Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Crunch Time

We've now entered the last two weeks of the semester, otherwise known as "crunch time." I have three end-of-semester projects on the horizon that I'm busily plugging away at. Now is the time when my kids get away with a little extra TV in the afternoons and I remind my husband daily, "just two more weeks...." The summer break is so close you can taste it, as it hovers like a sunny promise just out of reach. Oh how the pleasure reading and the hobbies and the home organization projects are calling! In my experience, you never know quite how the end will play out until it is suddenly upon you, but this semester (so far) I feel like the crunch won't be too bad.

The end of the semester is always an exciting time, and not just for the prospect of homework-free evenings. It represents the culmination of all we've been studying and working on throughout the semester and usually includes some kind of presentation in front of our peers. The project I'm most excited about is the database that I'm building. All semester in Database Management we've been going through the steps of designing our database conceptually while practicing our coding with sample tables. Now in these last few weeks, it's finally time to put our conceptual designs and coding knowledge into practice.

This means I've been spending significant portions of my week with a delightful little activity known as "debugging," which is basically diagnosing and solving problems with your code. You're grappling with a breakdown of communications between the human and the computer - something's been lost in the translation. Although it can be time-consuming and aggravating (some might say excruciating), I find the whole process extremely satisfying. If I've learned anything from my technology classes it's that there's always more than one solution. Sure you could find answers online or email your professor, but the most rewarding option is to work at it until you figure it out yourself. That moment when things suddenly become clear to you or the thing actually WORKS, you feel like you could conquer the world. Such a rush.

I know I've said this before, but if you come to library school with an open mind and a willingness to work hard, you will grow and develop in surprising ways. Wish me luck for the rest of crunch time!

Classes | Finals | SLIS | SLIS West | Technology


End of Semester Thoughts

I won't lie, y'all. It was hard for me to think of something to write about for my post today. I've actually been having a lot of trouble in that area where inspiration meets diligence lately...which, you might guess, and guess correctly, is not the nicest position to be in here at the end of semester when final papers and projects are due. Still, I'm showing up, and that's always a good first step!

Things are winding down, which is simultaneously a relief and bittersweet. It's surreal to think I'm almost done with my first year of the program (which flew by crazy fast), meaning I'm almost halfway through (how on earth did that happen?), meaning sooner rather than later I'll need to consider what I want to do and where I want to apply for jobs and live and start my actual adult life. Because strangely enough, I don't feel that it's started that yet. Being in school again makes me feel like I'm in a perpetual state of youth somehow. Anyway, I digress. Yes, things are all a bit crazy and up in the air, but I'd like to take some time and reflect on my experiences this spring and how grateful I am for each of them.

I just finished up a fantastic internship at Mount Auburn Cemetery. I had the privilege of volunteering in their historical collection, and on the few days where I had time and the weather wasn't a total buzzkill, I enjoyed a handful of serene walks through the property. I had not one, not two, but three classes this semester that required me to participate in regular discussions. I was pushed to not only participate more in class--I'm a bit on the reserved side, and am way more comfortable when it comes to putting words on paper than forming them into sentences that come out of my mouth--but I also had to engage more critically with the reading material than I would have if I knew I wasn't going to be talking about it. Finally, I was able to figure out a little more what I don't want to do. Example: I don't think that the paths of archivist or academic librarian are right for me, at least not at this point in my life, and the courses I took this semester helped me realize that. My mindset there is that those doors are closing so other ones can open.

I guess that about wraps it up! Hope all of you out there are enjoying some delightful spring weather. Please feel free to send some our way...Boston seems to have missed the memo that the season has officially changed...

SLIS


Job Hunt

Before I applied to Simmons, I did thorough research on the Master's of Library Science programs and what types of jobs you can get after you graduate.  Unfortunately, what I did not have was experience working in a library.  The only experience that I had working in a library was volunteering in middle school to help sign people up for the summer reading program (I'm pretty certain that doesn't count).  The thing that was stressed over and over in the information sessions that I attended before applying, and while meeting with my advisor, and in class was to get experience during your time at Simmons.  So, right now, I'm looking for that experience. 

The Archives Management concentration does require an internship course, LIS 438: Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, so I know I will get some experience when I take that class.  However, I'm not taking that class now so I'm hoping to find something before I take that class, whether it be a paid job, an internship, and/or more volunteer experience.  As I said before, SLIS really encourages getting work experience while at Simmons, so much so that they created the Simmons Jobline which advertises professional positions, pre-professional positions, internships, volunteer opportunities, and opportunities for current students.  The Jobline is an incredibly important tool and has been so useful to me in my job search. 

The SLIS program at Simmons is a professional program, so what I've found so far is that every reading, every assignment, every activity, and everything you learn in your classes is something useful and is something you can use in interviews.  You are not doing any busy work at SLIS- everything is for your future career.  Before I started this program, I actually had a few interviews at libraries and I wish I had the knowledge from the program to draw on, because then I might have a library job right now.  I recently had an interview for a part-time library position, and I felt it went so much better than the interviews I had before starting this program.  They've even called me back for a second interview.  Wish me luck, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes! 

If you are interested in the Simmons Jobline you can find it here here.

Getting a Job | Real World | SLIS


The Boston Marathon!

The Boston Marathon was yesterday and what a day for it! Being a new resident of the Northeast, I was not too keen on how big of a deal this was for the residents of Boston.  Of course, I have heard of the marathon, it is major, but being in the city to experience it first hand was a whole other thing.  Restaurants and bars offer free food and drinks to the runners, my local nail spa provided free manicures if you had a runner's bib, and that's what I noticed just walking down Beacon.

I have the pleasure of living only steps away from Beacon Street (not too great for studying- those cowbells are loud!), one of the last major stretches to the finish line on Boylston. First, the weather.  Holy moly. I am not a runner, but I can imagine this wasn't the most ideal condition for 26.2 miles of running.  What I understand is the streets are usually full of people cheering on the runners, but with yesterday's conditions, there were still so many people out with cowbells and cheering.  I happened to be in one of the less populated spots, so I made a point to go out and cheer these people on. I had the opportunity to run inside, warm up my hands, shake off the rain, and regroup, however.  It is amazing how the community comes together, conditions aside, to support everyone.  I imagined due to the horrific events five years ago this has created an even stronger community. The police and military presence made this all too real. However, it was a great comfort knowing these professionals were there to support and take care of the community.

Now that I am a Boston resident, it felt great to come together with Bostonians and people from around the country and world (!) to show support for these athletes.  I believe we had a student or two from Simmons who participated in this race as well. How amazing is that?

 Here are a few photos I snapped.  Desiree Linden! First American female to win in 33 years!

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Boston | Fun | New England | Weather


Living Grad School to the Fullest

This post was inspired by a guest speaker we had in academic libraries - a recent SLIS West graduate that many of us knew. Marco is now a Reference & Collection Development Librarian and he gave a wonderful interactive presentation about his current job. I remember taking Collection Development with Marco and it was inspiring to see how he had made that his work and now he was behind the podium, teaching us with the very same material he had been learning just the previous year. Marco was full of confidence and enthusiasm, and it made me feel very encouraged about the value of our preparation at grad school. Observing Marco gave me something to strive toward: a vision of what I hope to achieve after graduation.

Library school is a lot of work on its own: there are some weeks when all I can do is submit assignments on time and get myself to class in some semi-prepared fashion. But I'd like it to be more than that. I'd like this to be a time of discovery and exploration and self-invention. Ideally, my Simmons degree will set the course for my professional life. I'm learning more about the field and about my own interests within it, and seeking to tailor my educational experience to those passions. I'm making huge financial and personal sacrifices to obtain this degree - might as well get as much out of it as I can.

Now I could go on and list all the important things: networking and conference-attending and career counseling and student group involvement and all that. You should certainly plan to take advantage of all of these opportunities at school. There are some other "perks" to being a Simmons student as well, like discounted memberships to professional organizations, and free subscriptions to the New York Times and Lynda.com (a great resource for supplementing your education - check it out if you haven't already!). What I really want to say is that all these things are great, but they won't matter much if you don't have the WHY. I think what was so great about Marco's presentation is that it reminded me of all the whys of library school. To really get the most out of grad school you've got to have your heart in it, for librarianship truly is a labor of love.

Classes | SLIS | SLIS West | classes


Reflections

My goodness, it is hard to believe it has been two months since my last post! The time went by in a blur. So much has happened, I went on a trip to Vermont for some cross-country skiing; Played in some snow from the many Nor'easters; Visited the Eric Carle Picture Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts; wrote paper after paper; took a whirlwind tour of Washington DC; and read more books than I ever thought possible. To top it all off, Winter is edging towards Spring (slowly...oh so slowly it seems, but getting closer every day!), and somehow, I am almost done with my first year in grad school. Wow, where do I even begin?

Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts

Simmons maintains a close relationship with the Eric Carle Museum of picture book art in Amherst, Mass. Some students take classes there. Curious to see the museum I ventured out there, Amherst is a very interesting place, it was once the home of Emily Dickenson and many other literary figures visited. I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed "The Carle" as the Museum is called, it was exciting to see favorite pictures from books displayed as the Art they are, and to be inspired to read other books by looking at the art that lives inside. They also have an Art Room, where visitors can create, which made me happy. If you get a chance to go sometime, it is worth the stop.

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Vermont 

Vermont was beautiful. It's crazy, but with just a few hours' drive, one can enter a different world, a world with small towns nestled in valleys, tree covered mountains, and winding roads. It was so similar to home that I kept looking up and being surprised to find that the mountains in front of me had round tops rather than rocky peaks. A Narnia of my own.

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Nor'easter Experiences

The weather here has been an education in temperamental atmospherics, one day the temperatures will be in the 50's with sunshine, and flowers, and the next day we are told that there is a big storm bringing snow our way. You may have heard of some of the storms on the news, some places on the Coast had very dramatic experiences. Luckily, I wasn't affected too badly, just got a few snow days from school, but I do wish Spring would come and stick around for a while.

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Washington D.C.

Over St. Patrick's Day weekend, I had the chance to see Washington D.C. I really only had one day and a night in the Capitol, but I tried to make it worth it. I had never been before, so I visited the monuments on the National Mall, the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, The Botanical Gardens, and even got to see a show at the Kennedy Center. It was exhilarating, and awe-inspiring! All that history everywhere. In addition, it was warmer in D.C. and the Cherry Blossoms were almost out, so it was a nice break

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Updates

I cannot believe how quickly this semester has gone by!  It's already the second week of April, and I only have three weeks left in this semester.  As I mentioned in my previous post, last week was Fall 2018 registration, and this fall I am taking LIS 488, which is Technology for Information Professionals.  I'm not going to lie, I am a bit nervous about taking that class because while I am a child of the Internet, and I know my way around a number of technological devices, I do not know much about coding and programming.  However, I have heard nothing but encouraging things about this class, and I am eager to learn new skills. 

In other news, I have officially decided to take a class this summer.  I have signed up, and I have organized my schedule so that it will fit, and I am ready to go!  I am taking LIS 415, which is Information Organization.  Admittedly, I was hoping to actually make it to Main Campus for my next class, meet people (in real life), and get some public transportation practice in while the weather is nice, but alas, that will not be happening, for this class is only online during the summer.   However, the more this semester has gone on, the more I have come to appreciate online classes.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I would have never been able to travel this semester without the flexibility of the online class, and I'm sure I will continue to appreciate that flexibility and convenience this summer. 

If you're interested in seeing what other courses Simmons SLIS offers, you can do so here.

SLIS | Summer | classes


Comprehensive Reading List and Learning to Love Old Genres

Are you an avid reader and stuck in a genre? I certainly was before I attended Simmons. I have my preferred genre's and have difficulty convincing myself to read something different. Especially when it comes down to books I read for pleasure.  In the Children's Literature program, you will be reading a lot of books.  I was so overwhelmed at the beginning of the semester, the few books I brought with me from Texas to read in my "spare" time sat on my little bookshelf collecting dust.  Each week I had anywhere from two-five books to read. While these books are young adult books, some of them falling into my preferred genre, there were some I was not too excited for.  It had been quite some time since I read anything outside of fantasy so when books like The Boxcar Children (a book I loved as a child), Little House in the Big Woods, or Happy Endings are All Alike showed up on our reading list, I was a bit apprehensive.  However, as each week has gone by this semester I have diligently read through each of these books and been pleasantly surprised.  I knew I enjoyed reading a wide range of books as a child but reading some of these genres an adult didn't seem likely to inspire me.  Boy, I was wrong!  All of these books have been great in their own right. I am so happy to have read them, especially from an adult perspective. Children's literature is rich with complexity.

 Of course, I knew by coming to Simmons I would not only be reading Fantasy books, I would probably bet burned out on the subject if so.  All I knew is that I had a deep interest in reading, authors, and writing and that Simmons was the school that would offer me the most thorough education on all things Children's Literature.  I was up for the challenge even if I knew I had to push myself a bit.  I heard on the podcast 88 Cups of Tea, an interview with V.E. Schwab, and she said that she reads about 100 books a year. At that, she reads ALL different genres. The point of this is that you cannot grow as a writer and a reader if you do not expand your knowledge of what it is in the industry.  I thought this was great advice.  It has proven true with my first semester here at Simmons.  My To-Be-Read pile has significantly expanded and I have rekindled my appreciation of long-forgotten genres. 

 P.S. I have found the time to read books in my spare time! I was too adamant about spending every waking hour reading for class that I had convinced myself I did not have time for fun books.  I have reconsidered this because I was going mad, and I believe it is important to allow yourself at least 10 minutes of free reading time with a book of your own choosing.

 Until next time!

Children's Literature | classes | reading


My Unexpected Library Class

If you are like me, you'll come to library school with some idea of what librarianship looks like and what subjects your course of study may include. I can tell you that there are plenty of courses that you might expect, such as subject cataloging, history of the book, collection development, and library programs and services. But you will also find courses that you might not expect, like usability and user experience, knowledge management, web development, and information visualization. The fact of the matter is, there will be more classes offered that you want to take than you can fit into your program. Library school is both too long and way too short. If you're curious about Simmons' course offerings, you can view the full course catalog here.

Database management is one of those unexpected classes that I'm so excited to be taking. My interest in databases dates back to my internship at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the day my staff sponsor asked me if I had any knowledge or experience with Microsoft Access. I didn't, and so I performed all my tasks in Excel with the impression that it was not fully adequate for my assignment. Microsoft Access (and relational databases in general) was only a vague concept to me back then, but for some reason it stuck in my mind as something I wanted to learn. Fast forward to my first semester at Simmons and an assignment in the technology core class to create a technology tutorial. What did my partner and I choose? Microsoft Access.

Now my latent curiosity of 8 years is finally brought to fruition in a class all about databases. We are learning about database design (a combination of art + science), the various programming languages involved (HTML, SQL, PHP), issues surrounding data security and privacy, and recently, the process of knowledge discovery in databases. What I love about this class (besides the coolest instructor of all time) is that the skills and knowledge that we're gaining have wide applicability - certainly across libraries, museums, and archives but out into other fields as well. Knowledge discovery is a whole separate field in itself and databases are like a bridge of commonality between it and library science. I would love to work in traditional libraries and archives but I would also love it if my degree took me somewhere a little more unexpected. For some examples of this, check out Simmons' blog/podcast Beyond the Stacks: http://beyondthestacks.info/.

Keep an open mind when you come to library school - you may discover your most interesting and exciting opportunities lie outside the box of "traditional" librarianship.

Librarians | SLIS | SLIS West | Technology | classes


Bookish Thoughts

 In mid-February my program hosted a live streaming of the ALA (American Library Association) Youth Media Award ceremony, we gathered together and had breakfast and cheered when books we recognized or loved were awarded. It was enjoyable and eye opening.

What was interesting to me was that while I recognized some of the awards, like the Newberry and the Caldecott. I was amazed to discover that all told twenty awards are given out at this time, many of which I had never heard of.  A few of the new-to-me awards are listed below:

To find out about some of the other awards, visit the ALA website

The award event, and some of the discussions that followed also prompted some questions, and musings that have stayed in the back of my mind ever since. These questions include:

 

  • What does it mean that there are so many awards given?
  • Why haven't I heard of so many of the awards?
  • What is the purpose of giving a book an award?
  • Is a book with an award more important than one without an award? Why or why not?
  • What is being recognized by these awards? What is not?
  • What sort of awards might we see in the future?
  • Who determines what awards are given?
  • How are awards beneficial?
  • How might awards be potentially harmful?
  • What sort of things does our society value in literature?
  • How or why do those values change?

Books | SLIS


What I'm Reading Lately

I haven't put together a proper book list in quite some time, and I figure this is one of the best places to post such a thing. I'll tell you a little bit about some of the books I've read so far this year...I'm about halfway to my goal of 30, which is exciting..., what I'm in the middle of, and what's waiting for me!

Stalking God by Anjali Kumar- I just finished this one a couple of days ago, so it's still pretty present with me. I came across Kumar in a TED talk she gave that about made my heart burst, and when I found out that she wrote about her experiences in greater detail in this book, I had to get my hands on it. Kumar's journey, self-described as unorthodox, is full of ups and downs and fascinating turns as she hunts for big answers about the meaning of life and a spiritual home for her young daughter. I applaud her for her bravery and for sharing her beautiful insights about what bonds us together in our shared human experience.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert- This has easily become one of my favorite books about creativity and living a creative life. Ever. I really like Liz Gilbert, and her insights here are fresh, light, and inspiring. It's a quick and easy read, and I found myself going back through and taking notes once I was done because there was so much I loved and didn't want to forget.

This is one of my favorite quotes: "Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise--you can make anything."

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman- Okay, I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is the first book I've ready by Gaiman! It's like I've been admiring him from a distance for years, so it was about time I picked up one of his works. I'm about halfway through, but so far I think this is a great collection of tales about the Norse pantheon. I genuinely laugh out loud at any interaction between Loki and Thor, who also happen to be favorites of mine in the Marvel universe. I'm excited to finish the rest, and I've already got my eye on two other Gaiman novels, American Gods and Coraline.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison- I discovered this collection of essays after following some bread crumbs on the Internet via another book list! It received a fair number of accolades upon its release in 2014, and I was intrigued by the questions Jamison asked on the back cover, as I've asked them myself on more than one occasion: How should we care about one another? How can we feel another person's pain? I'm certainly curious to see what answers she found.

I could go on, but I'm sure this will suffice. I'm looking forward to the weather warming up enough so I can actually take one of these books, grab a spot on a bench outside, and sip on some iced tea while soaking up the sun. It's a nice daydream. Maybe once the semester's over and spring FINALLY decides to show up... :)

Books | Fun | Relaxing


School and Stress

I'm in the final push of my first semester of grad school.  I just checked Moodle for my online class and I only have four weeks left.  FOUR WEEKS.  This semester has been so amazing, but unfortunately it is currently the most stressful part of the semester with readings, essays, online forums, and final projects being due soon.  Add real-life interference and Fall 2018 class registration being this week and that leads to stress.  Here are some things that I am doing to combat stress that may be useful in your life:

  • Make a list:  Making a list of everything that needs to be done and checking things off of it as those things get done actually can be very soothing because you can really see what has and has not been done.
  • Walk:  My mom has always stressed the power of walking, and how much good it can do for you, and I never actually believed her until I went to college, and I got stressed while writing a paper.  I went on a walk, and then I returned to my paper, completely refreshed and de-stressed.  I might change this to "walk away" but the point still stands- walking works.  Or if you don't like walking, any type of exercise works.
  • Get enough sleep: To be completely honest, I'm not exactly following this one due to real-life interference at the moment but getting at least 8 hours of sleep is important for everyone, and really helps cut down on the stress. 
  • Drink more water: The more water you drink, the better you will feel. 
  • Take deep breaths:  I was introduced to the concept of "square breathing" during high school.  Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds.  If this doesn't work for you, just take deep breaths, or do whatever works! 
  • Stretch:  Often times our muscles cramp when we're hunched over working at our computers or when we are leaning over when reading books or taking notes, so stretching can help. 
  • Talk it out: Talking with someone about what's going on is always helpful to me.

I hope some of these methods will help you as you tackle the stress in your life.

Classes | Finals | Students


An Apprehensive Baseball Fan

Baseball Season is upon on. Opening games were just last week! I was never one to really watch baseball on television (so long!), but I did enjoy watching the World Series last year (ASTROS!).  I do enjoy going to games because everything's more fun in person in my opinion.  Plus, it's a chance to drink beer and partake in the food I usually would not. Hello junk food! I learned a bit about the game by watching the World Series, which I mean, the most elementary fundamentals of the game. Enough to watch, cheer, understand, but still feed my always curious brain so I can ask ridiculous questions most baseball fans will roll their eyes at. I don't care because it's a learning opportunity. Right? I have a feeling that this year things will change for me as a baseball fan.  The Red Sox are literally just around the corner from us here at Simmons, and it's across the street from my work, so I am expecting to be inundated with all things Sox this season.  I must say I am a tad freightened by the level of fandom I am sure will precede the games and who knows after a win!

 I have been told to avoid the T at all cost on game days (no problem, Boston is a great, walkable city). Also, I was advised to download their schedule to stay on top of home games. Which I did and have provided a link to which has an easy downloadable schedule to whatever devise you prefer. I hope to see my first Sox game sometime this spring and summer here (whenever they decide to arrive!) though I may test out the waters the first time around. I am a Texas girl through and through, but I think I can find room in my heart to support the Red Sox. They're one of the many reasons Boston is the strong, proud city that I see it to be, and I can get behind that.

https://www.mlb.com/redsox/fans/downloadable-schedule

Boston | Fun


Librarian Advice

Spring break has come and gone (while we're still waiting for actual spring to arrive) which means we're entering the second half of the semester. It's amazing to me how different this semester has been from my last. In the fall I had the same number of classes and the same number of credits, but 20 hours a week was barely enough time to complete all the assignments and I struggled to keep up with the reading (I was also doing my 60-hour archives internship). This semester, 20 hours a week feels fairly sufficient, and my current two classes require lighter reading and fewer written assignments.

Last Saturday we had one of our Day-in-the-Life lunchtime programs that could have been called "Personalized Advice from a Career Librarian." It was awesome. These lunchtime events are one of the best things about SLIS West. There's free food and the opportunity to mingle with classmates and librarians from around the area. Saturday's speaker was Barbara Friedman, current part-time director of Erving Library with nearly fifty years of library experience. We had a small group sitting around the table in the SLIS West office, so Ms. Friedman allowed each of us to tell her a little bit about ourselves, to which she then responded with some career/library advice. What she told me has changed my entire outlook.

I've always felt that my situation of being unemployed for the past 6 years and busy raising my young children puts me at a disadvantage in terms of getting somewhere with my degree. Most of my classmates are busy earning their library degree and accumulating real-world library experience at the same time. All of the job ads that I see require both a MLIS and a certain amount/type of professional experience. The MLIS is not a "golden ticket" all on its own (spoiler alert).

After I somewhat sheepishly admitted to Ms. Friedman the circumstances of my life that I saw as limitations, she expounded on several reasons why these are not limitations at all. She told me about some of the interesting library opportunities she found while raising her own children (like organizing the private library of a wealthy Connecticut couple!). I realized that while I may not be able to independently choose where I go or what I do, I don't have the pressure of supporting myself financially with my degree. I can work part-time or volunteer for a while and hopefully be able to gain a variety of experiences.

I am grateful to have found a program like SLIS West that fits my situation and my family's needs. I am grateful for a small program, with opportunities like personalized advice from a career librarian. I do worry about the future, and about what will happen after I graduate. But I know that I've chosen the right field and I'm prepared to enjoy whatever path it takes me down.

Events | Librarians | Real World | SLIS West


In Case of Free Time

Due to some marvelous twist of fate, I indeed have some of this coveted free time mentioned in the title, even in the midst of three classes, two part-time jobs, and an internship. Phew. Did I mention that the twist of fate was marvelous? Of course, a fair amount of said free time is spent taking care of important things (i.e. homework & blessed, blessed sleep) along with the everyday banalities of life. But how else to fill in those special gaps of nothingness? Here's how it looks for me:

I still read for pleasure. Honestly, I've found it impossible to stop! I tote books around to read on my train or bus commute, and I've joined a couple of different book clubs in the area. I was a little shy to jump in at first, but they've helped me be motivated to read new things regularly, and I'm also getting to meet some great new people.

FYI- the Meetup app is an awesome way to get plugged into groups like this!

Speaking of great new people, there are a lot of them all around me in my classes and at work. It's been wonderful to befriend a few and be able to hang out when our schedules allow. While I love being alone and need the space to recharge my inner battery, as we all do, I feel like making the time to be social and branch out has played a big part in enriching my life here.

Last but not least, I get creative. Literally. For me, this takes the form of writing. Whether it's journaling or blogging or whipping out some kind of prose, it doesn't matter. I've found that honoring the innovative force within helps me be more focused during other parts of my day, and hey, it also makes me real happy.

I guess that's the point I'm trying to make to us both--find what brings you joy, and do that. Take care of yourself. And don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! Rinse and repeat.

Fun | Real World | SLIS | Students


Travelling and Books

As I mentioned in my last post, I am in California!  It is currently a balmy 72 degrees outside, and I am enjoying the break from winter (although it has apparently warmed up in Massachusetts since I left). 

One of the (very few) benefits of a long six-hour flight from Boston to San Diego is that it gives you a long, uninterrupted period of time to read.  As a future librarian, I obviously love to read and am a hardcore bibliophile, and I always am grateful for any opportunity to read.  Unfortunately, my life has been pretty busy lately, so I haven't had much time for leisure reading in the past few months, but as I said, the flight gave me some time to catch up. 

Here are some of the books that I read (or in one case re-read) on my flight, all of which I recommend to you:

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
    • Admittedly this was a re-read, but I love this book to pieces, and I had not picked this book up in over a decade.  Meg Murry was one of my childhood literary heroes, and this young adult science fiction novel is one of my favorites.  There is also a movie adaption that is currently in theaters
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosselini
    • This is an emotional and moving book about two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become intertwined in this story that spans several generations.  The author also wrote the book The Kite Runner. 
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    • One of the biggest books of 2017, it is also Gail Honeyman's debut novel.  It's about a young woman, Eleanor Oliphant, who is a lonely introvert with a troubled past who comes into her own and starts to connect with others throughout the novel. 
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
    • This is a World War II era novel based on real events.  It intertwines three narratives, the story of Kasia Kuzmerick, Polish teenager who is a fictional character based on several real Ravensbrück prisoners; Caroline Ferriday, a real wealthy woman who ended up bringing a large group of Ravensbrück survivors to the United States for medical treatment; and Herta Oberheuser, a real ruthless Nazi surgeon who performed repugnant experiments on women at Ravensbrück. 

I wish you happy reading during you travels!

Books


New Student Orientation and Meeting People- Make Friends!

If you get the chance to attend Simmons, try and go to the new student orientation.  It's a great opportunity not only to see the campus and introduce yourself but to meet fellow students who are new to the program as well. This has been a lifesaver for me, mainly because I moved up here not knowing anyone.  There were only four of us at the Spring orientation, and we all ended up being in the same classes.  I feel that this has made us into a little pack this semester where we help each other in a variety of ways. One way, being new students and new to Boston, we can chat about challenges we encounter living in Boston. Most of these conversations have to do with the MBTA system and apartment searching.  I'm currently grilling my friends from the 'burbs about what they like, don't like, and how the commute is, because, in case you didn't know, Boston is a wee bit expensive guys.  Look for roommates if possible!

The other super important part about making friends in the program is that you can form study groups and brainstorm.  Graduate school is not easy, and when you have friends who are going through it with you, it is nice to feel you're not alone in all the chaos.  This has helped me out tremendously.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed in a new city, state, and school. Knowing other people feel the same takes away some of the overwhelming aspects of it all.

To sum up, because we are mid-semester (what?!) and spring is around the corner (hopefully), I am finding my small group of friends who are in the same position as me super helpful this time of year.  There are projects, papers, presentations to be done, and just having another human being to discuss these deadlines with is so helpful.  Even if you are a shy introvert like myself, go to new student orientation and make a buddy or two.  You will be happy you did. 

SLIS


Conference Thoughts

So, let's talk about conferences. I knew that librarians had conferences before I came to library school. While I worked at an academic library in Virginia, I went to two of them. One was for the state library association, and the other was some kind of interlibrary-loan specific conference. Somehow this did not prepare me for how many library/archives conferences there would be happening in New England. As library students, we get plenty of emails about them and hear a lot about why we should be attending them. Students are even encouraged to submit papers and be presenters.

Conferences are a great opportunity but they are difficult to attend. Most of them are a good distance from your home, necessitate overnight stay, require missing class or work (and in my case, lots of babysitting), and charge registration fees. Simmons and sponsoring organizations make a good effort to mediate these demands by offering professional development reimbursements, travel awards, and scholarships for students. These efforts are nice but they also require some time and work on the part of the student.

I've been dutifully reading all the conference emails, and I finally found one that looked feasible. It was the joint spring meeting of the New England Archivists (NEA) and Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART). It was being held in New Haven, CT (only 45 minutes from my house!) and the conference was offering reasonable early-bird and student discounts. Thanks to some encouraging emails from our SLIS West program director, I decided to jump on the opportunity.

The conference was this past weekend, and I attended Friday only. Even though I had some reservations about spending an entire extra day away from the kids and sitting through about six hours of educational programming (and then waking up early on Saturday for a full day of class), I was so glad that I went! I spotted some fellow SLIS West folks as soon as I entered the main room, and I did not feel as out-of-place there as I thought I might. It was really nice to just sit back and soak it all in. It's kind of exciting to be in a huge room of strangers and feel like you're with "your people," because everyone there is speaking the same language (of archives).

All of the sessions and speakers were very interesting to me (except for the one on digital preservation which went right over my head), and I came home charged up with good ideas. Those ideas showed up in my life as early as the next day, when I was using them in class. My favorite session was about archiving the web - what a fascinating project! I got a good introduction to it and got to hear from three different web archivists. I'll definitely be thinking about web archiving and looking out for opportunities as I move forward.

Conferences are great for students because they give you an opportunity to learn more about your field in a way that you might not get in class. They give you a glimpse into what's happening right now and afford wonderful networking opportunities. Conferences are difficult to attend, but totally worth it if you can find one close by or apply for financial assistance. 

Librarians | SLIS | SLIS West | conferences


My Simmons Journey

It's officially spring time, but you wouldn't guess it if you were to peer outside the window right about now. There are heaps of snow on the ground--remnants of our fourth nor'easter this month--and the sky is grey and overcast. I'm curled up at home and sipping on a mug of spiced tea, and today I'd like to share a little bit about how I got to Simmons in the first place and where I'm tentatively heading next. And by next I mean figuring out what classes I'm taking in the fall semester. Nothing too long-term at this point!

I'll be honest. I applied here on a whim. I was at a juncture in my life where I needed to make some kind of radical change, and I thought to myself, "Why not dig up that childhood dream of yours to be a librarian and see if you can make that happen?" I was giddy at the idea, and then my rational brain chimed in to tell me that while that was cute, I had next to no library work experience, my social sciences undergraduate degree seemed a bit disjointed with the LIS field, and I had been out of school for a few years already and might not cut it in a competitive master's program. I was doing a swell job of convincing myself that I didn't belong, which of course made me less giddy. But a good friend of mine who went to school down the street at Wheelock rallied behind me and suggested I look into Simmons. I gathered some information and liked what I found, decided to fill out and send off all the necessary things, and waited in a fair amount of agony for the acceptance letter that eventually came just over a year ago.

By some combination of miracle, gumption, and a whole lot of caffeine I'm almost halfway through the program, which is hard to believe. I'm learning a ton, and I really do think I'm in one of the best cities to be educated in LIS. I'm figuring out what it is that I like to do and what type of career I might want to go into. For example, I watched how paper conservation is carried out at the Massachusetts Historical Society earlier this week and thought it was one of the coolest things ever. It's something I want to know more about and maybe even seek some training for. The options are plentiful.

Next up, I'm hoping to take coursework Rare & Special Collections and Archival Access and Use, along with my personal favorite, The Medieval Manuscript from Charlemagne to Gutenberg. Shout-out to my advisor who has been so encouraging and helpful throughout this winding road of decision-making. Wherever I end up this fall, next spring, and to infinity and beyond, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be interesting.

SLIS


Online Classes

Simmons SLIS has a variety of ways you can take classes.  They offer classes on the ground at the Boston campus, SLIS West (South Hadley, MA), and the Eric Carle Museum (Amherst, MA), blended classes with some sessions on the ground and some online, and fully online classes. The flexibility in class scheduling is something that is unique to Simmons and was one of the factors that helped me select Simmons as the place to get my graduate degree. 

As I mentioned in my first blog post, I am going the online route this semester.  One of the great things about taking online classes is that you can do it from anywhere.  Well, anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection that is.

One of the reasons why I decided to go to school online was because I am new to Massachusetts and I wasn't sure if I could get from my home, which is about 20 miles outside of Boston, to classes in Boston in the snow.  The way the past few weeks have gone, with several nor'easters in a short amount of time, I'm not sure I could have gotten to Boston and back with all of the fallen trees and power outages.  I'm getting more used to the snow and I now know my way around the public transportation system, but I still think doing online was the way to go for my first semester. 

Another reason why I chose to take online classes this semester is because I'm planning on going to California for a wedding and staying to visit with family for a while afterwards.  I'm leaving tomorrow (fingers crossed!) and the flexibility of the online classes is the only reason why I am even able to attend.  As I said before, online classes give you the ability to do your work from anywhere that has a Wi-Fi connection, so it can be incredibly convenient and accessible. 

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