Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Hanging out with the Future Authors of Tomorrow

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure to attend an event hosted by the Children's Literature Department over at the School of Management. Our neighbors up the stairs, my first interaction with the Children's Literature Department and Program occurred way back on September 1, 2014. That was the day that I formally moved into my new apartment with three other girls. Two of these young women were just beginning their second year in the Children's Literature Program. 
Since that time, I've learned a great deal about the Children's Literature Program, and all that is has to offer its students. Yesterday, I sat down and listened to various students from the program not only discuss their mentorship experience from the previous semester, but also hear excerpts from the novels that they are currently working on. Hearing the culmination of months, and in most cases, years of effort, was a wonderful experience. I could not only hear the passion that these talented writers had for their work, but also the excitement, pride, and love that they had for their stories and characters. While I certainly enjoyed being teased with excerpts from these stories, I found the most interesting part to be when these future authors discussed the writing process itself. All of them had different stories, some found inspiration while studying abroad in places like Northern Whales or Chile; others found inspiration in specific themes or genres. Of course, the writing process for many was not always a smooth ride. Many had hit a wall with their work at one point during their mentorship, some having to re-work plot points or remove characters. For one of my roommates, she struggled with trying to figure out who her target audience was. Although these struggles might not seem like much to some, for writers, they are expected aspects tied to the writing process.
As I sat there listening, I let myself get lost not only in these writer's novels, but their own personal stories. It dawned on me I was in the company of the next wave of young adult and children's lit authors. This is a notion that I have heard echoed before, usually during graduation ceremonies when either the commencement speaker or school president addresses the graduating class. While I don't doubt that I didn't graduate with the future's brightest minds, yesterday afternoon, I felt like I was in the company of literary greatness. 
To all of the students in the Children's Literature Program, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and your writing careers. 

Children's Literature | leave a comment


Thoughts of Summer

This week I registered for summer classes and applied for a summer internship. I could hardly believe it. Summer seems so far off, especially given the amount of snow on the ground now, but it's better to plan for it now than to be caught unprepared later.

As for classes, after much vacillation, I decided to take courses in XML, digital stewardship, and digital humanities. It is all very technology oriented. A year ago if you had told me I would focus on something like this for a career, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. It is really challenging, but I'm passionate about making information available and discoverable for everyone. That's why concentrating on digital repositories seems like a good choice for me. The choice also fits very well the professional and internship experience I have. It's tough, because I feel like my level of skill with technology isn't as advanced as a lot of other students', but I think I can overcome my deficiencies and learn more given how much I care about what I'm doing.

Fortunately, the summer internship I got fits really well with my goals. It's at the State Library of Massachusetts doing cataloging. So far, most of my cataloging experience has been in archives, so this is a good opportunity to round out my skills. The library is in the State House, which is gorgeous, so that doesn't hurt either. It also doesn't hurt that my boss, the cataloging librarian, is a Simmons alumna.

statehouse.jpegPhoto courtesy of Wikipedia

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Taking Care of Business

So, the first half of this semester was a little unusual.  I'm just thankful I didn't take any Monday classes, because between snow days and holidays, they have only met once.  How crazy is that?

By the end of last semester I figured out that things worked best for me if I had big blocks of time for each part of my life.  A day here for work, a day there for homework.  From 3:15 - bedtime, all my focus was on the kids.  Weekends were family time, unless there was a big assignment on the horizon, in which case I carved a few hours out of precious family time so I wasn't freaking out.  

It was a little hard to keep to that schedule at the beginning of this semester, as I got used to the slightly different rhythm of an online class.  Still, I was keeping a positive attitude and trying to figure out the best way to get things done. I mapped out the dates for all the group projects in each of my classes, and felt like I could handle my second semester at SLIS.

Then, it snowed.

And snowed.

And snowed.

My kids had snow day upon snow day.  I kept thinking I could "get things done" on the snow days, but that was crazy thinking.  I felt like I wasn't doing enough schoolwork.  The library where I work only closed one day per storm, while my kids had two days off each storm, so my kids came to work with me a few times (which sounds nice, but is actually kind of hard, even in a Children's Department). 

Then there was February Vacation, a completely misnamed week of no school (having your kids home for a full week in February is not a vacation.  Let's call it something else). 

Anyway.  All that passed, and we haven't had a snowstorm in a couple of weeks -- just a dusting every few days.

Now, with February Vacation behind us, a really good connection with my 404 group, and a fairly good idea of how to manage 488 online, I'm ready to tackle the second half of the semester.   Wish me luck.  And to other parents out there, balancing school and work and kids and shoveling and ice dams and dead car batteries (please let that not just be me), hang in there.  Spring will come.  It always does.

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3D Printing: A Nerd's Fantasy Realized!

Have you ever been online and saw something that you wanted? I'm sure the answer is yes, but how many times have you actually acted on that impulse? But what if the thing you wanted is something a bit bizarre? Like an Ocarina of Time? Or maybe you want your own House Crest from one of the Four Houses of Hogwarts? As a self-declared nerd, these items are merely just an example of things from various books and video games that I have wanted since I was a child. Of course, like most early twenty-somethings, I am not currently at a place in my life financially where I could justify buying these things. Thankfully, I don't have to.
When 3D printing was still a concept that one could only read about either online or in the newspapers, I thought it was the coolest things ever. I still do. However, I never thought that I would ever have the chance to see one up close, let alone 3D print something. On Newbury Street, there is a printing shop that has a few printers in their storefront windows; that was about as close as I thought I would ever get to seeing one. The 'printer of the future' on one side, me standing on the other, face pressed against the glass. But then, things took a turn for the serendipitous! SLIS's very own Tech Lab came into possession of a 3D printer! The first time I saw it in the fall semester, I could barely believe my eyes. For something that can do what a 3D printer actually does, it didn't look as remarkable as I thought it would. Imagine a normal printer but sliced in half. Where the other part would be, is an open space with a platform that rises when the printer is active. In the back, a spool of colored plastic is attached and fed through a tube. Making it work is just a matter of pressing a few buttons. One to unload the plastic, another to load, and finally, go! The first time I saw the printer in action, I was mesmerized. It literally took something from the computer, and made it real. Wow! 
Jump forward to January during winter break. Since I work for the Student Services Center, I was back at work the first week of the year. It was during this time, in between prepping for Spring 2015 Orientation, cleaning out lockers, and working on other projects that I happened to walk into the Tech Lab to find it totally deserted minus the staff. While I stood in front of a shelf filled with different 3D printed objects, I asked aloud, "How much does it cost to use the 3D printer?" The answer: "Nothing, it's free to use to who ever wants to, once they've been trained of course." 
Twenty minutes later, I was set up in front of the computer connected to the printer, searching this amazing website, thingiverse.com. This is just one of the many growing databases of patterns that one can upload to be printed through the 3D printer (you can also use an SD card too). Since it was my first time, I was worried about printing something too complex; if anyone can break a 3D printer by accident it would totally be me. Opting for simplicity, I settled on an elephant keychain. In just a matter of minutes, the pattern went from being on the computer screen to being an outline, gradually being filled by hot plastic. Forty-five minutes later, I poked my head into to Tech Lab to see how things were coming along. Sitting on the platform of the printer, was my little elephant. From that moment onward, I was hooked!
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As the title of this blog post suggests, 3D printing, at least in my experience, offers me the chance to make what was once just my imagination, into reality. From a Ravenclaw and Slytherin Crest to a blue Narwhal, if there is something that I want to see brought out of a 2D existence, I can probably make it happen. Today, for example, I decided to give my purple elephant keychain a companion. I had an idea in mind, and went to thingiverse.com to see if it could be made into a tangible thing. A few clicks later, my file was being uploaded into this program called Makerbot, w
hich is synched to the printer itself. Even though I've used this printer a bunch of times, I never get tired of watching it make something out of data. Less then an hour later, I was the proud owner of a 1UP Mushroom, just like those found in the Super Mario universe.
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Growing up, I have watched technology come along way. From modems and pagers to Wifi and Google Glass, I could almost create a timeline of this technological progress and use it to tell the story of my life. When the first IPod came out, I was in 7th grade, etc. The existence of a 3D printer is just another signifier of how far we have come and suggests that we have only reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of how far we can go. Within the context of the library and information science field, technology has come a long way. Today, most libraries utilize an online card catalog, and most 

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check patrons out using specific software. Archives and historical societies create digital finding aids and online exhibits, while others utilize social media to encourage online volunteer projects. As technology only progresses, moving past 3D printers and onto something even more groundbreaking, I feel that technology will only continue to have a place within the LIS field. One can only guess what the future might hold.

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Ancestors & Acquisitions - My Genealogical Internship

There is such a difference between learning the theory behind everything we study here and actually putting those theories to good use.  As I am currently enrolled in LIS438 (Introduction to Archives), I have the fortune of spending a few hours each week at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

Before I go into my work there, I want to encourage all of you to visit the NEHGS.  While my work there will definitely keep me busy, I plan on returning to this organization and looking into my own family tree.  While parts of my family are very new to the United States, there is so much to discover and explore.  The librarians, genealogists, and researchers that work at the institution from Tuesday to Saturday each week are incredibly kind, knowledgeable, and helpful.  The society's collections include published genealogies, manuscripts, maps, art... and not just from New England.  One floor is dedicated to European materials, while their general reference and microfilm collections include materials from New York, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest.  If you aren't located in the New England area, I hope that you look into your own local historical society or genealogical society.  Knowing where we came from can only assist us in where we are going.

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Though I've only spent one day at my new internship, my time at the NEHGS promises to be anything but a copies-and-coffee type of position.  I have a relatively recent acquisition all to myself, and it is my job to process and describe the collection in full.  I haven't been able to go through the entire collection just yet, but the half that I was able to go over left me hungry for more.  The items range from a 1700s account book which once belonged to Nathan Dickinson (a possible relation to Emily) to extravagantly decorated bonds and shares owned by a 19th century American businessman to a few Valentines from the 1800s.  What excites me the most, however, were a few different series of personal correspondence.  The first is unfortunately all in French (unfortunate solely because I do not speak it) but appears to be written to the donor's great-grandmother from a Belgian soldier during World War I.  How curious and almost sad these letters seemed to me.  Perhaps I'm a Romantic, but I couldn't help but get carried away in their potential story... how does a young American woman find herself writing in French to a young Belgian soldier at the turn of the century?  It's clear from the rest of the collection that they did not get married - was this soldier her first love?  Or maybe their letters were simply a chance correspondence, a product of some sort of pen pal program?  I wish I could read these letters, but at the same time, I love the sense of mystery that these letters contain.

The second set of correspondence is much more accessible, both because the writers are English-speakers from 1940s Massachusetts and because both sides of the correspondence are present.  The eventual husband and wife, college students at MIT and U Mass Amherst respectively, wrote to each other from the very start of their relationship, recording their first declaration of love to their first fights and eventually to the man's enlistment in the U.S. Army during World War II.  I can't help but feel affectionate for this young couple, especially when the man writes "Don't ever forget how much I love you" at the end of all of his letters.

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It's these letters, the signatures, the to-do lists and other everyday items from ordinary people that initially interested me about archives.  These are new stories, not about great men or other famous people.  These are the stories that the rest of us ordinary people live, and they also deserve to be told.  So beware: you might be reading a whole lot about this young couple in the future... and perhaps a certain Belgian soldier, if I can find someone who reads French!

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Forced Fun and Productivity

Okay. So you've heard by now how much snow we've had in Boston. Living here, it's hard to forget, but I'm trying. Everyone is trying. Here's what I've been doing to make the time go by:

School Work:

  • Writing an XML schema
  • Reading for classes
  • Writing critiques of the aforementioned readings
  • Gradually making a strategic plan for Emory University Archives for a group project

Things Usually Procrastinate:

  • Doing my taxes
  • Filing my financial aid forms
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning stuff that will eventually get dirty again (i.e. everything)
  • Writing thoughtful replies to e-mails (i.e. more than "Thanks" and "Will do")

Fun Distractions and Outings:

  • Going to a Mexican food restaurant without windows to pretend I wasn't in Boston
  • Many movie nights (courtesy of DVDs from various libraries)
  • Binge watching The Killing on Netflix
  • Tweeting stuff no one cares about
  • Perfecting the art of making warm cocktails (Hot Toddy anyone?)
  • Reading Lisa Genova's Still Alice (which is so good!)

Somewhere in here I also managed to go to work and my internship after dealing with long commutes, but that's another story. I could write an entirely separate post about what I accomplished en route to my various obligations. Suffice to say I'm making good use of my Audible account. Really though, this past week was fun and productive, and I guarantee you I'll be singing the same tune in August when it's 95 degrees and humid.

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Dilemma

Like many others, I was inspired by this Humans of New York story.   It made me think about the impact teachers and principals can have, and, following that logic, public librarians in urban settings.  When I applied to library school, I wrote part of my application essay on the need for quality library services for traditionally underserved populations.  I want every child to have access to a great public library with materials and programming and technology and responsive librarians.  I want to be one of those responsive librarians.

Except that I work in a suburb with a decidedly not underserved population.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my job and everything about it. But the other day, reading story after story about Mott Hall Bridges Academy and the inspiring Principal Lopez (and the even more inspiring Vidal Chastanet), I started to think that maybe I should be working in an urban library. 

Then, I saw a job listing for the same type of position I have now, but in an urban setting.  I shouldn't have even thought twice, right? 

But.

I'm learning so much where I work now.   I don't want to give that up quite yet, to work in a library with fewer resources.  I want to keep learning how things can be done, with healthy budgets and dedicated, innovative staff and active Friends and a community that considers libraries a priority.

Oh, I applied for the city job.  I haven't heard anything yet, so maybe I won't even have to make the decision.  But this has been a good exercise in figuring out what I really want to do after SLIS.

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Outsides and Insides

Because of the snow, I had a hard time getting to the library these past couple weeks. Which is only unfortunate because I'm taking a picture book class which meets once a month, and in which we need to read 120 picture books. I was planning to check out about 10 a week, but when I missed a couple weeks, I ended up checking out about 30 picture books yesterday. I was mildly embarrassed simply because I don't have any children, and, to a certain extent, I felt like I was taking away books from possible child readers.

But then I reminded myself that the bookshelves were still full even after my two bags of books were removed. In really trying to give myself over to picture books, I noticed a few things about my preferences.

I know my last post was also about picture books, but this is slightly more applicable to all books.

I've said before that I'm terrible and I totally judge books by their covers. Well, in looking at picture books, I noticed that I also judge books by their spines. It makes sense right? When books are shelved at a library, and usually even at a bookstore, the spines are what we can see. The spines have to be attractive enough, in some way, to make me grab the book off the shelf. Now because I was looking for certain illustrators, I had gone online and chosen two books per illustrator and written down their call numbers. Because it's difficult to find books by illustrator (books are shelved by authors, you know), I decided to just take whatever book I'd written down regardless of how the physical copy made me feel.

This provided some mixed results. A couple books which I thought sounded good, I did not like the illustrations of (Jethro Hyde, Fairy Child by Bob Graham, for example). A couple books which I thought sounded fine, the spines and covers were completely uninspiring, but the interior illustrations were lovely (Hercules by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon, for example). And then there were a couple books which hit all high notes for each category: spine, cover, and interior were all brilliant (Check out This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers).

Anyway, this led me to thinking about e-books, and how with e-books it all comes down to the cover. There are no spines, and often, you can't look at much of the interior. We're always told not to judge a book by its cover, but I think e-books make that adage outdated. Maybe judging a book by its cover is more expected with picture books? What do you think? Have you encountered any picture books where the outside was less than thrilling but the inside was great? Let me know!

All the Best

--Hayley 

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Book Recommendation: The Map Thief

Despite cancelled classes due to Boston's clearly insane weather system, I'm sure all of you are deep into your classes and the last thing you need is a book recommendation.  But I would be amiss if I did not share with you a great new book that I just finished and absolutely adored, not only because it is so well-written but primarily because it is incredibly relevant to contemporary libraries, archives, and special collections.

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http://www.michaelblanding.com/mapthief/

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding is made only more intriguing by the scandalous subtitle: "The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps."  The story seems out of the plot of some sort of period film, but all took place within the last decade.  Forbes Smiley, a Massachusetts native, entered the rare map trade in the 1980s when map collecting was just becoming popular.  He loved the history and artistry of the maps and often worked closely with librarians at major universities as he was researching maps for potential collectors.  He was instrumental in assisting major collectors like Lawrence H. Slaughter (whose collection was donated to the New York Public Library) and Norman B. Leventhal (the same Leventhal for which the Boston Public Library's Rare Maps Room is named) in creating comprehensive collections regarding the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions the United States. 

However, Smiley eventually turned on many of these relationships.  According to the book, Smiley received no compensation after orchestrating the transfer of both the Slaughter and Leventhal collections to the NYPL and BPL, a process that took months for each.  This bitterness, combined with financial overextension, led him to betray his privileged relationship with librarians at academic and special libraries throughout the United States and United Kingdom.  He was finally caught in 2005 at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, in possession of an x-acto blade and several stolen maps in a briefcase.  He avoided a trial by confessing to stealing over 100 maps from different libraries and archives. 

The extent of Smiley's stealing inspired many libraries to completely re-evaluate their collections, and many institutions believe that the list of maps that he stole was far larger.  Prestigious libraries like Yale, Harvard, and the British Library claimed that Smiley had stolen far more from them than he claimed.  While many libraries enhanced their security policies and installed devices like cameras in their reading rooms, some institutions were unable to enforce any changes, whether due to bureaucracy or financial issues.

I must admit that I did gasp out loud several times as I read about the crimes of Smiley and other thieves that targeted libraries and archives for rare materials.  But in addition to the scandal and intrigue, the book raises a lot of questions for library and archive students and professionals.  How do curators best protect materials?  How can archives properly catalog items so that there is a clear account of what maps are and are not included in large volumes?  How does one evaluate the loss of cultural heritage independent of monetary value within a legal framework?  How do we negotiate the relationships between library professional and dealer?  

Explore these issues and the histories of map making in the last several centuries with The Map Thief while you stay nice and warm this winter!  And if you are brave enough to go outside, you can see many of the maps that are described in the book at the Boston Harbor Hotel, a project which Norman B. Leventhal developed.

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An Open Letter to Snow

Dear Snow,

You have been very busy these past two months, my dear friend. Since the end of January, not a week has passed where you haven't unleashed yourself upon the city of Boston. I wonder, is this perhaps retaliation of some kind because the meteorologists were predicting a mild winter? Or perhaps, you simply enjoy covering Boston in your snowy blankets, changing the city into a winter wonderland? Whatever your motivation for delivering snow storm after snow storm upon my beloved city of Boston, I write to you today, as strong winds howl outside my apartment creating clouds of white, to ask you for leniency.  Enough is enough. Please, can we not have anymore snow?
I am fully aware that writing this plea to you is most likely folly, but with 45.5 inches of snow as today (according to CNN.com), a plea such as this can't hurt. And yes, that's right: 45.5 inches. That's a lot of snow, especially in such a short amount of time. Let me list a just a few of the things that these 45.5 inches have caused thus far.
 
1. Simmons College has had five snow days thus far; there are students who have not yet had a Monday class! 
2. The city has had to shut down the MBTA three times now. While I have to luxury of being able to walk to all the places I need to get to in case of an emergency, the same cannot be said of others. The closure of the MBTA has inconvenienced a lot of people. 
3. ICE. Just ice.
4. The massive piles of snow created by the city's plows are just that, MASSIVE. They have narrowed sidewalks, trapped in cars, and making the daily practice of walking feel like one is constantly climbing over Everest. They will probably be here until May.
5. Being snowed in so often is very boring. I am literarily running out of homework to do in my spare time.
Snow, I love you, and I am sure that many other people in Boston (especially kids) love you too, but I think the city has had enough for one year. I am aware that more snow is due to hit the city this week but maybe I don't think anyone would complain if the snow DIDN'T happen to fall. I know it seems like I am asking a lot, but consider it. Maybe, for just one week in February, it doesn't have to snow in Boston?
I think I speak for everyone when I say: Please, don't snow on Boston anymore.
Thank you,
Jill Silverberg

Boston | New England | leave a comment


Blizzard Books

If you are inclined to get carried away with the spirit of Snowmageddon 2015, below I offer you suggestions for books to read while you're hunkered down in this mess or while you're hearing about it on the news from far away (lucky you!). In retrospect, perhaps I should have complied a list of beach reads instead.

Oh well. Here it goes:

Blankets by Craig Thomason- The black and white artwork in this graphic novel makes the snow it depicts intense in contrast with the rest of the drawings. Set in the 90s during a heavy winter in the Midwest, this tale of young love will make you want to snuggle with someone to keep warm.

blankets-craig-thompson.jpghttps://mirrorsofchrist.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/44-blankets-by-craig-thompson/

Simila's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg- Secrets wait beneath the ice in this dark crime thriller that takes place in Denmark and Greenland. Simila, the protagonist, will make you re-consider the very structure of snow itself and all the trails you leave behind in it as she tracks down a child's murderer.

Snowpiercer (both volumes) by Jaques Loeb and Jean-Marc Rochette- Another graphic novel! But another great one, especially if you are a fan of dystopian adventure. Set in the future when the earth has frozen solid, humanity survives on a train barreling through the cold. Now the slave occupants of the back of the train must fight their oppressors (those living in luxury at their expense at the front) for equality and a voice.

The Ice Storm by Rick Moody- Against the backdrop of the swinging 70s, this novel follows two families as everything in their lives comes to a head when they are forced to stay in place for a serious winter storm. Death, abuse, sex, drugs, and general drama are big players here. You will want to go outside and shovel after you put this down just to have an excuse to leave your house.

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut- This apocalyptic classic centers on a new form of ice that freezes water at room temperature. If all the talk of ice isn't enough to make your blood run cold, then the way Vonnegut shows humanity's avarice will. Don't worry--as serious as it gets, the author will keep you laughing with his cynical caricatures.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer- Always the outdoorsman and thrill-seeker, here Krakauer chronicles his journey on a March 1996 expedition to the summit of Mount Everest during which eight people died in a blizzard. It's definitely a page-turner every step of the way.

intothinair.jpeghttp://blogs.isb.bj.edu.cn/16maxc/2012/10/31/you-cant-make-it-alone/

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette by Hampton Sides- If you love novels about boats or books about survival, move this one about a journey through uncharted artic waters to the top of your list. It starts out a bit slowly, but you won't get up for so much as a bathroom break in the last quarter of the book when it's all polar bears, snow-blindness, vortexes, and madness.

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian- During the course of a snowy night in rural Vermont where treacherous roads and downed phone and power lines prevent a laboring mother from delivering in a hospital, a midwife performs a C-section and must deal with the consequences, both legally and psychologically. Bohjalian's descriptions of the storm's aftermath will have you ordering condoms off Amazon Prime as soon as you finish the book. (Thank God for Prime in this weather...)

The Shining by Stephen King- Blizzard giving you cabin fever? This is your cure. In case you missed the seriously scary movie adaptation, this story is about a family stranded at the Overlook Hotel as its patriarch becomes the property's new caretaker, whereupon he loses his mind and becomes homicidal. Be careful you don't blow a fuse, because this horror classic will have you leaving the lights on 24/7 as you run your little space heater.

The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- Three siblings stumble into another world where it's always winter under the rule of the evil White Witch. With their help, Aslan (lion and savior) can banish her and bring spring to the realm once again. It sounds like a simple kids book, but it's a powerful allegory and beautifully written. It will make you remember what's magical about this season.

The-Lion-the-Witch-and-the-Wardrobe.jpghttp://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/8178

Honorable mentions go to Jack London's White Fang, Piers Paul Read's Alive, Gary Paulsen's Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child, Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, Leif Enger's Peace Like a River, Lone Alaskan Gypsy's A Tundra Tale, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and Donna Tarte's The Secret History. Unfortunately, there is only so much room here, and I already exceeded it.

Books | leave a comment


Picture Books and Graphic Novels

Picture Books. At some point in our lives, we're all told that we need to move on. We need to read "at our age level", whatever that means. As a future children's librarian, I'm required to take two different classes centered solely on the picture book. So why do we encourage young readers to move beyond such amazing and poignant book forms?

Picture books can be a lot of different things. There can be no words (but still have a very meaningful story). There can be a lot of words (have you ever looked at illustrated fairytales? sometimes those have a lot of words!).

But one thing we're usually taught as we grow up is that picture books and graphic novels are totally different forms. Usually we're taught that in high school by someone who reads graphic novels or maybe by teachers who are open to graphic novels as a form.

The ALA Youth Media Awards kind of brought the question of graphic novels to the foreground.

First of all, congratulations to all the winners and honored books! And, I'm happy to say, several graphic novels received awards this year. But there's two I think are really relevant to this conversation.

This One Summer received a Caldecott honor. Caldecott honors are reserved for books "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children" (Caldecott website definition). This One Summer is a graphic novel, and according to Amazon, aged for teens 12-18. This One Summer is the first graphic novel to be awarded a Caldecott honor. I'm always excited when graphic novels win awards, but for this particular case, I have to question whether it should have been awarded it or not.

On the other hand, El Deafo by Cece Bell received a Newbery honor. Newbery's by definition are given "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" (Newbery website definition) . El Deafo is also a graphic novel and aimed, again according to Amazon, at ages 8-12. Those qualifications seem to fit the Newbery requirements exactly.

Again, I love graphic novels. I'm so happy for all award honors and winners. However, I think This One Summer's honor does open up some complicated questions regarding the Caldecott award and what qualifies. I'll be looking forward to seeing how this affects future winners!

All the Best -- Hayley

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Snowpocalypse and the Brunch Bunch

I survived "Snowpocalypse" (as work called it)! Clearly, librarians love melodrama. It was my first blizzard in New England, and I actually kind of liked it. I walked around in the back yard in the middle of it, and it was so quiet that it didn't feel like I was in Boston at all, more like I was on vacation in some winter wonderland.

The only real trouble was AFTER the storm. No one knew where to put all the snow, so pedestrians couldn't walk on un-shoveled sidewalks and a lot of streets were only one lane even after being plowed. So commuting was a nightmare all around, for drivers and public transportation users. I waited an hour for a bus that never came and another 40 minutes for the T and by that time I was running so late that I hailed a cab, so it cost me more money to get to work than I actually made that day.

On the bright side, I had brunch with some friends the Sunday before the storm and it was nice to see everyone. All who attended started SLIS during the summer of 2014, so we all had classes together for 12 hours a week for six weeks. That makes people bond! A brunch for this group at the beginning of each semester has become something of a tradition that I very much look forward to... that and the tradition of getting many drinks together after the semester ends.

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Behold the piles of unwanted snow.

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Introducing the Brunch Bunch! (L to R: Lizzie, Amanda, Sara, Sam, Meaghan, Christina, and Nick)
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kuntz, all rights reserved.

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Time Management

About ten years ago, I had a very high profile job.  I carried a Blackberry (when that was a new, cool thing), was on call all the time, and regularly handled work issues at night and on the weekend while doing something else.  It was not unusual for me to be working while I was at book club, or away for the weekend with my husband, or at the beach.  I totally thrived on the stress and excitement. 

Then I had kids, and realized that talking to a newspaper reporter while my children were in the bathtub was not something to be proud of, so I left that job.

I stopped multitasking and honed my scheduling and time management skills.  I ditched the Blackberry, and waited several years before I got an iPhone.   I realized I  not only loved doing just one thing at a time, but I performed better when I did things one at a time.  I was present, in the moment, with my kids.  I found interesting freelance work that fit my schedule.  I waited to answer emails and calls until I was ready to answer them.  My mind was happy.

Then I signed up for an online class.

Everyone says that online classes let you do the work on your own schedule, but that's not proving to be the case for me.  It's only the second week, and I already feel like I'm behind.  Because people can do the work whenever they want, I can see who has already signed up for a presentation topic or contributed to a discussion in Moodle, and I have a constant feeling that I'm missing something.  Sure, there were two snow days this week, and I worked twice the shifts I usually work at the library, since we're down a staff person, so I've had less (read: no) big blocks time for my schoolwork.  And it's been really hard to get any schoolwork done in the pockets of time that do appear.  Every time I say, "oh, the kids are playing quietly, I'll just log on to Moodle and do part of an assignment," I see how much everyone else has done and freak out.  Or I post something, and then get overwhelmed with all the emails telling me other people have posted replies, because I don't have time to read the replies because the kids are no longer playing quietly and in fact are screaming their heads off and I need to make them dinner and their school is closed again tomorrow and we need to shovel and the house is a disaster.

Deep breath.

I know it will get better and I'll find a groove with the online class.  I can schedule smaller chunks of time for schoolwork throughout the week, rather than fewer, larger blocks.  My time management skills are sharp, and I really enjoy school, work, and, most of all, my family.  Making all of those things fit into a week is totally doable (as long as we don't get another blizzard anytime soon... I refuse to look at Monday's forecast...).

Wish me luck.

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland

So I was wondering if winter was ever going to hit the Boston area. Coming to Massachusetts from Montana, I was told by everyone, "Watch out for their winters! It's colder out there! Make sure you're prepared!" I'd been a little let down by the weather so far.

I'm not particularly a fan of snow. In fact, I usually say that I don't like it. But growing up in Montana, you get use to snow starting around October and lasting through about March. Occasionally, it snows outside that time, like when I went to my Freshman undergrad orientation, and it snowed in June. That was unusual, but I just bought a pair of socks and a pair of sweatpants from the school store and called it good.

Now, I can say that I've finally learned what a Boston winter is like, and it wasn't as bad as I expected. It was a lot of snow. But what surprised me the most was how everything shut down. I never had a snow day growing up. It was one of those things I had read about and seen in picture books and movies, but I never experienced one. If there was school, you went to school. There could be rain, snow, wind, power outages--the only time my school cancelled classes was when we had a water boiler explode overnight and freeze. For me, It was entertaining to see how quickly everything shut down.

I was more excited by the snow we got on Saturday than Monday and Tuesday. Saturday, I had class. I had to get up and catch a train and wander to campus in the snow. And it made me happy. Being without snow was really hard. It makes life seem so different from home. I always think I'd like to live somewhere like Southern California or Hawaii, but in reality, without snow, I just feel very confused about the year.

So while I'm not looking forward to trekking to the train station and to campus from the T stop, I keep getting a little bit happy. Snow is inconvenient, but it's so fun. In it's own weird way, snow is very comforting to me. For those of you who experienced your first Boston snow like me, I sure hope you enjoyed it! I feel bad for people who experienced the bad effects of the storm (power outages and flooding are the worst). But I hope we're all ready to see the next storm with some experience under our belts.

All the Best - Hayley

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Welcome to 2015!

Fourth semester at SLIS.

Here we go!

Indeed, it seems that the month of January has just flown on by. But unlike some of you, I have spent about 95% of it here in Boston rather then home with my family. The reason? Well, it's because the offices at my job, as a student worker at the student services center (haha shameless plug), were open as we prepped for both the New Year and new students. With so much to do, I've lost track of the time. Instead of spending the days at home, lounging around, I was on my feet, running around and performing key tasks. Working from the perspective of being behind the scenes, I must vocalize my respect for all of those who are part of SLIS faculty and staff. These men and women are some of the most dedicated individuals I've ever seen. In the days leading up to the Spring 2015 Orientation, I watched as everyone in SLIS came together, both student workers and members of the faculty and staff, to ensure that we gave our newest students a warm welcome to both Boston and to SLIS. It is remarkable how many things must be organized and completed for an event that is less then twelve hours. And yet, everyone involved with the event was on campus each day, working as hard as possible to ensure that everything ran smoothly. From my office at the Student Services Center, myself and the other student worker spent the first three weeks of January prepping folders, checking names, organizing the day's events, and finalizing which snacks would be served. It was quite the effort but I can honestly say that the reward was worth it. Spring 2015 Orientation went off without any problems. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it was fantastic to be here on campus to greet the new students. Oh, and in case you are one of the students who joined me and Lindsey McEwen for our tour of SLIS and the Simmons academic campus, thank you for being a great audience and putting up with us on our first ever Simmons tour. I hope all of the new students, along with everyone else, enjoyed their first week of classes. 

Although I've been on Simmons campus since the 6th of January, coming in last Tuesday for my first class of the week (I have another Thursday evening and am also taking an online course), it felt somewhat strange sitting down in a classroom and taking my first batch of notes of the year! Unlike times in the past, I wasn't hit with a wave of "First Day of School Jitters". This time around, I was ready and excited to be back in student mode. However, considering the snow storm about to hit us, one that I am affectionately calling "Snow-ocolpyse", my second week of school is starting to look like it will be a short one. Unlike most sane people, I am actually really excited for the snow; it is why winter is my number one favorite season! While I'm not a big fan of the harsh, bitter cold itself, news of snowfall will always bring a smile to my face. While I selected Simmons College for grad school due to its reputation for the library and information science program, I'll confess its location might have had something to do with my ultimate decision. But despite my joy about our impending blanket of snow, I will acknowledge that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Considering the Weather Channel's blizzard predictions, I do urge that people stay inside where it is warm for the next few days. While the city of Boston is fairly good about clearing the roads, it is often better to be safe than sorry. I know with certainty that my three roommates and I are preparing for a potential snow day, one filled with movies, video games, and hot chocolate. I'll probably take a ton of pictures from my apartment to capture the winter magic.

While as of Monday morning, school is still scheduled for tomorrow, I hope that everyone takes the precautions that they need in order to stay safe. Drive carefully and be mindful of black ice. Otherwise, I hope that everyone finds some enjoyment in tonight's and tomorrow's snowfall. I know that I will!

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So it Begins

There is not much to say this week. Classes started, and work and my internship continued. Reading through my course syllabi and writing all the due dates for each class's papers and presentations into my planner next to my work hours, suddenly the new semester became real. Seeing everything on paper like that made it click, so to speak, in my brain.

Apart from being overwhelming, there were also a lot of good moments in my week where I got to catch up with peers whom I hadn't seen since last semester. Now that I'm further along in my program, it's pleasant to be in courses with people I've gotten to know in previous semesters, either through classes or student groups. A lot of my projects involve group work, so it's nice to be able to eliminate the anxiety I felt in the past over not knowing who would make a good teammate.

In retrospect, I can say that previous anxiety was entirely unfounded. I think one of my favorite parts of SLIS and information science in general is the quality of people I've found in the program and in the field. Everyone seems so smart, passionate, and dedicated, as well as fun, unpretentious, and a bit nerdy (in the best way). It's one thing to love what you do, but it's even better to also love the people who do what you do.

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Who Am I Scheduling For: Me or My Kids?

Well hello, second semester!  It's nice to see you.  And I think I'm going to enjoy your courses, even though I picked them based on what was offered at a time that still allowed me to pick my kids up at school every day, and not really based on what I actually wanted to take.

Sigh. 

Last fall, when we were registering for the spring semester, I had a list of things I needed in my schedule.  Not one of them was an actual class.

  • I didn't want to take a Monday class, because of all the Monday holidays.
  • I didn't want to take a Friday class, because my kids have several Fridays off for teacher professional development and Parent-Teacher conferences.
  • I wanted morning classes, because my husband can drive the kids to school if I take a 9am class, but I'd have to find a babysitter if I took a 1pm or 6pm class.  

At some point, I know, I'm going to have to take classes that are only offered at one certain time.  But now, I'm still taking the required courses which are offered at multiple times, and I thought I could find classes that met my bizarre requirements.  And I really wanted to take Reference.  Unfortunately, the scheduling just didn't work out.

So, I ended up with 404 - Principles of Management (Wednesday 9am, Andrew can bring the girls to school) and 488- Technology for Information Professionals, which I'm taking online.

I was really hesitant to sign up for an online class.  Part of the reason I was excited about Simmons was the idea of going to class, meeting professors and classmates and having in-person conversations.  But, with an online class I can still pick the kids up at 3pm, and if they're sick or there's a snow day, I can stay home and not worry about missing a lecture or presentation.  Simmons has a March spring break, while my kids have the traditional February and April vacation weeks, so the online class means two fewer times I have to figure out childcare (although I'm sure they'll be watching Frozen for the millionth time while I watch lectures online).  Perhaps most importantly, as my advisor pointed out, I'll likely have a lot of interaction with online learning in the future, both for professional development, and as a librarian instructing patrons, so it's great to experience it as a student now.

I'll let you know how it goes.  And if you have any tips for managing online classes (or, for that matter, managing being in school and having kids), I'd love to hear them.

 

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Productivity and the Spring

How is it already Spring semester?

I feel like the break just flew by, and to be honest, I didn't even really do that much!

I volunteered a couple of times. I had my book club meet. I read ten books or so. I watched a lot of movies. I watched an entire season of Scandal, and Cousins on Call. (I watch an honestly embarrassing amount of television shows.)

But I didn't really do that much.

I have the hardest time compelling myself to do things if I'm not busy. If I have a whole bunch of things happening, I manage to get a whole lot of things done. But if I'm completely free all day--I do absolutely nothing. Well, I don't stare at the wall. I read stuff online. I spend a lot of time on Tumblr or twitter. I watch a lot of TV.  But I feel like once the semester starts again, I'm more productive. Of course, there's always the initial confusion of trying to get back into the swing of things, but once the first week or two passes, I feel so much better about life.

I know that people typically do resolutions at the turn of the year, but I think it's vital to constantly be thinking about ways in which I can be a better person. Thus, one of the things I'm trying to be better at is being productive outside the bounds of school. For me, because I'm mostly interested in YA and children's books, this means reading a lot of that genre. It means keeping a different blog where I can talk about the books I read and the reasons I love YA books so much. It means doing more than just hanging out.

I don't want to be a workaholic, but I kind of think I might just have that type of personality.

What do you do when you have free time? Is it as important to you to stay busy as it is to me?

Either way, welcome back to another semester.

All the best--

Hayley

Relaxing | leave a comment


What's in Store

I started a job last week at the Snell Library at Northeastern University. It's in the Circulation Department (called Access Services there) supervising work-study students at the information desk, doing interlibrary loans (ILLs) and working with reserves, and a variety of other basic things. I think it's a great way to get my feet wet at a large, academic, research library.

I also started my cataloging internship at WGBH at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Unlike at Snell, I feel really confident about what I'm doing here. I have experience with digital collections and metadata from my internship last fall at Emerson College's digital archives. I'm sure I'll catch on and feel right at home at my other job soon though.

Classes start next week. I'm taking Principles of Management (LIS 404 with Mónica Colón-Aguirre who could read the phone book and make it interesting), Subject Cataloging and Classification (LIS 417 with Danny Joudrey who literally wrote the book--the textbook--for Organization of Information, LIS 415), and Metadata online (LIS 445-OL with Kathy Wisser who I'm pretty sure helped invent Encoded Archival Description). It's going to be a blast. A very busy blast!

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