ease of reading would fly back to me post-graduation, but that was not the case! One book. I read one book! ALL SUMMER! After Karin Slaughter's thrilling but terrifying Pretty Girls (highly recommend), I was overcome with moving to Boston, making my first apartment home, and finding a tribe. Kicking off grad school meant more prescribed reading, three jobs, and more exhaustion. But even though summer is almost over, I decided I'd had enough. I work at a library for goodness sake, so what's stopping me? 

During my break I bounded upstairs and selected Martin Duberman's Stonewall from a beautiful Pride month display. I'm only a chapter or so into the book, but I'm letting the book swallow me in its pages. While working the Children's desk, Natasha Slee and Cynthia Kittler's Planet Fashion: 100 Years of Fashion History caught my eye. It may have started with a children's book, but I'm finally remembering how to read for fun! David Wong's John Dies at the End also grabbed my attention, along with The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I usually only consume fantasy in visual forms, so I'm excited for the new experienceI may have been a little ambitious grabbing three thick books when my Google calendar is so full, but I have hope that I'm tapping into the joy grade school Katie felt while cracking open a book!

Fun | SLIS | Summer | reading


End of Summer Term, Plus Beach Reads!

It's the last week of summer term!  Yay!  I am almost done with all my work.  I submitted my final project for my Info Sources class, but I am still finishing my final paper for my Management class.  It's a grant proposal and I'm struggling with it.  Grant writing is very different from academic writing.  It needs to be very concise and to the point.  I love to write and play around with words and sentence structure and having to pare down my language has been tough.  I'm focusing on brevity but I'm also worried that I'm not explaining myself enough.  I'm sure there's a sweet spot between too little explanation and too much explanation, but I haven't found it yet and I'm frustrated.  It feels very sparse and cold somehow.  Thankfully I have a solid base written out and I just need to make sure that I'm being addressing all the necessary points.  But grant writing is something that I am probably going to be encountering in my library career, so it's good to practice.  We learned in class that grant writing is a team-oriented process and there are several proofreaders for each grant.  Volunteering to be a proofreader will be a great way to get more familiar with grant writing, and I definitely want to do it, especially since grants can have a significant impact on libraries. 

After I submit all my work for this semester, I'm going on vacation!  In a lovely coincidence, my yearly family vacation in Cape Cod starts right after term ends, and I cannot wait.  I spend most of my time reading at the beach, with my toes in the sand, listening to the sound of the waves.  I usually bring a ton of books, and this year I'm bringing  Louis XIV: the power and the glory by Josephine Wilkinson, Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the fall of Madame X, and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee.  It's an odd assortment for sure, with books about all-powerful royalty, leper colonies in Hawaii, aspiring rap singers, and scandalous artwork.  But I couldn't resist.  I expect to be highly entertained.  And I deserve a break, because I worked really hard this semester.  I am going to enjoy not having any homework to do until September!

Fun | SLIS | Summer | classes | reading


Summer Life

It's hard to believe that July is almost over! I've kept busy this summer with studying, even though I am not taking any summer classes. I took the reading MTEL Communication & Literacy Skills subtest in June, and I have the writing exam next week. The MTEL Communication & Literacy Skills is an exam SLT students need to pass before they can do their last two semesters of practicum experiences (student teaching). Luckily, I saved my eighth grade grammar textbook and brought it out to Boston! Princeton Review has been very helpful in my studying. I also listen to a podcast called Grammar Girl to review the basic grammar rules.

When I am not studying, I've been applying to part time jobs in the fall. I've applied to a few at Boston Public Library, one at Cambridge Public Library, and a couple of library assistant positions in local school districts. With six library job applications submitted, it is waiting time. Waiting to hear back is definitely the hard part, but at least I can catch up on fun reading while I am waiting. Speaking of reading, the best part of my summer so far has been visiting Ireland for a couple weeks, which included checking out some libraries!

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I went over to Ireland to volunteer at a Catholic summer camp, and after camp concluded, I visited friends. In undergrad, I studied abroad for a semester in Galway, Ireland, but this was my first time back since studying abroad. When I visited friends in Cork, the library student in me definitely wanted to see the library, and even do a little networking. The first day in Cork, my friend Jack showed me where in the city the library was so that I could go visit the library on my own the next day. It was huge, but not as big as Boston Public Library's main branch!

Getting to go inside the library was quite exciting. When I first walked in, the children's room was on the left. It was really nice chatting with the children's librarian there, and bonding over how we both share a passion for encouraging children's love of reading. In the library collection, there were children's books by authors from the United States, Ireland, and the UK. After exploring the children's room, I was already brainstorming ways to learn about library services in Ireland, as well as how we can make learning more global for students visiting their school library. Showing students children's books written by authors from other countries can help the students learn about different cultures and expand their imaginations. I look forward to the next time I can visit a library in Ireland, but for now I am studying hard for my MTEL Communication & Literacy Skills exam next week!

International | SLIS | School Libraries | Summer


Summer is Flying By!

Things have been crazy!  Summer is just flying by!  There are only seven weeks in my summer class (LIS 404: Principles of Management), and we are in Week 6, and there is so much left to do.  During these last two weeks, we're learning about Change Management, Grant Writing, Fiscal Responsibility, Budgeting, and Evaluation and Coordination of Library Functions!  So many topics, so little time!  There are still several assignments left to complete, readings to be done, and forums to participate in and it is crunch time. 

I've really enjoyed this class, especially because this class has more of a classroom feel to it.  Even though this is an online course, this class utilizes "wikis" on Moodle where we have discussions that are more personal (like the one about the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs personality test that I mentioned in my last post), so we get to know our classmates.  This past week (Week 5), one of our topics was Motivation and Drive, and we had a discussion on what our motivations were for pursuing our MLIS.  I've only taken online classes at Simmons so far, and while there have been discussion forums that allow us to participate and interact with one another, I really haven't gotten to know or learn about any of my classmates very much.  This class feels more personal, and I really appreciate that.  While all of my classes at Simmons have had lively discussion forums, this class feels more like a class, like we're all on this journey of learning about management and getting our MLIS together, and not sitting behind our computers alone. 

This is the second summer course I've taken, and while on one hand, I have really enjoyed having no schoolwork for several weeks between semesters and getting a little break, I really wish the summer classes were a little bit longer.  Summer classes are half the length of a regular semester course, and while I've enjoyed both summer classes that I've taken, and I've learned so many new skills, the rigorous pace can be difficult at times.  Due to their accelerated nature, it feels like so much more work than a regular semester (and it kind of is because you are accomplishing it in half the time).  The fast pace of the summer classes have definitely been a challenge for me both times around, because in addition to balancing my schoolwork, I'm balancing my job, my personal life, family, etc.  Staying on top of everything can be incredibly difficult, and having good time management skills is imperative.  With that being said, I am happy that I decided to take a summer course this year.  This class has challenged me to think in new ways, I've learned so many practical skills that I can take with me on my educational and professional journey, and I have gotten the opportunity to get to know my classmates. 

Wish me luck for the final push!

Classes | SLIS | Summer | Workload


How a Hungry Floridian Feeds Herself without Publix

Now as someone born and raised in Florida, I have very strong opinions on which supermarket is the best. Publix is the greatest gift that Florida has given to the Southeast and I will always make whoever picks me up from the airport come with a chicken tender pub sub in one hand, and a Publix arnold palmer in the other. 

So as nearly a cult member to the religion that is Publix, moving up to New England and not having access to my pub subs and near endless BOGO deals was honestly quite worrisome. But don't fret fellow Floridians, or any folks who care to read my crazed musings about grocery shopping, I have taken it upon myself to visit the nearest grocery stores to me and let y'all in on all my crazy thoughts and opinions. I'll not go to in depth since this is one of those weird topics that I could talk about for hours, but honestly I feel like this is helpful information for fellow foodies moving to the Boston area from another part of the country. 

Bfresh - 5% student discount on groceries, I REPEAT 5% DISCOUNT ON STUDENT GROCERIES! This is a very small grocery store near the Harvard Ave stop on the B line but they for the most part have everything you need. I personally really love this grocery store because I'm more likely to stick to my list since its so small and I don't get lost looking for the simplest things. This one is my top pick for people in Brighton. 

Trader Joe's - an obvious choice, a classic stable in the grad student's budget for their wide range of frozen foods as well as excellently priced produce. Just don't go on a Sunday, it will be a mob scene. I would say that Trader Joe's almost has a similar following to Publix and I get it, there in house brand products are so tasty and affordable. That being said, sometimes I just need Oreos, not Joe-Joe's. 

Stop & Shop/Star Market - I'm lumping these two places together because they are both so very average. The Star Market near me is possibly my least favorite place to go because it is organized in a way that I just can't figure out. The one near campus is so much better so I guess it just really depends on the location. 

Wegmans - I hate admitting this but Wegmans is great. I had to text one of my old roommates who was from upstate New York because we would always fight over Publix vs. Wegmans yet neither of us had been to the others favorite. The closest Wegmans to me is in Chestnut Hill, so I had to get my cousin to "steal" her boyfriend's car (a minivan, perfect for all the food we were about to buy) and we dragged all the other roommates out on an epic adventure. It was glorious, all the groceries were located on the first floor, and then all the alcohol on the second (they had an AMAZING selection of craft beers, some even from my favorite breweries in Florida!) If you have a car or live in Chestnut Hill, I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't be shopping at Wegmans. 

Whole Foods - I am really only including Whole Foods because it is actually the closest grocery store to my apartment and it is both a blessing and a curse. I will cave into my lazy nature sometimes (especially in the winter) and go there for groceries and every time I am either paying too much for things or they don't have the things I want. I will say though that their hot bar is amazing and while I feel like it is overpriced, sometimes my happiness and need for chicken tenders is greater than my frugalness. 

My research is far from over for this but I had a  way more fun than average exploring and judging grocery stores around Boston. I still want to try out two other places that people keep recommending to me, Market Basket in Sommerville and Russo's in Watertown. I'm especially excited about Russo's since it's a family owned market and I've been told has an amazing selection of all types of produce and such.

 

Fun | Resources | SLIS


Adventures in Reference

It's week 5 and I still haven't gotten the hang of how fast summer courses go by.  Including this week, there are only three weeks left in the semester.  *takes a few deep, calming breaths.*  How did that happen?  Basically, because all I've been focusing on is my schoolwork and how to get everything done on time without cramming.  I've been keeping a very regular study schedule so that I don't get behind.  When I get home from work, I eat, then do school work, and on the weekends, I spend a lot of time finishing up projects.  There really is no time to procrastinate or take a break, and the time has gone by in a blur.  But, I am loving both of my classes and have learned a ton already.

I'm particularly enjoying LIS 407, Information Sources and Services.  It's all about reference services--basically, teaching us how to search more efficiently and effectively.  We've learned many searching strategies, including how to combine those techniques to broaden or narrow our results, and how to conduct a reference interview to help patrons find what they need.  Our assignments have been to answer a list of questions, which can be anything from "tell me about the origin of this word" to "who was this person" to "how can I find information on this subject."  It seems simple but it's not.  In fact, it took me hours to complete these assignments, and for the most part I was frustrated and not very happy with the sources that I found. 

The main problem is that I'm searching not only for the answer to the question, but for the correct place to search.  There are many different types of sources, including encyclopedias, almanacs, yearbooks, and gazetteers (yes, that's a real word for a geographical index).  It's not as easy as typing "encyclopedia" in the Simmons Library catalog, because there are literally thousands of encyclopedias.  You have to wade through a lot of information and may have to try several search techniques and combinations to end up with a useful result.  Right now, I'm not familiar with all the reference sources that Simmons has, and I have had to search through their database or journal list to just to decide where to start searching.  Also, not all the sources are online, which is frustrating because I have gotten several appropriate search results that have been physical books, which I cannot access.  Luckily, I'm not the only one struggling.  My classmates have all commented on how difficult it's been to search.  We are all, myself included, so used to Googling everything, that it's a real eye opener to use other, more quality search engines.  

The good news is that I am confident that my skills will improve with practice.  Once I am more familiar with the particular reference sources available to me, I will be able to search more quickly, and won't have to waste time on where to start or wading through sources that aren't very helpful.  I actually like the search process, which is surprising to me because I never considered being a reference librarian.  It's like a treasure hunt, and very rewarding when you can help people with their questions.  I'm looking forward to continuing to hone my searching skills.  The learning curve is steep, but I know I'll be able to conquer it eventually.  

Classes | SLIS | Summer | skills


Baby's First ALA

A few weeks ago I took part in a librarian rite of passage, and made my way down to Washington D.C. for the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition. 

As a grad student on a tight budget (especially a full time grad student living in Boston), attending conferences can be expensive. That is why I was extra thankful that LISSA offers Professional Development Reimbursement at Simmons! More information on PDR funds can be found here, but essentially LISSA will reimburse students for up to $250 incurred by engaging in LIS-related professional development activities. My $250 went directly towards my ALA experience, including covering a good chunk of the gas I purchased making the 879 mile journey from Boston to Washington, D.C. and back. This ALA trip truly was brought to you by a giant cooler filled with sandwiches, a 15 hour long playlist, PDR funds, and lots of iced coffee! 

As you probably know by now, one of my jobs is working as a SLIS Admission Student Ambassador. This meant I also manned the Simmons booth at ALA with SLIS various faculty and staff. It was great to interact with tons of alums, as well as a few prospective students.

 

Heading into ALA, my co-workers had warned me to pack light, anticipating bringing back boxes and boxes of advanced reader copies (ARCs) from vendors and publishers, but I was still shocked by the smorgasboard of amazing literature to pick from walking the booths of the exhibition hall. I walked away with one or *echem* six bags of books that I can't wait to dive into, as well as a few titles to pre-order. I was able to score books that perfectly fit the interests of each of my family members. A book detailing a conversation between Michelle Obama and Melania Trump played into mine and my mother's love for first ladies. My Game of Thrones fanatic father was gifted a book that provided a look at the historical events that loosely inspired the series. It's sometimes hard to tell, but I think my sporty teenage brother was excited by a book penned by Kobe Bryant that combines magic and athleticism. 

While the ALA conference was my first priority, how could I not take in the beautiful sights of D.C. in my spare moments?  

Of course I was able to explore the mall, dodge electric scooters, and coo over the baby ducklings in the reflecting pool. I also managed to catch up with some old friends!  

Because museums are my happy place,  I had to be sure to check out the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Here are two of my favorite pieces from the museum! 

 

Lastly, I was able to swing down to the National Archive for another peek at the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while many of the Smithsonian museums have extended hours in the summer, many of them stay open until midnight on the days surrounding the summer solstice. Luckily for us librarians, the solstice and the ALA overlapped, allowing me to explore the museum of natural history late into the evening. 

My first ALA was definitely one for the books. I'll see all of you in Chicago for ALA 2020! 

Fun | SLIS | Student Groups | Summer | conferences


The Dog Days of Summer

It's Week 4 of LIS 404!  Oh, my goodness, this class has been keeping me on my toes!  As I've said before, this class is a lot shorter than a regular semester class, but we're doing the same amount of work, which is a little bit intense!  There's a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, so each week there's an abundance of readings to be completed, notes to go over, and lectures to watch.  I know that theoretically it is same amount of work as a regular semester class just in an accelerated timeframe, but between this class and my summer class last year, I feel that there is a lot more reading in summer classes than there is during the semester.  However, this could just be because of the timing- maybe I just don't notice the amount of reading as much because it is more spaced out during the regular semester classes?   

These past two weeks have been more 'participation' weeks rather than 'assignment' weeks, with us participating more on the forums and wikis instead of having papers or projects to turn in.  Last week we learned about Organizational Culture, Personality, Decision Making, and Strategic Management.  In one of our forums we took the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test and shared our results and a brief summary of our background and it was one of the most interesting and enjoyable assignments that I've had since starting at SLIS.  In online classes sometimes it feels like we don't get to know our classmates except for maybe a brief hello during the first week in the introduction forums, so it was nice to have an opportunity to get to "meet" my classmates and get to know them on a deeper level.   I really  enjoy it when the online classes feel less remote and more personal!  Additionally, I've always been fascinated by the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test.  I've taken the test a few times before, and according to my results I'm an INTJ.  If you are interested in taking an online, free version of the test, this is the version that we took for class. 

The remaining half of this class is going to be a lot of hard work, but the material is really interesting and engaging!  Wish me luck!

Classes | Learning | SLIS | Summer


To All the Bookstores I Ever Loved

Now that summer has officially started, I am finding myself with something I almost never have, extra free time! I am interning full-time this summer so I am still busy throughout the day but it is so nice to be able to leave my work at the office and come home and not have to worry about catching up on my assignments or readings for class. So obviously, my conclusion for how to occupy all this new free time is that I can finally start catching up on all my leisure reading. 

This also means I have to make a trip to my favorite bookstore because you can never have too many books. I live pretty close to Brookline, and Coolidge Corner has always been one of my favorite areas to take a stroll and hang out when the weather is nice. The Trader Joe's is there, a great tea shop, a yoga studio (I keep saying I will take a class at one of these weekends), and best of all Brookline Booksmith, (a used and new bookstore.) I have spent many hours in their basement going through their new additions cart of used books.

 My latest trip over to pick up some summer reading though gave me the idea for this post: I want to find all the best local bookstores in Boston!   I'm a creature of habit and once I find a place I like I just frequent them exclusively but now living in a big city that has a lot of options I need to work on broadening my horizons! 

One of the areas I always seem to hang out is Cambridge since my cousin and I are obsessed with a Mexican restaurant there called Felipe's (they have a rooftop and frozen margs, need I say more). So one day when I had enough free time and before meeting up for dinner, I explored the Cambridge area hunting for good bookstores. That is how I stumbled upon some of the best news. Harvard Book Store has an annual summer sale at their warehouse location! So like any avid reader and deal hunter, I planned my whole weekend around attending their sale and it was magical. They had everything new books, old books, popular reads, they even had a sections for older, more rare books! I had to definitely reel myself in on a feel occasions just because I knew I had to carry everything I bought home and it was a long ride home.  It was certainly a workout hauling all of my new finds home but it was well worth it (I even got a coupon to use at their normal storefront!).

With my haul safely home, it goes without saying that I will be quite busy now with all my new books to read this summer. I still have plans to explore other bookshops around Boston this summer, my next one being More than Words Bookstore which is perfectly located near the Sowa Market.

Fun | SLIS | Summer | reading


The Summer Semester Has Begun!

The summer semester has begun!  This summer I am taking one class, LIS 404: Principles of Management.  Summer classes at SLIS are shorter in length than normal semester classes, but have the same amount of work.  My class this summer is only seven weeks long.  You may have noticed in Amie's post that she is also taking LIS 404, and we are both in the same online class section, so that's exciting! 

The really good thing about this class is that all of the course content is available, so we truly can move at our own pace.  There are due dates of course, but if I want to see what assignments are coming up, or work ahead, I have the option to do so.  For my summer course last year, there was a lot of "locked" course content, everyone had to move at the same pace.  I understand the logic behind that, but with the shortened time frame and so many things being due each week, I really appreciate being able to know what is coming up and schedule my time accordingly, instead of getting access to each week as it comes, and scheduling it that way.   When the Moodle page for the course first opened up, my original plan for this course was to try and stay a week ahead---that did not happen.  We're in to Week 2 now, and I am not ahead of the game.  I've been scheduling time every day to work on schoolwork, and I'm chugging along.  There's just so much content.  We have a paper, a crisis communications assignment, and two forums this week, along with readings, notes, and lectures.  All of the things we're learning about are incredibly interesting though. This week we're focusing on Organizational Structure and Communication.  I've been really fascinated by the readings this week because I was a Communication Studies major during undergrad and my concentration was in interpersonal and organizational communication, so I've been making connections with the content that I'm learning now with the content that I learned several years ago. 

This course is going to be a lot of hard work, and it is definitely going to keep me busy, but I'm up for the challenge!  

Classes | SLIS | Summer | Workload