Student Snippets


The SLIS Buffet

Hello again! I'm getting ready to register for classes in a few days, and I'm going to explain the way I'm feeling in true English major fashion -- via metaphor.  

I feel as though I am at a Chinese buffet, overwhelmed by mouth watering scents, and surrounded by delicious food. I've already grabbed a tiny bit of scallion pizza, a donut, and a tiny bit of sesame stir fry, and about to go up for round two. But, just as I bounce over to the serving trays, someone walks over and informs me that I can only take NINE MORE BITES of food.

As someone who (both in terms of course work and Chinese food) likes to sample a bit of everything, I can't help but feel a bit distraught. In my advising meeting with Laura Saunders, I arrived armed in true future-librarian fashion) with a color coded Google doc, in which I had ranked by preferred courses per semester.

That said, I know I will be taking LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals, to complete my program requirements. I'm a little nervous about the tech aspect of the course, but have heard good things about patient professors! I have minimal html coding background as someone who grew up /blogging/, but I'm eager to learn. Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

Because my ultimate life goal is to work as Reference Librarian at a public library, it would also follow that I'm planning to sign up for LIS 450: Public Libraries, as well as LIS 453: Collection Management and Development. If everything works out, LIS 453 will be my first ever online course. I'm sure that will give me all sorts of content to blog about for my loyal readers.

Bonus content: Last week I attended the opening reception for a friend from home//high school's artwork at Turtle Swamp Brewing in Jamaica Plain. It was so good to catch up after what we later figured out was 8(!!!!) years! The great beer and fabulous artwork was just an added perk!

Shameless plug: check out her work here

I'm heading to my alma mater (Mount Holyoke!!!) this weekend to see Keith Hamilton Cobb's American Moor, which is his one man adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello! I'm renting a car for the first time, so it's sure to be an adventure! Check back for updates in my next blog post!  


Fun | SLIS | classes

Keep On Keeping On

Well I survived "hump week" even though I had to drive up to class and back (and give a presentation) on about three hours of sleep. If you've been reading the other posts on this blog I think you'll recognize a common theme: school is really hard and busy right now and we're all exhausted. Actually I gave myself a tiny break from school work the first part of this week, mainly because I had so much housework and other things to catch up on. It was nice to have a short breather, but I am back at it today because the end of the semester is going to come up VERY quickly.

At the SLIS West office on Saturday we had a special day-in-the-life guest speaker: Amanda Pizzollo! Amanda was the SLIS West blogger before me and graduated the same year that I started. It was great to see her again (I am kicking myself that I did not get a photo for the blog) and hear all about her job at Amherst College as a metadata librarian. A large portion of her work involves describing archival objects and I was able to follow right along with everything she demonstrated in her presentation because we've been talking about the very same things in my archives class this semester. I'm fascinated by the ways in which the library, archives, and other cultural heritage fields intersect and I'd love to find myself in a professional position that straddles these separate - but related - disciplines. I think that's the main reason I'm so interested in the metadata class: because metadata plays an important role in so many contexts.

Anyway, sorry for the short post again. This time next week I'll be enjoying Thanksgiving with my family down in Virginia and registration will be behind us - meaning my final semester will be charted and mapped! Wishing everyone good luck with the weather and holiday travels!

SLIS West | Students

Nonstop Action!

In my last post, when I said "life is getting pretty hectic," that was an understatement.  I thought my description was accurate last week, but I was just part of the way through the mountain of work that awaited me.  Since last week, I have gotten sick (get your flu shots everybody!), completed yet another huge project, have tried (and succeeded) to keep up with my weekly labs and readings, and have begun to think about my final project.  Additionally, this is registration week!  I've been talking about my plan for a while and it is now time to put that plan into motion! 

This has been a week of nonstop action, with not a lot of time to rest (which I can tell you from experience, is not the best thing for being sick).  In fact, I had my first all-nighter of grad school this past week!  I don't usually pull all-nighters (I think I only had to do it twice in undergrad) because I really need to stay on a good sleep schedule to function properly, but sometimes life piles up on you and you have to do whatever is necessary to get the work done.  Late nights (or in my case this week, all-nighters) are an unfortunate reality of being a student, and even more so during the final push of the semester.   I'm really proud of the work that I'm accomplishing for my program though, which makes these late nights easier to bear.  Right now, the material is getting a bit harder in my class.  We just finished our unit on Javascript, and those labs were a bit more difficult than the previous labs.   However, as I've said before, I would have never taken this class had it not been a requirement, and I'm so glad that I'm learning all of these new skills.  I have learned so many new things in these past weeks such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript, and in these next few weeks I'm sure I'll be learning a lot more. 

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday next week! 

Classes | SLIS | Students

Wait...It's almost Thanksgiving?!

So it's November. Already. I'm not sure where September and October went but apparently it's the past. These first few weeks of grad school have been a whirlwind and when friends and family ask me what I've been up to my brain just goes blank and my response is always something along the lines of "library things" and "school stuff".

Being halfway through the semester is both exciting and terrifying. I'm glad to be done with some of my projects but I still have a ways to go before the semester is over. I love my classes but I am very excited for Thanksgiving for a little time to breath in between all the craziness of papers, group projects, and final assignments. Since I am taking all my the 3 core courses this semester the workload has been heavy, especially since I'm taking 415 and 407 back to back on Thursdays (hello overlapping deadlines!).

I've survived midterms though, which means I've survived three group projects all due the same week! Nothing like group assignments to teach you valuable life lessons in communication. I have never been the biggest fan of them in undergrad but in grad school there is definitely a difference. So far majority of my group members have been amazing, since we are all genuinely interested in the same field and all want to succeed and care about learning the material. Group projects are still a tricky field to navigate though especially when everyone has their own schedules and commitments but nothing our good friend Google docs can't handle. In one of my groups we even Skyped in a classmate since they weren't able to make it because they were sick in bed (true dedication I never saw in undergraduate).

As I keep chugging along on the struggle bus that is grad school life, I'm starting to feel more confident in my abilities. I'm doing well in my classes, I'm having fun exploring Boston with new friends, and I'm even getting used to the cold (no I'm not, that's a lie but maybe if I tell myself that enough it will become true). I'm optimistic to see where the next semester will take me since registration is so soon! I'm sure next semester will hold just as many exciting new challenges especially since I plan on taking all online classes (something I have not done in some time) and will being taking the 438 Intro to Archives classes with the required internship. Oh and the biggest challenge of all...SNOW!


SLIS | classes

Hump Week

I've dubbed this week "hump week" because I have major assignments due in BOTH of my classes on Saturday. They are the last assignments before our final projects, so it's the last "hump" of the semester before the final hump. As such, this will be a brief post just to check in and confirm I'm still alive after last night's adventures of writing papers and monitoring a child with a bad case of croup. I'd like to say it gets easier as you progress in your program and get into the rhythm of schoolwork, but that hasn't been the case for me. Each semester has brought fresh new challenges, and each has necessitated some late nights and bouts of stress and anxiety. The fact that getting your library degree might be your dream or passion doesn't make it any easier, but it does make the work more meaningful.

We are more than halfway through the semester (only four classes left!) and it is just flying by. If my spring schedule shakes out as planned and I take preservation for two weeks in January and then an online class, it means that these are the last weeks of me spending Saturdays at SLIS West. This is the last time I'll drive through Holyoke in the fall, the last time I'll be enjoying lunches in the SLIS West office, and the last time I spend Friday evenings gathering supplies and turning in early. I feel both happy and sad. As I observe each semester's new crop of students, I reflect on where I was at the very beginning and where I am now. What do I know now that I didn't know then? I'll save that discussion for another time when I have more energy, but one thing is for sure. When this is all over, I'm going to be pretty darn proud of what I've accomplished.

Librarians | SLIS | SLIS West | classes

Registration Part 2!

I have an update on my last post!  So my desk is completely covered in Pro/Con lists, and I have officially decided to not take LIS 438: Introduction to Archival Methods and Services next semester, therefore delaying my decision on deciding what to do about my concentration and instead just take an elective.  I know at the end of my post last week it seemed like I had talked myself into doing that, but then I started going back and forth again, but now I have decided!  The world, and course catalog, is my oyster!  So many wonderful choices!  I'm now trying to decide between a few different classes.  I'm planning on continuing to do what I've done for the past few semesters and only take one class.  Between work, my personal life, and financially, taking one class a semester has really worked for me.  Also, unless if I can find a Saturday class that works for me, or a blended class that has a really good time, because of my work schedule next semester, I think I'm going to go the online route again.  I'm trying to pick a class I will enjoy and that will be useful in my career, which is pretty much all of them!  Even though all the classes sound so interesting, I don't want to waste my choice this semester.  Simmons puts out a tentative two-year class schedule with the course number, location, whether it's face-to-face or online, and the semester it'll be taught in, so I'm trying to pick strategically.  Another reason why I'm picking strategically is in case if I do decide to continue on with the Archives Management concentration.  If I decide to continue on with the concentration, I only get 4 electives, and the rest will all be archives and preservation courses.  If I switch to the Design Your Own path, I get 9 electives.  So, in case if I decide to continue on with Archives, I want to be sure I'm picking one that I really want (but honestly, all of the classes sound interesting which is why this is so hard).  I have a few different classes in my Preferred Section on Simmons Connection to choose between.  I'm deciding between LIS 403: Evaluation of Information Services, LIS 451: Academic Libraries, and LIS 490: International and Comparative Librarianship.  All three classes sound so interesting!  I may add a few different classes to choose from in the run up to registration though.  LIS 451 would probably be the class that would be the most useful for my current job, as I'm currently working as a reference assistant in an academic library; however, all of the classes sound fantastic, and hopefully I'll be able to get in to one of them! 

Aside from registration decisions, life is getting pretty hectic.  There's about a month left in the semester, and we just had a huge project due last week, I have another project due next week, and that's not even mentioning our weekly labs and final project!  Between work, registration decisions, school, and my personal life, I'm really starting to look forward to Thanksgiving, when most of my assignments and projects will be done and turned in, registration will be over, and I can relax (for a few days).   This stressful time comes every semester, and I dread it, but I'm always proud of the work I've accomplished and the things I've learned when I'm done. 

If you want to learn more about the courses that SLIS offers, click here!

Librarians | Online | SLIS | Students | classes

Public Transport Rant: The Good, The Bad, and The Super Delayed T

Being from a small town in Florida means that for most of my life, I have had pretty regular access to a car. My high school didn't even have a school bus option for where I lived. The closest grocery store was under 5 miles away but there was no direct bus line and if you wanted to walk it would be through 90 degree weather and 100% humidity, not my ideal afternoon out. Also subway systems in Florida just don't exist since Florida is basically sand. So moving to Boston and having so many public transportation options is a super new concept for me.

I'll start by saying that I am very lucky to have been able to live with my cousin whose from MA and lived in Boston for a little over a year, so when I arrived in August I had a guide waiting with a Charlie Card for me. I still remember though my first T ride alone following along on my phone with google maps. I quickly learned my stops and all the different ways I could get to campus from my apartment.

I haven't quite nailed my timing right (it always seems like the bus or the T pass by right as I'm walking up to the stop) but I've certainly become more comfortable then when I first got here. My secret to successful public transport travel is to always expect the worse. The T will be late, crowded, and it will take forever (especially on the B line, don't get me started on all those BU stops!). Even today I had missed my regular bus since it was a few minutes earlier than normal. Taking public transport is a great exercise in patience and it is all about planning your commute ahead of time and never trusting google maps arrival times or the plethora or apps that give you estimated arrivals (ProximiT is the one I use and it is quite thrilling to watch the timer jump from 2 minutes to 20 minutes while you are waiting for the bus in 36 degree weather after your evening class).

Regardless of all the struggles that come with taking public transport and all the fears I had moving to Boston without a car, I think it was the best option for me. Not having to worry about parking (or paying for parking!) outweighs the stress of waiting for the bus in the cold. Also if I'm not in a rush, Boston is a very walkable city (which is very helpful since I have on occasion been known to have a cannolis for dinner and need that extra bit of exercise). It takes just under an hour to get to campus from my apartment walking, which is basically the same amount of time it would take if I took the B line all the way to Kenmore and then a bus to campus.


Boston | New England | SLIS

Next Level Research Paper-ing

I think it would be really interesting to know exactly how many research papers I have written in my life. You would think with all my years of academic experience that I'd be getting better and better at writing papers, that each one would be just a bit more polished (or at least easier) than the last. But for some reason, every time I start a new paper it feels like I'm starting over, back at square one. Choosing a topic is so hard. Reading and sorting through all that literature and selecting the most relevant and important bits takes so much time and work. Generating creative analysis and original thought involves some secret formula that I still haven't mastered. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

You will not have many tests at Simmons SLIS, but you will have lots of papers. As you may have guessed, I'm working on a big research paper due at the end of the semester for my archives class. This time our professor has really upped the ante by requesting "publishable" papers. Yikes. So I've attempted to get an early start because I take academic challenges seriously. The reason I'm writing a blog post about it is that I've found myself doing a few things that I've never done before, but probably should have been doing for every paper. It feels like I'm finally taking my research paper writing to the next level.

The first thing I've done is taken detailed notes on every article I've ready, basically an annotated bibliography. (I think in undergrad they may have forced me to write an annotated bibliography as part of the research paper process, but regrettably the practice didn't stick. Now I'm rediscovering it.) Because I've been reading SO many articles trying to pin down my topic I decided I better keep track of them. In my notes document I record the APA citation, write a short blurb about the article's relevance to my topic, and cut and paste direct passages and quotes. I have a complete history of everything I've read for the paper and I can easily go back and review when it's time to figure out what to include. Worth the extra trouble, I think.

This second thing I just discovered a few nights ago and I'm still testing it out: Zotero. Zotero is a free tool that you can download to manage basically your entire research process. In fact, everything I just described in the previous paragraph I could do in Zotero in an even more organized and elegant fashion. You can send articles straight to Zotero from the web and it will extract all the metadata for you and let you add notes and tags and such. You can create and curate your own collections and libraries and manage all the citation info in one place.  It looks really cool and I'm wondering why nobody told me about this earlier...???

Now I am imparting these tips to you, dear reader, so that (if you're not already doing them because you're a lot smarter than me) you can take your research paper-ing to the next level and skip all that painful trial and error and starting over. May the research gods be ever in our favor!

Classes | SLIS | Technology | classes


Registration time is upon us!  And...I have no idea what class to take.  As of December, I will be a fourth of the way through my program, and I'll be done with my required core LIS courses.  Now, I am currently in the Archives Management concentration, so logically, I should be taking LIS 438: Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, which is a prerequisite for a lot of the archives classes and is the recommended first archives class.  However, in a past post of mine, I talked about how I was thinking about switching from the Archives Management concentration to just the regular DYO Library and Information Science MS degree, and I still haven't decided what to do yet!  It would make sense to take an archives class to be absolutely positive that I don't want to do the Archives Management concentration, but I honestly don't know if I can take LIS 438 next semester with my work schedule.  LIS 438 is a course that includes a required 60-hour internship, and I've talked with some fellow students about the class and from what I've gathered, given my current work schedule, I'll need to choose between my job or the class.  I have other reservations about taking the class next semester, but right now my job is the main concern.  I had intended to make my decision about continuing on with the Archives Management concentration by the time I'd finished my core classes, but I haven't made up my mind yet.  So alas, I don't know what to do.  A part of me thinks that my best bet is to just take an elective next semester and try and do more research about archives and what I want to do when I'm done with my degree to see if Archives Management is the right path for me.  Even if I remain in the Archives Management concentration, I'll need to take a few electives, so it's not like I'll be taking a class that won't help me.  And there's so many great choices!  That's another reason why I'm hesitating on doing Archives Management--I feel I'll be missing out on some great classes.  But there's some great archives classes too.  Ugh--it's such a hard decision!  I mean, I don't think I could make a wrong choice.  Anyways--for registration, I think I'm probably going to end up deviating from the plan I made with my advisor when I came in to Simmons, and instead of doing LIS 438 next semester, I think I'm just going to take an elective, so I can delay the decision about my concentration for another few months.  I'll let you know what happens!

SLIS | classes

America's Test Kitchen Library Site Visit

Araceli Hintermeister '16MA/MS was gracious enough to give us a tour of the America's Test Kitchen facilities. We were able to follow her through the pantry, onto the various sets, and of course, into the America's Test Kitchen library.

Carlson_10.29.18 Image 1.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 2.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 3.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 4.jpg

I made sure to fangirl over the beautiful and sleek set kitchens, but was equally as drawn to the photography studio. Araceli shared that the studio puts out thousands of photos a day. They have a plate and bowl collection that I am still having dreams about. 

Carlson_10.29.18 Image 5.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 6.jpg

Once in the library, the books were predominantly cookbooks, with a few reference texts thrown in here or there. In a move I've never seen before, but greatly enjoyed, the books were organized by cuisine origin, with each area of the world being assigned a color combination, as indicated by tape placed on the book's spine.

 Carlson_10.29.18 Image 8.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 9.jpgCarlson_10.29.18 Image 7.jpg

Araceli then brought in fellow information professionals who work at ATK, and we were able to grill them about their intersecting food and information interests.

After our tour had concluded, a tall woman ran in and announced that she needed testers for vanilla pudding. Free food AND helping out ATK?  As lowly grad students, we were all clamouring for the opportunity.

We were led into a room we had previously toured. It was filled with square silver tables and lined with stools -- some of which were already occupied by other testers. As testers, we were given instructions to describe the texture, taste, consistency, and overall enjoyability of the product. We were tasked with trying three little cups of pudding, eating saltine crackers and drinking water in between to cleanse our palettes. It all felt so professional!

My friend Shawna and I took this very seriously, and were among the last testers sitting at the table. By the time we had described the three puddings in a sufficient and novelesque matter, most of our classmates had dispersed, and were on to their next adventure.

Carlson_10.29.18 Image 10.jpg

On our way out, ATK confirmed its status as "coolest place to be ever," by even having kitchen themed elevators. I'm so ecstatic to have had the opportunity to tour these amazing libraries with the help of Simmons alums and the Special Libraries Association! My field trips in undergrad were rarely this cool and so enmeshed in my niche interests!


Libraries | SLIS | Students | classes

Soaking It In!

I had a very full and productive class day this past Saturday, in which I participated in some lively class discussion, attended our LISSA West town hall meeting, gave a presentation, and sought valuable counsel from my mentors/professors about what I should do with my last semester. It was the kind of day that so perfectly encapsulates my entire experience at SLIS West that I just wanted to pause and soak it all in. It's a feeling that has come with the realization that my days up at SLIS West are numbered.

The weather was New England fall perfection. My drive began in the dark and ended in the dark, but I got to observe both the sunrise and the sunset in the brooding, cloud-torn autumn sky. When I arrived, I parked at the little collection of shops and restaurants that holds the SLIS office so that I'd have a farther walk to class - through the cool air smelling of wet leaves and by the majestic old brick and stone ivy-clad buildings of Mount Holyoke College.

Reaching my first class early, I had time to talk with the professor about LIS 442 - the archives requirement I'm deliberating. He had plenty of insight to offer and all the details I wanted. I am so grateful I've been able to take a class from Rob Cox - his discussion-oriented lectures and "thought experiments" are truly enlightening and I don't know if I've ever been challenged to think so critically. After class I headed back over to the SLIS office for lunch and camaraderie: two things I frequently find there. The office is small but it is a busy place on Saturdays, serving as our base of operations and commons area.

My afternoon class consisted of presentations, which were delivered a with marked increase in comfort and confidence from our first early attempts. Most of us know each other from previous classes, and as we've been forced to confront our public speaking and social interaction fears together the class has taken on the atmosphere of a support group. I'm learning a lot more than instruction techniques and I expect many of the lessons will stick with me for years to come. After class I walked back to my car with my professor (who is also my advisor), talking about life and school and decisions. He did little more than help confirm to me what I already felt was the best thing to do, which was probably exactly what I needed.

This week I submitted my petition to graduate and a change program form attesting to my projected completion of a Master of Science in Library and Information Science - so I guess it's official. This phase of my life has an end date that's now close enough to plan for, and I'm determined to soak up every last drop of the grad student life that was my dream for so long.

Classes | SLIS | Students

Halfway There!

Well, we've just about reached the halfway point in the semester!  My fall class has certainly been keeping me busy.  As I've said in previous posts, I'm taking LIS 488 (Technology for Information Professionals) this fall, and I'm taking it online.  The last time I talked in detail about the class on this blog, it was still the beginning of the class, so we hadn't really taken a deep dive into anything too computer-y.  I thought I'd give you a quick update on how things are going since then as we have now reached the halfway point.  I have learned how to code.  I mean, I am still a beginner, but we've gone through units on HTML and CSS, and we're starting JavaScript this week.  The random strings of numbers and letters that make up the backbones of webpages actually means something to me now.  As you may recall from previous posts, this was one of the things that made me nervous about taking this course.  My mindset going in to this class was that it would be good for me personally and professionally, but internally I was panicking a bit; however, now that I'm halfway through the class, that panic has died down a little.  If you had told me two years ago that I would be taking any sort of class that involved coding or programming of any kind, and that I would be succeeding at it I would have thought that you were out of your mind.   While this class is a lot of work, and it is introducing a lot of new concepts, I'm really grateful that LIS 488 is a required course at SLIS because otherwise I never would have taken this class.  IT as an overall concept was very intimidating to me before I started LIS 488.  This class has given me experience in something that I had never experienced before, and that I wouldn't have ever tried had this class not been required.  As we're only halfway through the semester, there is still a lot of work to be done, material to be learned, and more projects to be completed.  I'll keep you updated on my progress! 

Online | SLIS | Technology | classes | skills

If the Shoe Fits!

This past Friday, I had the awesome experience of touring both the Reebok archives and America's Test Kitchen. Check out next week's blog for ATK!

At Reebok I was given a fun looking ID badge that identified me as a guest of Stephanie Schaff, Archive Coordinator, who graduated from Simmons in 2015. She showed us around Reebok's new digs in the Innovative and Design Building on Drydock Ave. The work area was entirely encased in glass, and we were told that desks are first come, first served.

After touring the general building, we entered the actual archive. The space was decked out in white, with sketches displayed across the tables, cases of brightly colored shoes, and a fair amount of moveable stacks. I was very excited to be able to hold the oldest shoe in the collection (forgive me, Stephanie, but I forgot the exact date) which featured spikes that were caked with century old dirt -- which is a testament to how well the archive treats its items! I ALSO was able to hold one of Shaq's massive shoes.

Carlson_10.22.18 Image 1.jpgCarlson_10.22.18 Image 2.jpg 

We learned extensively about Reebok's Aztrek line, which originally appeared in the 90s but is being rebooted for modern tastes. I highly recommend you check out their ad campaign -- I was sold!  The sheer amount of knowledge Stephanie possesses about Reebok and its history was breathtaking, as she referenced specific shoe designs from a niche collection in the 60s off the top of her head. We also were able to speak extensively with Allison Johnson, the Archive Director. One thing that I loved and found striking about this visit was both Stephanie and Allison's assertion that archival work -- especially corporate archival work -- is focused largely on maintaining and creating stories. As I'm currently enrolled in LIS 423: Storytelling, this felt extra relevant.


Archives | Fun | SLIS | classes

Decision Time!!

The spring 2019 course schedule dropped this week and I was all over it like frost on a windshield. It is time to plan out my last semester of Simmons, folks! The finish line is in sight! The summit has emerged from the mist! Registration won't open for another few weeks so I've got some time to make a game plan. Now that I know what courses will be offered I can chart the rest of my program to the very end. It's a weird - and liberating - feeling.

Basically it's time to decide whether I'll complete the archives concentration or veer off to the general track. Either way, I'll have an MLIS. If I decide to stick with the archives concentration then my spring schedule is locked in: I'll have to take LIS 439-Preservation and LIS 442-Establishing Archival Programs. Both are being offered face-to-face at SLIS West. In fact, preservation is scheduled as a two-week long "crash course." Class will be held from 9-4 Thursday - Saturday two weeks in a row. Because I just can't pass up the opportunity to complete a three-credit course in only two weeks, I feel pretty certain I'll be taking preservation.

My other option would be to take an online class of my choice and forego the archives concentration (I've got my eyes on LIS 445-Metadata). Honestly, the prospect of making the early morning trek every Saturday for another semester is not very appealing. If I took the online class, my last trip up to South Hadley would be in mid-January. It feels as if my family has been waiting around for me to finish this program so that we can get on with our lives. Change is in the air for us - and having the flexibility of an online class might be a very good thing.

In a perfect world, all the classes that I wanted to take would be available in exactly the order that I wanted to take them, in my preferred format. Life being what it is, I've had to weigh in factors of time, travel, money, personal preference, scheduling, family needs, etc. and do the best I can with what is available to me. It hasn't always been ideal, but when I think about what I will have accomplished at the end, I think it will all be worth it. So wish me luck and good advice for my upcoming decisions!

And welcome to our other new blogger Maria! I always love seeing fresh new faces up on the blog. 😊

Classes | SLIS

The First 100 Days - Guest Blogger - Hanna Soltys, '17

Hi Everyone, 

Please join me in welcoming our one time, guest blogger Hanna Soltys! She recently had the most exciting opportunity at the Library of Congress. 

Bio: Hanna Soltys '17 MS, Archives Management is one of five in the Library of Congress's pilot Librarians-in-Residence Program. She was placed in the Reference & Instruction track, within the Prints & Photographs Division, and began her six-month appointment in late June 2018. 

soltys_hanna_Photo.jpgThe First 100 Days 
As a Librarian-in-Residence at the Library of Congress

Since I'm now in DC, it only feels right to reflect on my First 100 Days. Let's be real, a residence program at an institution such as this is intimidating. The anxiety and doubt bubbled up as that plane took off from Logan Airport with just my luggage in tow. Though from Day One, I quickly saw how Simmons and my experiences throughout Boston had prepared me for this program.

The work I completed with Simmons students and former professor Martha Mahard in the Boston Public Library's Prints Department ensured I wasn't too green coming into the Library of Congress. This part-time job from the Simmons JobLine provided me with an understanding of photographic processes, assessing time periods, and more importantly proper handling techniques. My LIS 438 class internship and later contract work at the Roxbury Latin School showed me the power of using an archival collection for outreach and reference projects, in addition to gaining exposure with rare and fragile items, all of which continue to be useful when serving materials to patrons.

No matter your institution, the reference game is a lot of improvisation, becoming knowledgeable about a topic and/or collection quickly, and all about customer service. The Reading Room of Prints & Photographs has a dedicated team of Reference Librarians answering inquiries and questions from afar (online or by phone) and in-person; in addition to other roles, responsibilities, and projects.

With holdings boasting 16 million items, you quickly become familiar with best practices for handling and searching across a wide array of formats. Architectural drawings, posters (circus ones are a personal favorite), comic illustrations, lantern slides, stereographs, portfolios, scrapbooks, contact must be agile and plan ahead on larger items to pull with another set of hands!

As a rookie, the team had me complete a handful of exercises to become familiar with the arrangement, materials, and how to search collections. One very wonderful thing about the Prints & Photographs Reading Room is how much original material is out for self-service. With a Library of Congress Reader Room card, researchers and patrons can peruse the various collections at their pace.

This is by far the largest library team I've worked with and the amount of pop-up projects is abundant. From moderating Flickr and hosting Reading Room tours to working with technical services on digitization and staffing special events, you see the different hats, titles, and jobs a Librarian wears.

The Library of Congress offers educational programs for employees, with classes ranging from technology and systems to understanding the work of other divisions and seminars. The Reference Orientation class I took visited a different Reading Room each week, showing materials and collections throughout the Library of Congress. In addition, my colleagues, both in and out of the Prints & Photographs Division are always willing to answer any and all questions while sharing their experiences. The mentorship is abundant here and I'm thankful for a field that is so supportive.

In my day-to-day, I'm continually pulling from knowledge and experience in LIS 407 (it was a major help during my internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame), LIS 446, and LIS 415. While I currently don't use the coding languages from LIS 488 and LIS 440, these two class made me comfortable with unfamiliar technology, which was a benefit when learning about new systems and databases.

The next few months will be busy ones with a few project deadlines approaching (writing for the Picture This blog, a Reference Aid for the postcard collection, transferring a Finding Aid into a LibGuide), though it's exciting to see the varying amount of work completed in a mere six months. This has been a magnificent place to begin my professional library career and build upon my knowledge and experiences from Boston.

Postscript: Hanna's Librarians-in-Residence contract was extended for four additional months, and she will continue working in the Prints & Photographs Division in 2019.

Photo Caption: Hanna is seated in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room holding "Simmons College, Boston, Mass." from the Detroit Publishing Collection. This photograph dated between 1910-1920 is available as a digital file in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (LC-D4-72328)

Jobs | Librarians | Real World | SLIS

A Whirlwind of Activity

Oh my goodness the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity!  So many things have happened!  I flew to North Carolina to be a bridesmaid in a good friend's wedding, which was very exciting.  I have been to several weddings, especially in the past year, but I've never actually participated in one, so it was a new experience for me.  I was so thrilled for the couple, I've known the bride for ten years and she is one of my best friends, and it was my first time back to North Carolina since I've started at Simmons.  I completely forgot how hot it is in October in North Carolina!  It was about 90 degrees and extremely humid every single day I was there.

 Additionally, while I was at the wedding, I met someone who was considering pursuing their Master's in Library and Information Science.  It's really funny, at the past three weddings I've been to, I've either met someone who has gone to Simmons SLIS, someone who works in the LIS field, or now, someone who is considering joining the field.  It really is a small world, and one I am so grateful to be a part of.  I was able to tell the person all the wonderful things I've learned and absorbed since starting at Simmons, and hopefully they will enjoy this profession and program as much as I have.  

I had a wonderful time, and I really enjoyed going back to North Carolina.  None of this would have been possible had I not been taking an online class (LIS 488- Technology for Information Professionals) this fall.   I know I've said it before, and I probably will probably say it again, but online classes really do give you the convenience of being able to do your work from anywhere there is a WiFi connection.  Simmons gives you the option of taking classes in a variety of formats, and I look forward to exploring them all. 

PS: Welcome to Simmons and to the blog Katie and Maria!!!!    

Librarians | Online | SLIS | classes

Starting Strong and Staying Strong

A little over a month into my first semester of grad school and, oh boy, what a whirlwind! From really nailing down my commute in from Brighton, (never thought I'd be team bus over T) to learning how to layer (someone please teach how to scarf) so as not to over heat during said commute, these past weeks have been quite the experience. But enough about my struggles over the weather, let's talk classes.

For my first semester, I chose to take the 3 core courses to get them out of the way before the snow hits too hard and I lose all motivation to leave my bed. This means that I'm enrolled in 407-Information Sources & Services, 415-Information Organization, and 488-Technology for Information Professionals. I was warned by my advisor before the semester that this course load would be tough with a lot of reading and a lot of assignments. Personally, I always feel more energetic and refreshed Fall semester since it's a new school year and you're coming off from ideally a relaxing summer. So with what my advisor said in mind I dived head first into my classes.

Now having a good number of weeks under my grad school belt, I can say that my advisor was most certainly right! These classes are very heavy on the reading and I have several assignments, some due on the same days! While this does lead to some very stressed out, over-caffeinated panics, it has also really helped me learn better time management skills and how scheduling every little thing you have to do makes a huge difference. I'm the type of person that needs visual reminders so I'm a huge advocate for getting yourself a whiteboard and loads of sticky notes (color coded obviously). Having all of my datelines visible every day can really help to conceptualize how you need to organize and prioritize all your work.

Another important thing I like to stress as well is that unfortunately, sometimes you won't be able to finish all the readings or write the award-worthy discussion post you wanted to, life can just get in the way sometimes. This doesn't have to completely derail you though! As cheesy as it sounds you just have to persevere, take it one day at a time if you need to, you are going to be okay! As someone returning to school after a few years off (feeling like I forgot a lot of the key skills required to study), this is definitely something I can never say often enough to myself.


SLIS | classes

Learning about Learning (or rather, metalearning)

I saw a mug in the bathroom at Mt. Holyoke on Saturday that said: "Anything you can do we can do meta" and I've been chuckling to myself ever since. You see, the prefix "meta-" is something I hadn't really encountered before I came to library school and now I can't seem to get away from it. Librarians love it (and we aren't the only ones).

I'm going to do you a solid today and tell you what meta means and then make up some words with it just for fun.

The Google dictionary defines meta as "denoting something of a higher or second-order kind" but I actually like this one from Urban Dictionary better: "Meta means about the thing itself. It's seeing the thing from a higher perspective instead of from within the thing, like being self-aware."

The example you'll encounter most frequently in library school is metadata, which is essentially data about data. Right now in User Instruction we've been reading about metacognition, which is thinking about your own thinking. And since this week's readings are about learning theory, I've decided to call this "metalearning," or learning about learning. (Turns out meta learning is a real thing. I just googled it.)

I actually quite like learning more about how learning works, and I've realized that you don't have to study learning theory to learn more about learning. In fact, pursuing higher education is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how you learn; all you have to do is pay attention, reflect, and experiment a little. When I'm learning something new, I've found that I need some time and space to explore it on my own terms before I fully "grasp" a concept. After I've got that initial footing, then discussing or exploring it with other people helps flesh it out further. Finally I've got to put my new knowledge into practice to cement the learning. It's an iterative and non-linear process.

Anyway, here are some more meta- words that I've just come up with for kicks and giggles:

Meta-journaling: journaling about journaling

Meta-anxiety: anxiety about your anxiety (ooh this one's handy!)

Meta-requirements: requirements about requirements

Meta-excited: excited about your excitement

Meta-planning: planning your planning (bullet journals, anyone?)

Meta-arguing: arguing about arguing


P.S. Welcome new blogger Katie!!!

Fun | Librarians | skills

Adding to the Team

Hello everyone! We'd like to introduce our second new student blogger --Maria Reilvoa! Here is her bio. Stay tuned for her first post...coming soon!

Welcome Maria!

Hello! My name Maria, I was born and raised in a small beach town on the east coast of Florida a little over an hour away from Orlando and yes we would take field trips to Disney growing up (also to Medieval Times, which is a personal favorite, it's basically a year-round Renaissance festival-Huzzah!). But I am trading in hurricanes for nor'easters and ready to brave the winter wearing ever article of clothing I own!

I am currently in my first semester at Simmons studying for my LIS degree with a concentration in cultural heritage informatics. My educational background is in Arts Administration and I love all things historical! Which is one of the reasons I wanted to attend Simmons in Boston. I'm eager to start exploring all the fun history Boston has to offer as well as all the great sights and eats (pastries from the north end, anyone?)!

When I'm not in class or working in the SLIS admissions office, I'm out exploring my neighborhood of Brighton to find the best coffee shop, chinese takeout, and 24-hour convenience store, which are all very important parts of the grad school lifestyle. I also love going into the city with my roomies to catch a movie, walk around Beacon Hill pointing out the cutest flower boxes, or just relaxing on the Boston Common, specifically to watch all the cute dogs.





The Real Numbers for Moving to Boston

104 days to panic between graduation and move in

5 inquiries sent to potential roommates//landlords

4 rejections (some last minute)

1 perfect fit

10 pages of the world's longest packing list -- organized by room, and including a physical description of purchased objects

294.8 miles between home and home 2.0

1,000,000 anxious thoughts

2 red minivans packed to the brim, seats all folded down

4 hours and 58 minutes << the anticipated drive time

9 hours and 4 minutes << the actual drive time

1 crucial Dunkin' stop

1 high school friend I duped into riding to Boston with me (thanks Alex!!!)

1 lovely girlfriend of the high school friend I duped into riding to Boston with me >> who also happens to be a Boston local

1 rolled IKEA queen size mattress

3 sets of too small bed sheets, purchased in a confused panic

1 set of sheets that actually FIT the bed

1 amazing past and future roommate, flying in from Kentucky

1 committed and supremely organized mother

2 air mattresses, 1 sleeping bag, and 1 yoga mat >> because my home will always be a pseudo youth hostel

1 cousin of a family friend >> also new to Boston and also roped into assembling furniture

1 bright yellow Kallax shelf from IKEA

17,000 loose screws and pegs rolling around the floor

5 floor lamps >> because you can never have too much light!

1 twin size bed set, inherited from a beloved friend who couldn't fit them in her suitcase to go back home to the UK

4 towels to match the bed set inherited from the same beloved friend who couldn't fit them in her suitcase to go back home to the UK

1 set of green stackable drawers that are covered in stickers and stuck with me all throughout undergrad

1 beautiful table >> trash picked during the new (to me) phenomenon of Allston Christmas on September 1st

2 rolls of cucumber scented paper for lining the linen closet

1 collapsable "granny" cart, lovingly loaned to me by my actual grandmother, and perfect for hauling groceries

2 giant metal mixing bowls, because I might need to mix up two giant recipes at once!

1 more college friend, willing to sacrifice her Sunday to assemble a bed frame

3 attempts to PROPERLY assemble said bedframe

1 giant little brother, with newly purple hair

17,000 throw pillows, because I am, in fact, a pillow hoarder

8 moving boxes full of clothes, because I am, in fact, also a hoarder of clothing

1 father, sorely missed, attending a fantasy football draft >> (Don't worry, he appears later)

1 electric kettle, so I can get my tea fix

2 weekends required to move my life from New Jersey to Boston

1 U-haul, picked up in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

1 giant denim encased futon >> its intense size making the U-Haul necessary

1 set of saintly parents willing to drive said U-Haul to Massachusetts

2 bottle openers, because while we are grad students, we are still 22, and human

1 salad spinner, because it's the little things in life that make me happy

1 sword, purchased in Toledo, Spain, displayed proudly on the wall (don't ask)

2 legless lawn flamingos, named Flo & Mingo, one of which accompanied my mother through her college years in the 80s

1 4K television, because TV is literally my roommate's job, and we love our Jeopardy

1 gangly brother whose limbs could barely be contained in the U-Haul

5 under the bed boxes, because I am neither resourceful nor rich enough to find a dresser, and I need somewhere to put my 8 moving boxes worth of clothes

1 wildly expensive toll clocking in at $42.50 >> the cost of taking a U-Haul over the George Washington Bridge

20+ animal themed folders, because I've never been a fan of limiting my tastes based on age

1 boot tray, already set up by the door, because I know it won't be summer forever

 Finally being settled in my favorite city attending my dream program? - I can't assign numbers to how awesome it feels!