Student Snippets


Outside the Box

Between working in a public library children's department, getting my master's at SLIS, and hanging around with my kids and their friends, I spend a lot of time talking about, thinking about and witnessing children reading.

For eager readers, there are limitless options for books to read, stories to write, and vocabulary to learn.

For more reluctant readers, it might help to think outside the box.  Lately, I've seen hesitant readers fall in love with the following:

  • Poetry.  Specifically, Shel Silverstein.  His poems are short enough to not be intimidating, and interesting enough to encourage kids to stick with challenging words.  Drawings help pull readers into the text.  And-- bonus! -- people of all ages find Shel Silverstein hilarious.
  • Graphic Novels.  Even though there are plenty of Early Readers with the same number of words on a page and pictures to help you follow the story, something about the graphic format really captures reluctant readers.  I love anything published by Toon, and, for older readers, Raina Telgemeier's fabulous books and El Deafo by Cece Bell.
  • Audio Books. Children can enjoy books they're not yet able to read, while building vocabulary, increasing their ability to follow a plot and engaging with characters.   
  • The Typewriter.  Some kids obsess over spelling, which can really slow down the writing process.  The novelty of an old-fashioned typewriter (if you can dig one up from your parent's basement like we did) can make writing fun again.  The lack of the computer's spellcheck and the pencil's hand cramp also helped!

What inspires and encourages the hesitant readers in your life?


Happy 150th Birthday, Alice!

It's almost hard to believe that it has been 150 years since Lewis Carroll's Alice fell down the rabbit hole and tumbled into the weird, mad, and impossible world of Wonderland. Since its publication in 1865, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has not only become part of the literary classic but also a figure that squarely represents the innocence of childhood.

Considering its age, it's understandable that there have been quite a few interpretations on Carroll's -or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's- most famous character. Indeed, the metaphorical journey of Alice has almost become as iconic as the girl herself. So, in honor of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland turning the big 1-5-0, I've compiled a top five list of Alices. But before I reveal the list, let's get some things out of the way.
  1. This list and its ranking has been created based on my own personal opinions. So yes, expect some biases
  2. For the sake of simplicity, I'm only sticking to Alices from direct adaptions. There are simply too many Alices from works that are allusions or influenced by Carroll's novel to count
  3. Yes I am excluding the 'Once Upon a Time' miniseries since I didn't watch it
  4. All characters featured on this list are from works that I have personally seen, read, or played
Alright enough stalling. Here's my list!
5. Alice from Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
I figured that no Alice list would be complete without the lead from Disney's classic film. While I am not a super big fan of the movie itself; I find it rather slow paced and think Alice is a bit annoying, for many, this is the first version of Alice in Wonderland they experienced. Despite my personal qualms with the character, she is the only Alice on the list that's closest to the original age of the novel's Alice. Considering that, it makes sense that she acts the way she does; she is a child after all. In a recent NPR interview with a Lewis Carroll scholar, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst talked about how the story itself was crafted and injected with the love that Dodgson has for children. Perhaps that's why the story has continued to resonate with modern society today. We were all children once, each with our own wild imaginations. Alice's adventures could very well be one's interpretations of an afternoon spent inside the imagination of a child. It's wild and crazy yet beautiful and magical. Yet despite its charms, at the end of the day, there is nothing better than being back home in reality. With the right balance of whimsy, weirdness, and Disney magic, the movie does a fantastic job at translating the original work into a cinematic masterpiece.  
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4. Alice from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton's take on the story deserves kudos for trying to be the sequel to the original set of stories that we didn't ask for or need. Rather than being the story of a young girl falling down the rabbit hole, Alice is a teenager stuck in the mundanity of life, an unconventional person being suffocated by conventionality. This time, when Alice lands in Wonderland -Underland- , it's because she is some prophesied hero who will ultimately take down the Queen of Hearts and will slay the Jabberwock. However, there is a catch: is she the right Alice? While I wasn't in love with this Burton film, I did enjoy the fact that Alice is simply just too out-of-the-box for Victorian England and that, despite social pressures to conform, doesn't. As someone who also doesn't always feels like she fits in, it was cool to see this uncomfortableness reflected on the silver screen within the context of Alice in Wonderland. Also, unlike the former Alice, this one actually DOES something rather than sitting down, crying, and waiting for help. As will become apparent, I have a preference for characters that are proactive with solving their problems. However, this Alice does sport the best fashion. I really wish I had access to her closet...

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3. Alice from the Syfy miniseries Alice (2009)
I'll confess right off the bat, I am a big fan of Syfy's miniseries. Tin Men was amazing and Alice, at least for me, served as a great follow-up to the channel's reimaginations of classic works. So what about this Alice? Well, for one thing she is a judo sensei which means that this Alice can actually kick some butt. For the most part, this is an Alice that doesn't need no saving. Another reason I really love this Alice and take on the story is the fact that she has both a personality and a compelling backstory. We learn at the beginning that Alice's father disappeared when she was just a child. Within the first half hour, we see that this is something that has continued to haunt her into her adult life. When she finally tumbles into Wonderland, Alice learns its dark secrets and that her father could be one of the many people trapped there. Her journey through Wonderland becomes more than just an adventure to get home; it becomes a race against time to save the lives of those she loves. The story in Alice is an intense journey that spans across the unique landscape of Wonderland and involves a plethora of amazing characters. Unlike the former entries on this list, this story isn't for kids and I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Taking away the limitations of being a children's story, the tale of Alice has a lot of room to play around with the concept of a girl or woman's adventure underground in a world that doesn't make sense.
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2. Alice from American McGee's Alice (2000) and Alice: Madness Returns (2011)
What if Alice's childhood adventures in Wonderland all occurred in her mind? What if, due to a horrific tragedy, her mind and Wonderland, have been corrupted by insanity? By far the darkest incarnation of Alice on this list, this Alice does not mess around. Armed with the legendary Vorpal Blade, Alice hacks and slashes her way through the warped and dangerous landscape of Wonderland, vanquishing her enemies in a flurry of flourish and blood. As someone who loves reimaginations of my favorite stories, American McGee's Alice and its sequel are everything I love rolled into two amazing video games. While the former two Alices aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, this Alice is the one who gives the concept of getting one's hands dirty an all new meaning. This game is as beautiful as it is violent and I love the fact that it is a twisted take on Lewis Carroll's Alice that stands at its center, bloody blade in hand. 
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1. Alyss from The Looking Glass Wars series (2004) by Frank Beddor
This three book series centers on the adventures of Alyss Heart, princess of Wonderland. After a violent coup caused by her Aunt Redd, a child Alyss finds herself passing through a portal into Victorian England where no one believes her story save for a kind Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who transforms her story into a work of fiction, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. After being trapped on earth for many years, Alyss convinces herself her former life was just a dream, only to be pulled back into her old world after reuniting with old friends. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series and this take on Alice. Alyss starts out as a child and we see her grow into both a woman and an eventual queen. Armed with her powerful imagination, Alyss is a force to be reckoned with, and only grows stronger over the course of the series. If you are looking for a new take on the story of Alice and her adventures combined with a complex and unique leading lady and settings and characters that are unforgettable, this is the book series for you! 
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You Had Me At Diorama

With classes starting this week, I've been running around checking things off of my "To Do In Boston" List. Two weekends ago, I walked the entire Freedom Trail with some friends. (It's only about 2.5 miles long.) The weather was sunny and breezy, so it was the perfect time to take in the sights outdoors. We hit every stop! I was most impressed with the less touristy ones, like King's Chapel and the Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates an early battle in the Revolutionary War and is actually located on Breed's Hill, where most of the combat took place.

If you are walking the whole trail from end to end, you can either start at the State House or at the Bunker Hill Monument. We didn't think we were going to see everything, so we started at the USS Constitution. Launched in 1797, it is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat (even though it's temporarily in dry dock). My friend Nick had been there on a tour with the New England Archivists (NEA) and had some great insights about their repository, so it was interesting to hear about that. (They have a naval historian on their full-time staff!) After we finished up there, Nick was checking his phone and realized that the Bunker Hill Monument had a museum with a diorama. He asked if we minded going back to the beginning of the trail to see it. My response was, "Sold! You had me at diorama."

The diorama was definitely worth the backtracking! It's located on the third floor of the Bunker Hill Museum, which shares a building with a branch of the Boston Public Library across the street from the monument. Because the monument itself is on a very small piece of the battlefield, and as the surrounding area has since been developed, it is difficult to read descriptions and accounts of the battle and understand exactly which events happened where and when. The diorama shows what that part of Boston looked like around the time of the Revolutionary War, and through flashing lights and accounts from primary sources, we gained a more comprehensive understanding of the scope and chronology of the battle.

Overall, it was a fun day and the history of some of the stops was so palpable and significant I that was surprised that I became a little unexpectedly emotional, proud, and awestruck.

The following weekend we visited Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's house (which was also George Washington's headquarters during the American Revolution). Entry and a 50-minute tour of the property were free. This is a less traveled history stop, but so far it has been my favorite. The gardens are well maintained and everything in the house was owned by the Longfellow family in the late 19th century, except the carpeting and window dressings. It was a treat to have such a long, informative tour with a very knowledgeable and personable tour guide.

I took a few pictures, but none of them with the blog in mind, so they are sort of random:

IMG_1085.jpgA mosaic marking the original site of Boston Latin School on the Freedom Trail


Gravestone of a beloved family pet, buried in 1914, in the backyard of the Longfellow House


View of the Longfellow House from the garden


A New View

Summer has been a bit of a whirlwind. I've finished two classes, I've been doing an internship and volunteering, and my roommate just moved back across the country. She moved out here with me from Montana, and I've loved having her here. Before she left, we managed to sneak in a last minute trip into the city. We checked out spots along the Freedom Trail, and it was interesting to see history in a place where I have grown accustomed to living. Once I got used to being in the city and used to treading the same path (or same couple of paths) every day, I stopped looking around me. I stopped seeing what I was going by every day.

I think it's easy to fall into the trap of "oh I see that every day, it's no longer interesting". Ever since that walk along the Freedom Trail, I've been trying to remember that everything is interesting. Every person has a story. Every object has a history. It's nice to approach each day with curiosity and delight. It's hard when it's early or I'm tired or it's rush hour and everyone is thinking about themselves, but when I manage to notice something new, it's delightful.

Tonight I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for Thirsty Thursday -- a night where you can get a drink at the museum and visit and explore. It was a fun event. However, for me, the best part of the night was later on. My friend and I had stopped for dinner afterwards, and when we exited the restaurant, I had her direct me to the nearest T. While we were walking, I felt completely lost. It was dark, the city lights were bright. It felt like the big city for the first time in a long time. And then I realized where we were. It's a street I walk down at least once a week to volunteer at my school. It looked entirely different in the lights at night. It was magical and beautiful in an entirely different way than in the morning.

All the Best -



The Funny and the Serious

Happy Summer! 

Two links today, one to make you laugh and one to make you think.

Laugh: Librarian Problems.  My favorite might be "watching patrons try to find things in the collection after shifting," especially the comment "watching the rest of the staff after you shifted."  Um, yes, that was me.

Think: The Library News.  A great collection of articles.  Unsurprisingly, several of these have appeared in my Facebook feed from other sources, and it's nice to have them all in one place.



Summer Fun: Musical Mondays

In recent years I have come to realize something about myself: I absolutely love traditions. Defined by Merriam-Webster as being a "a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time," traditions are something that anyone and everyone has. At the same time, traditions can be anything that one or many people want them to be.  

From family traditions such as always stopping at a specific spot on a road-trip to more sacred and religiously symbolic traditions such as attending Easter Mass, lighting the Sabbath candles, or by marking the end of Ramadan by celebrating Eid al-Fitr, traditions are practices that unite individuals together in unique and special ways. And then there are silly traditions; the kind that you have with your close friends, that ones that just sort of started out of nowhere but have since become something sort-of special. Within my apartment, we have a tradition. We call it Musical Mondays.
What started one Monday night a few weeks back with a collective urge to watch the musical Jesus Christ Superstar has since become a weekly gathering of the roommates where we celebrate the musical movie genre. Thus far we've watched Jesus Christ Superstar (a personal favorite), Joseph and the Technicolor Dream CoatThe Lion King, Godspell, and as of this MondayReefer Madness. Since all four of us have different tastes when it comes to musicals, my roommates and I have compiled quite a list. We've got modern musicals like Moulin Rouge and Rent and classical ones such as Hello Dolly and Fiddler on the Roof. 
As someone who used to be a self-described Broadway brat, Musical Mondays has been a blast, and not just for me. Together my roommates and I have become our own weird version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, questioning and commenting throughout the entire film. We're all fans of that sort of humor which always ensures that no movie we watch will be boring. Considering that, you can imagine how much fun -and confusion- we had while watching Godspell. Thank goodness one of my roommates paid attention while attending religious school and helped clear up some of the confusion, most of which came from my end of the couch. 
As far as traditions go, Musical Mondays has quickly become one of my favorites. We'll have to see what the fall semester will have in store but I think it would be awesome if we could carry this tradition past the summer. There are certainly enough films out there to keep the tradition going. I for one would love to put Footloose on our watch list. Now I know what you're thinking: "That's not a musical." Well, it did become one, and the amount of music and dancing should compensate for the lack of singing. And it has Kevin Bacon in it! That alone should be enough of a reason to watch it. Unfortunately, my roommates and I watched it together not too long ago so if we do watch it together, it probably won't be for awhile. Oh well, I guess I can wait :P


Summertime Panic

As an online student, it is difficult to connect with one's professors or fellow students on a regular basis. Certainly in this day and age there are so many ways to reach out to someone - email, social media, Moodle and discussion forums, but these will always pale in comparison to good ol' fashioned face-to-face time.  While I know that I can reach out to my professors and advisor when necessary, and I certainly have, I've learned to be my own support.  Because of this, coupled by the fact that I spend so much time on my own reading through discussion forums, tracking down articles, and navigating through modules on Moodle, my education often feels like a very solitary experience.  I learned a great lesson recently in taking responsibility for my personal experience as a Simmons graduate student, specifically regarding summer semester.

During my undergraduate education, summers usually involved internships in random fields as I tried to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do.  I was still unsure about library science as my career path, so I dabbled in public relations, consulting, and even theatre management and production off-Broadway.  I never had the chance to spend the summer at school or take a class between semesters, so I didn't know what to expect with my upcoming summer semester at Simmons... but I was ready to go!  Three classes, fully registered, bring it on!

Then the end of May came and went.  I was confused, expecting a three-month semester similar to my Fall and Spring experiences. Wasn't the summer semester supposed to be starting up?  Where were all of my classes on Moodle?

Finally I emailed my advisor in a panic: was I fully registered? Was there an issue with Moodle? Was I missing valuable class time? I had emailed my advisor before registration for feedback about my potential schedule and received confirmation that my plans were on the mark.  Perhaps my advisor was busy, and my email received a quick once-over before an even quicker response... but at the end of the day, I discovered that I had packed three classes into a semester that, unbeknownst to me, was barely over a month long.  To make matters worse, I'd be on vacation for almost two weeks during the same period.

My panic only increased. I've always been one to plan ahead and stick to it, and now all of that was up in the air. What do I do now?  The vacation was already booked and paid for so cancelling was not an option. Will this affect my studies?  Will I have to drop all of my classes and stay in grad school for another semester? Can I credit my tuition payment for the summer to another semester?  Student Survival Mode, usually reserved only for Finals Period, kicked in and I immediately reached out to my professors, asking for options, syllabi, anything that I could use to figure out a new plan.  Thankfully, all of my professors were extremely understanding and promised to work with me as much as possible.  While I did decide to drop one course (in favor of taking it during a standard semester), I am confident that I can get this work done, enjoy my vacation, and earn some credits this summer as planned!

So off to the library for me!  I might be an online student, but you'll find me leaving my 9-to-5 and going directly to in a window seat at the Beatley Library with a course reserve textbook or two as I try to get ahead before the semester starts on June 22nd - just in case you didn't know the date either!

Good luck to everyone else taking a class or two this summer! May your studies be stressless and air conditioned!


Summertime Gladness

So lately I've been blogging about jobs and work and all things professional. A lot of this is because I finally feel like I know what I'm doing to a certain extent. Yay for me, but let's talk about something more interesting, namely how many more opportunities there are for fun and socializing during the break between the summer and spring semesters (and any of the semesters). This is when SLIS students have more time to spend with their friends to hang out, have get-togethers, see the sights, etc.

I'm especially grateful for the time I have now to finally grab a drink or get a cup of coffee with friends I haven't seen in months. Before, maybe we'd grab a quick coffee at school and use that time to talk about how we were too busy to get a simple cup of coffee. Now we can talk about anything really. We can even have TWO cups of coffee. Whoa, right? Talk about living it up.

I had a very enjoyable Saturday last week in particular, when my friend Sara had a get-together because all of her roommates moved out and she had her apartment to herself.  Naturally, this was the perfect opportunity to play Cards Against Humanity and have tasty food and drink. Sara made amazing lasagna and some punch that packed a lot of punch, among other delicious things. I brought dessert, and even though the temperate outside is 45 degrees now, it was in the high 80s only a few days ago when this all went down. I didn't feel like turning on the oven, so I went for a no-bake recipe for monster cookie dough dip. Sara took the leftovers because I couldn't stop eating it. I think the dip I showed up with contained less than 50% of the original recipe yield, because I kept taking about 10 spoonfuls at a time at embarrassingly short intervals for several hours before I arrived.

 IMG_1072.JPGVoila!  Monster Edible Cookie Dough Dip

So like I said, the recipe was no bake. Only a few days before I prepared it, I was on the phone with my dad passive aggressively complaining about how hot it was outside (and inside). He asked about my air conditioner, and then I laughed out loud and told him we didn't have one. This is normal in New England, but to my dad, who lives in South Florida (which wasn't even habitable until central AC was invented and the Flagger railroad could transport it), this was like saying I didn't have running water or electricity. He acted like I was living in third world conditions. Now I understand how ignorant and dramatic that sounds, but I just roll with these kinds of comments. There is no point in arguing.  But I guess there was a point in being vociferous, because two days later a "free" mini AC unit arrived on my doorstep from Since I barely slept more than five hours a night last summer because of the gross heat that felt like I was walking around in someone's mouth, I gratefully accepted. I'm not too proud for that! Not in the least.


Pen Pal Experience

This last Friday, I had the opportunity to meet up with a pen pal of mine. Back in October or November, Promising Pals sent out an email and asked for pen pals for students at the Timilty Middle School in Roslindale. I loved pen pal activities when I was in school, so I was happy to sign up for the experience.

Usually, Promising Pals asks their pals to exchange four letters. Of course, this year, the snow storms made all plans go haywire. The mail was delayed, and I, at least, received two letters within three days. It was difficult to build a rapport with my pal when the mail was so irregular.

However, Friday morning and meeting my pen pal for breakfast was exciting. The pals were able to hear a little bit about the history of the program and listen to some inspirational speeches and music. Then I got to collect my student from his classroom. We ate breakfast and bonded over basketball and horror movies. I bought him a book from the book fair, and we listened to one of the teachers sing for a bit. I had a great time. My little brother is in 8th grade, so it made me miss him. It reminded me of all the similarities about being a kid no matter where you grow up.

I haven't yet decided if I'm going to be a pal next year. It's a commitment, and I don't want to make it unless I know I can follow through. Right now, I have no idea where I'm going to be next May. However, if I think I'll still be around come this fall when sign-ups start, I'm going to find myself a pen pal. I hope you consider doing the same.

All the best,



Well, that was fast.

I just submitted the final assignment for LIS-505, Reader's Advisory.  Hurrah!

LIS-505 was a two-week class, and by that I mean a full three-credit class jammed into two weeks.  We read eight novels from different genres, about 20 articles on different aspects of reader's advisory, book selection, leading discussion groups and genre fiction, completed three assignments and gave an in-class presentation.  I'm not going to lie -- it was a lot of work in a short period of time.  But it was fun work, interesting work, and I enjoyed the professor, classmates, readings and assignments.

I did not enjoy the timeframe so much.  It turns out that I really like to take my time with assignments.  I guess I knew this, but taking a two-week class really made it clear.  Usually, I write a first draft well before the assignment is due, and revise it considerably until the day before the due date, and then try to submit early, which is essentially impossible in a two-week timeframe.  However, every once in a while it's good to work outside my comfort zone!  This certainly accomplished that!

The schedule was also tough on my family.  As I seem to write almost every blog post, I have two young children and spend a lot of time taking care of them (making lunches, driving them to and from school and gymnastics and softball and friends houses, finding art supplies, threading needles, doing laundry, breaking up fights... the list is long and varied).  In order to take this class, I had to arrange alternate pickups and have someone else keep them until 6pm for two whole weeks, which was a lot for my kids.  (As she was falling asleep the night before my last class, my exhausted eight-year-old said "Mama, can you please pick us up tomorrow?")

Still, it was only two weeks, and it was worth it to take this particular class.  I'll consider taking another short course if I'm truly passionate about the subject matter.  Now, on to summer!


Ready Set Rhubarb

Well, it might have taken a bit longer than I would have liked but at long last the Boston Ice Age has ended and Spring has firmly declared its presence. For the last few weeks of April and even the first few weeks of May, I was seriously starting to get worried. After the winter we just went through, the last thing I needed were any more days below 55 degrees. However, judging from the explosion of flowers, leaves, and the sudden outbreak of open toed shoes, I think it is safe to say that those chilly days are behind us. Goodbye winter chill, hello spring/summer humidity! 
Wait....I hate humidity. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Fortunately my apartment's ability to remain far cooler inside than it is out will mean far more pleasant days than my old place last year. While I will forever miss my very first apartment, the place's lack of windows made the unit a walk-in-oven. While this certainly encouraged my roommates and myself to get creative with ways to stay cool (three of them bought ACs, I relied on a tower fan) it also meant that any sort of activity that would have made the apartment any hotter was out. AKA any thing that required turning on the oven. Essentially, baking was outlawed! And since baking is perhaps one of my favorite activities ever, this was seriously not cool (pun not intended). 
Although Kevin Bacon won't be stopping by the apartment to celebrate my freedom to bake desserts with a catchy dance number, it does mean that I can take full advantage of Boston's multiple farmer's markets as a source for fresh fruits.  
While SoWa located in the South End is probably the most well known, there is also a farmer's market located in Copley on Tuesdays and Fridays. I actually went to the latter last Tuesday just to see what was available. While there wasn't too much yet - the winter somewhat delayed things - I did spot a vendor selling rhubarb for $3 a pound! And since rhubarb is one of those things I never knew I loved until recently, I bought two pounds of it. 
For those who have never tried it before, rhubarb is an excellent fruit to pair with berries like strawberries or blueberries because they have a slightly tart flavor that offsets the sweetness of the berries. While it does need to be cooked just a bit to soften it (uncooked rhubarb is on the tougher side), it is very easy to incorporate into any springtime dessert. For my rhubarb, I used the first pound to make a vanilla-rhubarb loaf cake. Simple but delicious, the recipe calls for sour cream which created a nice moist cake. The second pound will be used to make rhubarb and white chocolate blondies. I haven't made this dessert yet but cannot wait to do so. White chocolate is growing on me so I'm really excited to see how it pairs with the rhubarb.
If you have time this spring and summer, I highly suggest checking out the farmer's markets that I mentioned above. Its a fun thing to try if you have never been before. Oh, and if you visit SoWa, they have food trucks. 'Nuff said.


Two Jobs and Three Clasps

This past week I started two new jobs. Well one is not that new, it's the same library assistant position I had during the Spring Semester, but now my hours have been doubled and I have a few new responsibilities. As I write this, it is Memorial Day Weekend, and for the first time, I'm the senior staff person on duty. No managers today; no one will bail me out or make a tough decision for me if there is any sort of incident. It's really not a big deal on a slow weekend like this, but it's nice to know my managers think I'm competent enough to handle things. I also was invited to co-author a libguide with another librarian, which is basically a set of webpages with useful resources and for patrons on a specific subject. Many jobs I'm interested in applying for after graduation prefer applicants with experience in patron instruction and creating digital resources, so I'm excited to be able to eventually put this on my résumé.

The other new position is a summer-long internship at the State Library of Massachusetts, where I will be cataloging a collection of books donated by Governor Deval Patrick when he left office. I will also be doing original cataloging for a collection of Carnegie publications for the Special Collections department. So far, the internship has been very challenging (but enjoyable and absorbing). I have a lot to learn, so it's fortunate my boss has seemingly infinite patience.

One small part my internship experience is, however, slightly annoying: any bra I wear sets off the metal detector when I go through security to enter the building (the Massachusetts State House). Following this, a guard pulls me to the side, and I have to stand spread eagle while he passes a hand-held metal detector over me. Upon concluding that I am not a threat to the state, the guard tells me to "wear a lighter clasp next time." And then I usually quip something like, "I need three clasps. You don't want to see what two looks like."

The awkward nature of these encounters is actually pretty funny when I think about them later.  In fact, I don't think I blushed at all last time it happened.


Author Events and Expectations

Before moving out to Boston, I had never been to an author event. There were a couple in my old town, but they weren't authors I was interested in, so I never went. Since moving out here, I've had the opportunity to go to three different events (and The Horn Book Awards, but I don't count that).

I've been a little spoiled though because the first event I went to was amazing. I wrote about the experience on this blog. I went to listen to Lois Lowry speak about The Giver. It was so much fun. I only had a short wait in a line to get my book signed, and then she spoke for an hour about her life and what inspired her to write The Giver. As someone who wants to write, I love hearing what inspires other authors.

The other two events I've since gone to were hosted by the same book store. The first was to see Kiera Cass, author of The Selection series. My roommate and I got to the event pretty early, so we went next door to grab a quick bite to eat. Then we stepped into the store to purchase a book for the signing before listening to Cass' talk. They were sold out of The Heir which was the book Cass was on tour for. The downstairs where Cass' talk was held was packed. It was obvious that the store had underestimated Cass' popularity. Cass spent half an hour answering questions from the crowd. It was excellent. She was hilarious and eloquent, and it was a great experience. However, I felt like the talk was too short. I expected that they had cut her off early to get through the signing line before they closed.

When I returned the next week to see Sarah Dessen, the event was ticketed. Unfortunately, my roommate and I arrived a little bit late because of traffic, but when we arrived, Dessen was reading from her book Saint Anything. She finished and took a few questions from the crowd. I expected this event to run longer because it was earlier in the day, and Dessen is (arguably) a more popular author. However, she was given the same short amount of time to talk, and then she had a signing line.

While I enjoy meeting authors, I actually just want to listen to them talk about their process and their lives. Now that I've gone to a few events, I find myself wondering, do I just have no idea how these events are supposed to be run? Is my disappointment due to my own expectations or do these events seem shorter than they should be? I will definitely keep catching events with my favorite authors, but I'd love to get some additional input. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Summer!

-       Hayley


Exploring Options, SLIS Style

When I enrolled at SLIS, I was sure that I would take all my classes on campus, in person.  That was the whole point of going to grad school, right?  I wanted to meet my professors, form relationships with my classmates, ask questions and have face to face conversations.  Then, for family and scheduling reasons, I ended up taking an online class this past semester.  While I still prefer on campus classes and face-to-face interactions, I now appreciate the great flexibility online classes provide, and I'm actually taking another one in the fall. 

I was also pretty sure I'd take all my classes during the traditional fall and spring semesters.  A friend of mine, who also went through Simmons when her kids were in Elementary school, shared horror stories of the shortened, intense summer semester -- "that's when my kids learned to cook their own meals, since all I did was study."  However -- and I think you know where I'm going -- I'm about to start a 2-week "short course."  It meets every day for two weeks from 1-5, with the regular amount of reading, papers and assignments worked in around the class meetings.   I'm not entirely sure how that will all fit into two weeks, but at the end I'll have 3 more credits and be that much closer to my MLS. 

(Don't even get me started on the favors I called in to get my kids picked up from school every day for two weeks by someone who is not me -- let's just say I owe my mother-in-law and my friends Karen and Alenka big time.)

All this to say, I'm really glad SLIS has so many options -- in person, online, short, West -- something for every schedule.  And I'm also glad I'm trying something new and different.  Fingers crossed it's a good experience -- I'll let you know!


Revisiting Childhood

As someone who is pursuing a degree in Children's Literature and Library Science, I spend a lot of time in my courses rereading books I loved as a child. I also get to read books which I missed as a child or which came out after I grew up a little. Many of the books which I reread are considered classics in the field of Children's Literature (Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, Ramona Quimby Age 8). I always enjoy reading the books. Sometimes I will get little flashes of memory-feeling which remind me how I felt when I read the book when I was younger. I'll remember having my mom read to me, or the first time I connected to the character.

Outside of school, I've moved away from rereading in the last few years. There are just so many books out there! If I reread a book, I'm giving away the time which I could otherwise spend reading a brand-new adventure! However, this last month, the West Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library was featuring The Giver as their Roxbury Reads! books. I loved The Giver when I read it in fourth grade. I think I read it three or four times that year. But it's been about 16 years since I read it. So before Lois Lowry came to talk, I decided I wanted to reread it. I wanted a fresh reminder of what she would be talking about.

Once again, The Giver blew my mind. For those of you who aren't familiar with the text, it follows Jonah, a young boy who is turning twelve. In his community, when you turn twelve, you are apprenticed to the job you will do for the rest of your life. And he is the only person selected to apprentice with The Receiver. Soon Jonah must make choices which change how he perceives the entire world.

Rereading The Giver brought me back to fourth grade. It reminded me of the first time I read it (or who knows, maybe the second or third time) when I was trying to understand this unusual community. When I felt compelled to disagree with the adults in the story. When I shared the book with my friends. I was always a voracious reader, but I think The Giver was my first introduction to books as a means for justice.

Listening to Lois Lowry speak about how she thought of the idea for The Giver was interesting. It was informative. The connections across her life that led her to create this story gave me chills. I enjoyed meeting her and I enjoyed listening to her speak. was also strange. Books belong to their readers. That's something John Green says quite frequently. I'd never realized how much I believed that phrase until I was listening to Lois Lowry. As a writer, it was interesting to listen to her explain how she'd gathered ideas across her life and pulled them into The Giver. But as a reader, I didn't care. It didn't change the text for me, or my interpretation of it. The Giver was mine. Just as it belonged to everyone else in that room who had read it.

While I'm enjoying the opportunity to meet writers and listen to them speak about their books, and I'll continue to attend events as long as I can, they don't change the book. Books belong to the people who love them.

What author would you love to meet? Have you ever met someone and had your opinion of the book change? Let me know in the comments!

All the best - Hayley

Children's Literature

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Even though I've been living in Boston for almost a year now, I have yet experience and do many things that are quintessentially "Boston", which is to say touristy in the best possible way. So I have made a list of things that I want to do this summer, including walking the Freedom Trail, taking a Duck Tour, walking around the Public Garden, and going to the North End for Italian food. 

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to start crossing off things on my list early by going to a Red Sox game. I went with my boyfriend and his friends to a night game at Fenway Park where we drank and ate overpriced park food and beverages, sang along to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", watched a proposal on the JumboTron, bopped around in our seats to cheesy walk-up songs, and saw the Green Monster/Monstah (the legendary left field wall) in person.

Attending classes at the main campus means that I'm constantly in the heart of the Fenway, just blocks from the stadium. While I'm often to exposed things like pedestrian-packed streets, overcrowded public transit, and street vendors on game days, this was the first time that I felt like I was part of a time-honored Boston tradition. People of the city have been attending baseball games and other events at the park by the thousands for over 100 years. And now that I've been, I can't wait to go back. I'll probably take advantage of the discounted tickets available at the Simmons Student Box Office next time, which is a nice perk.


Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on 04/29/2015. Photo courtesy of Wesley Fiorentino, all rights reserved 2015.


Link Roundup

Here's a wrap-up of library- and book-related links people have sent me recently.  As I've said before, no one ever did this when I practiced law or worked in state government...

TIME's 100 Best Children's Books.  I like all kinds of "best" lists, mostly because it's fun to see what other people think is "best" and how that relates to my personal idea of "best."  This list is pretty comprehensive, but I don't love the format (you have to click for each book, the Time banner obscures the top of each title, and every few books you're stopped for an ad -- what's up with that, Time?). 

Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2014.  You've probably seen this list, originally from the ALA's most recent State of America's Libraries report.  The ones I haven't read are definitely going on my summer reading list.  Boo, censorship!

Library Partnership.  A friend teaches an online course for high school history teachers that focuses on using primary sources in the classroom. One of her students is involved in this program in Florida.  The website doesn't  have much information, but it sounds like a super partnership between the local public library, school system and local social service organizations.  I'd like to learn more!

Book Recommendations to Use in the Classroom from the Center for Character and Social Responsibility at BU.  A great list of children's books organized by grade level and topic with important categories such as "citizenship," "responsibility" and "courage."

"Inside a Book".  A catchy song by award-winning local songwriter Alastair Moock and his eight-year-old daughter, Elsa.  All proceeds from downloads of the song support Mass Literacy.

The Best Feminist Books for Younger Readers, from Book Riot.  While short, this list offers a range of books, some of which I've heard of (and my kids have read), and some that we'll get to this summer.  (As I was writing this, I told my older daughter that I was going to make her booklists for the summer.  Thank goodness she's excited about that idea!)

What about you -- any good links to share?

Libraries | People

The task of getting...

Getting into a library I mean.

Normally this isn't something that most people would assume would be a difficult task, and yet, depending on where you go, it can be a herculean effort. A few years back my uncle and I decided to spend a day in New York City. Since I had just recently decided that I wanted to pursue a M.S. degree in LIS, my uncle wanted to celebrate by showing me the library of his former grad school, Columbia University. As a then student worker in my undergraduate's school library, I was accustomed to the idea of non-students visiting a school's library. Sometimes it's tourists, other times researchers. In the case of where I worked, it didn't matter who you were; the library was part of the local community. Considering this,  you can imagine my surprise when we arrived at Columbia's library and were stopped at the door. "Sorry, only students and members of the faculty can enter," said the guard. "Well," my uncle replied back, "I am an alumni of the school. I wanted to show my niece the library while I am in town." He showed the guard his alumni card. The guard paused for a long moment and then said this: "You check out, she has to wait outside." I couldn't believe it. I had just been turned away from a library. A LIBRARY! Looking back on that day, I thought it must have been an odd fluke of nature. Little did I know...

Yesterday afternoon I accompanied a friend to a local university's library and was reminded that sometimes, not all libraries are the super friendly and awesome places that we hope that they are. The reason for this adventure? She needed to gain access to a book for a project and this particular library was the only one in Boston and Cambridge combined that had it. After speaking with a representative on the phone, she had been assured that it was quite alright for her to come by on Saturday to make some scans. Easy peasy. Or not. 

When we arrived at this university, which will remain anonymous, we were greeted by a less than enthusiastic librarian. I say librarian but really, I think her position is something more akin to a gate keeper of the books. After all, her responsibility seemed to be guarding the library's entrance. When we tried to explain that we were visiting students from Simmons College, she replied bluntly, "You need to go over there." Note how she doesn't say where we are supposed to go. When we managed to figure out where 'over there' was, we walked into a room that was reminiscent of a DMV. One man sat in front two rows of empty desks. My friend stepped forward and tried for a second time to get some assistance. "Hello, I am a student from Simmons College and am working on a project. There is a book here that I would like to look at. I spoke with a library representative and they said I all I needed was a temporary day pass to look at the book..." she trailed off as the man looked up and frowned. "Where is your letter from your school?" he asked. My friend looked at me and then the man. "Letter? The woman on the phone didn't say anything about a letter." The man grabbed a piece of a paper and wrote out an email address for my friend: "You need a letter from your school's library explaining that they do not have the book you need hence why you need to look at our copy. Everyone who works here has been here for fifteen years and knows the policy. Whoever you spoke with clearly wasn't from this department."

My friend and I were stunned. This library was supposed to be one of the best in the world. Students and scholars alike visit this library on a daily basis. The Library of Congress, said one my roommates later,  wasn't this hard to gain access to. And yet, never before had either of us encountered such a horrible experience within a library. In school we learn that part of being a librarian was knowing how to have good customer service skills. Sure these people probably weren't librarians but still, this isn't how you treat people. No matter how famous your institution is, that doesn't excuse the act of treating two graduate students like they are trying to break in and steal the library's first edition Bible (more on that later).

In the end, we finally did manage to get inside. The actual librarians on the inside were, shockingly, much nicer than what we had come to anticipate. Within five minutes, my friend had her book and was making the scans that she needed. But of course, before we could leave this library -never to return by the way- we had to pass through good old Ms. Gatekeeper. "Open your bags" she ordered. And by open our bags, she meant open every zipper compartment that we had. "Wow," I said trying to be funny, "You guys treat this place like Fort Knox." "Well," she replied, "We do have a first edition Gutenberg Bible here." "I feel like if I actually tried to steal something like that, alarms or something would go off." Missing the humor in my voice, the woman answered back curtly: "Yes, they would."

While I understand that some libraries need to be more protective than others, especially when considering their library collection, that does not give them the right to treat people like the way my friend and I were treated. I am grateful that certain SLIS courses require us to go out in the field and observe different library and archival institutions. It is a good lesson in the fact that not every library or archive is perfect, and that sometimes, you are simply going to encounter people who are hard to work with. It is a sad truth, but one that we can rectify if we all make a conscious decision to treat others with respect. It's basic 'treat others like you like to be treated' logic.

The students within SLIS are the next generation of information professionals. Let's strive to create a future where there is one less grouchy librarian stereotype lying around.


LibraryThing, My New Love

There's a lot to love about libraries, and there is definitely a lot to love about LibraryThing.

Maybe some people knew about this fabulous program before SLIS, but I didn't.  When Candy Schwartz assigned a small LibraryThing project in 415 my first semester, my mind was basically blown.  Oh, the possibilities! This semester, I used an assignment in 488 to do what I really wanted with LibraryThing, creating a website that weaves book recommendations through my personal and professional background.

As part of the project, I cataloged over 400 children's, adult fiction and nonfiction books with basic tags that I plan to refine over time.  I'm only inputting books that I'd actually recommend to someone else -- believe me, there were many that didn't make the cut.  I went through our library history, my old journals, all our bookshelves, fifteen years of my book club booklists, and my older daughter's near-encyclopedic knowledge of everything she's ever read.  What a trip down memory lane.

Even better than the fun of cataloging the books is the fact that I've already used the system several times.  To add to a list of good read-aloud books at work, I just had to click on the corresponding tag.  A friend wanted a recommendation of books about spring to read to her son's class, and I could pull up all the garden-themed books in a few seconds.

LibraryThing, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Semester is Almost Over

As I've mentioned before, April is a crazy month for me. What I forgot about was the fact that registration and the end of the semester were also both approaching. Registration always brings challenges and stress along with it. This semester, I completely forgot my registration time. Twelve hours later, I remembered in a panic and hustled to our registration site. I managed to get into two classes easily, but one already had a waiting list of 8 people! I try to remind myself not to stress. I try to tell myself that even if I can't get into the class (which I think I will because the school tries to work with people) that it's alright. I can extend school by a semester and my life will still be alright. But I still spend a lot of time freaking out. I also have like 8 projects due in the next week and a half which I keep trying to prioritize in order of due date, but it's stressful.

I'm excited for summer and the chance to explore. I want to visit the aquarium. I want to go to the children's museum. I want to play mini golf. I want to find a library job. I'm not sure how life will work out, but I'll survive this semester. I will still enjoy the beautiful children's books and young adult books which pushed me to this profession. I'll still want to be where I'm at in life. So I'm dealing with the craziness of April with hope for May on the horizon. I hope you all will have wonderful summers and get to play and enjoy life.

All the Best -