Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Engaging Classes and Best Laid Plans

I'm delighted to report that my new system for homework worked incredibly well last week. I methodically chugged through all my readings, got started on some future assignments, took notes on everything I read, and tracked how much time I spent on what. It was so efficient that I had everything finished by Thursday! Want to know my grand totals for the week? (Of course you do.) I spent 17 hours and 45 minutes total, of which I spent 11 hours reading (and note-taking), 4.75 hours on assignments, and 2 hours on review. I know this is incredibly nerdy, but I've ALWAYS wanted to know how much time I actually spend on homework, and how close it is to the 20-hour/week ballpark (10 hours per week, per class). Also, I thought it might be helpful for any of you out there still considering library school to get a realistic idea of the time commitment.

My archival access & use class is down to only five people, but so far that hasn't hindered discussion. I find the professor's teaching style very engaging. It's basically three hours of discussion with some lecture scattered throughout. I came to class this week thinking I was so prepared with all my readings and notes, but I still had to think really hard about the questions Professor Cox asked. The way he leads the discussions challenges us to think critically and carefully about the things we've read and what we think we already know about archives. I come away from class with a lot more ideas, and even more questions.

In my afternoon class, user instruction, we all got surprised with an impromptu 5-minute class presentation - scary, but instructive. We're going to be presenting a lot in that class to practice being in front of people and not freaking out. The class itself is like a laboratory for our experiments in teaching and learning. It feels like we're on a journey together with the instructor, to discover and develop our own teaching identities and philosophies. It's a fun and engaging class, and the time goes quickly.

As for this week, what is it they say about best laid plans? Both my kids were off school on Wednesday, and it looks like my son will be home sick with me today. It will be a challenge to fit in all the homework time that I planned, but at least I started strong. I spent Tuesday morning on the campus of Sacred Heart University interviewing instruction librarians and observing a library instructional session for one of my assignments. Everyone was so nice and helpful - it's great to see how willing the professionals are to mentor new aspiring librarians.

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes | skills


A New Semester Begins!

My fall class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals) started last week.   As I've mentioned before, while this is an online class, it's a bit of a new adventure for me because there are a few "live sessions" incorporated in to the schedule.  These live sessions aren't in-person, they are GoToMeeting sessions where everyone is online at the same time and we can see and hear the professor.  Our first day of class had one of these live sessions and it was very exciting!  I've done videoconferencing for work and for group projects via Skype and Google Hangouts, but I've never done it for class before.  I did have some technical difficulties connecting to the meeting, but once I got them ironed out, I really enjoyed the component of the live session.  We had a segment where we were able to introduce ourselves and we could see and hear everyone, which is an element that I've missed from in-person classes.  While I really love interacting with my classmates on the discussion forums, the live session was really nice because I could see and hear everyone, both the students and the professor, and it was almost like being in a classroom.  Online classes have been convenient for my schedule so far during my time at SLIS, and while I plan on taking classes in person at the Boston campus in upcoming semesters, the discussion forums and live sessions have been a great way to participate and interact with my fellow classmates.  

I've also mentioned this previously, but I was very nervous going into this class because of how technology-focused the material is.  However, when we went around and did our introductions in the live session, and all the members of the class posted in the discussion forum, I realized that a lot of the people in the class are in the same boat as me with technology: lots of everyday usage and can adapt quickly, but not a lot of familiarity with coding and programming.  This put me at ease, and I think I am going to enjoy this class, and I know it will be good for me both personally and professionally. 

I hope that everyone is having a great start to their semester! 

Online | SLIS | Technology | classes


Fall Beckons!

My penultimate semester at Simmons has begun and the summer is officially over. I'm at this stage of my school journey in which things are beginning to feel very repetitive. Here I am: getting up before 6 am every Saturday, driving the same route to South Hadley, Mass., stopping at the same places for gas and a bite to eat, walking the same paths to familiar classrooms, seeing the same faces, eating the same lunches at the SlIS West office.... This is not to say that there's nothing unique about this semester, just that it's begun to feel very routine.

In many ways, though, this semester is unprecedented. For the first time, both of my kids will be at school for some portion of the day, giving me chunks of dedicated homework time in the mornings. The kids' school schedules force all of us to be up and at 'em fairly early so there will be more discipline and more routine. And I'm starting this semester with more planning, motivation, determination, and better personal organization than ever before. As my program has progressed it's become increasingly important for me to stay on top of my stress and anxiety and manage everything in my life so that the most important things do not get neglected.  

So how am I accomplishing this? First of all, I spent the weeks leading up to this semester organizing everything. My house and my own personal space is cleaner and neater right now than it's been since we moved in. I've attempted to do something similar in my mental space: relaxing, organizing, preparing. All of this has been aided and informed by an amazing book I read called The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin (a neuroscientist). The book explains how the brain receives, organizes, processes, and retrieves information and details various strategies for organizing your home, time, social life, and workplace to maximize your brain's ability to deal with today's information overload. I think it should be required reading for every librarian/aspiring librarian. The author included multiple references to information organization, records management, and devoted a whole section to information literacy.

I've devised a system for managing my time and my schoolwork that should help me stay on track, determine whether I'm spending too much or too little time on things, and recall what I've read all week so I can engage in discussions in class. My archives class has only 6 people in it and is very heavy on readings and discussion...which means none of us will be able to hide if we've slacked off that week! So I'm feeling quite optimistic about this semester and excited for the cooler weather which is clearly on the way. Bring it on Fall!!

Real World | SLIS | SLIS West | reading


Fall is Here!

Fall has arrived!  Well, technically fall doesn't start until September 22, but it certainly feels like fall.  The weather is getting slightly colder, the leaves are beginning to change, and the fall semester has just begun (my class literally just started last night).  I must say, I really enjoy how classes do not start until September here.  Even the elementary, middle, and high schools in Massachusetts didn't start until last week (at least that's when they started in my area).  My entire life, school has always started in early-to-mid August, no matter what state I have lived in.  I'm really enjoying waiting until fall to go back to school. 

As the seasons have started to change, I have been trying to partake in some fun fall activities.  Last weekend, I went to the Autumn Arts and Crafts Festival at the Historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA.   It was a great outdoor craft fair with a ton of vendors and exhibits, and I bought some fabulous items!  There seems to be a lot of festivals in my area this fall.  I noticed today that they were advertising a town-wide, weekend-long festival just one town over from where I live, and there's plenty of signs for other festivals nearby.  I've been finding out about the events near me by seeing advertisements and going "Oh that looks fun!" and then showing up but I have now found this page for fall events and activities all around Massachusetts.  If you live in Massachusetts, take a look at the list and maybe you'll find a fun fall event to go to!  I know I've found some that are now on my list! 

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the fall season!

Boston | Fun | New England


The End of Summer

So, I thought that my fall class started next week- I was wrong.  Guess who gets two more weeks of summer?!  That's right, I do!  The students in my class got an email from our professor a few days ago giving us details about the class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals), and it said that our start date is September 11, which means that I get more time before school starts!  Now that I have the syllabus and some more details about the class, I can see that this is going to be different than other online classes that I've had.  There are going to be a few "live sessions" where everyone is online and interacting with each other at the same time, which I'm really looking forward to!  While I've gotten to interact with my classmates during online classes before, it's been mostly through forums, and we reply to each other at our leisure.  With the live sessions (I assume) we will actually be able to see one another and participate like an in-person class.  My fall class is going to be an interesting new adventure, and I'll keep you updated throughout the semester.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do much as the summer has been winding down.  As I mentioned last time, I got surgery last week, and while I'm back at work this week, I've been trying to take it easy and heal.  However, because I have been trying to take it easy, I have been making a pretty good dent in my reading list and my Netflix/Hulu/Amazon queue.  Here's what I'm reading/watching:

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This comedy-drama series can be found on Amazon Prime and was created by the team that made Gilmore Girls.  It's won a ton of awards and is nominated for 14 Emmy Awards. 
  • Sick by Porochista Khakpour: This memoir is about the tremendous difficulty of chronic illness and the long emotional journey of getting and accepting a diagnosis.  
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I actually read this book last year, but before I got my surgery I was able to see the movie, and I wanted to reread the book.  The book is excellent, as is the movie (in theaters now). 
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: This was recommended to me after I finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It's a historical fiction novel, but it is based on true events. 
  • Brooklyn 99: I was devastated earlier this summer when it was announced that this series had been cancelled, but within about 24 hours it was picked up by NBC for a sixth season.  I've been re-watching the entire series on Hulu. 

I hope that you are enjoying your remaining days of summer break!

Fun | Relaxing | Summer | reading


The Last Week of Summer

And just like that, our last golden week of summer is over. My, how golden it was. The kids and I spent our last full week before school starts enjoying some gorgeous weather and having all kinds of fun and leisure time. I could not have asked for a better summer send-off. We did all the things: nature center, aquarium, IMAX, libraries, parks, and playdates. I have LOVED being able to spend all this quality time with my two kids, unhurried, unburdened, and unscheduled. With my first child about to embark on his public school journey and the second starting preschool, it feels like we're about to lose something that we can never get back.

For all my reluctance to leave behind these lazy summer days, I am actually quite excited for the fall and the new challenges and opportunities it will bring. Remember that exciting news I hinted about in my last post? Well...the exciting news has officially been rescinded. I had been accepted for a reference and instruction internship at a nearby university, but then the librarian in charge of the internship resigned last minute! It was a rather sudden and unforeseen change of events but I trust that it was for the best. Not having the internship simplifies my fall schedule a good deal and there's a decent chance I'll be able to do it next semester.

I'm really pumped for my classes up at SLIS West: User Instruction and Archives Access & Use. I've heard from many reliable sources now that user instruction (i.e. teaching info lit) is essential for working in an academic library and is one of the best classes for real-life job preparation. My other one is a required core class for the archives concentration and will help me further gauge whether I want to stick it out with this archives track or not. It may just depend on what classes are available in the spring. If I see any awesome technology courses being offered at SLIS West or online I may still jump the archives ship. For now, it's full steam ahead and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.

Summer | classes | skills


A Season's Change

I was listening to a podcast by one of my very favorite authors and speakers, Rob Bell, earlier this week. This gem of an episode was entitled "Everyone Is Your Teacher," and it turned out to be one of those well-timed bits of amazingness that was dropped right into my lap. The day was oddly gloomy, I was on my way to work when I would have much rather been curled up in my pj's while binge watching The Bold Type. Still, I had a half hour walk and decided to tune in and see if Rob had any words of wisdom and humor for me. (Spoiler alert: he did.) He shared a short vignette about the seasons that we experience in life, and how the various seasons we have teach us different things. He said that part of the power in celebrating any particular season is being honest with ourselves and letting it be what it was after it has run its course.

Now, what am I getting at here? A few things...fall is just over a month away, and for me personally, summer is ending much too soon. Classes start up again at the beginning of September, bringing with them all the hustle and bustle of a fresh semester. I'm moving out of my current apartment and into another in a couple of weeks--which reminds me, I have all sorts of packing and cleaning that I need to do. I started taking on some new responsibilities at my library job, and I'll be helping out with publicity and marketing for the foreseeable future. Hooray for outreach! As a side note- y'all, it has been way too much fun and I enjoy what I'm doing a whole lot. Who knew work could feel this much like play?! But the combined force of all these changes made me realize that I won't have the capacity to continue blogging here. Do I hear the sad Charlie Brown music playing there in the background? Just maybe?

This much is clear: I have a difficult time with seasons passing, even though they're a natural part of the world and our lives. A part of me wishes certain things could just go on forever and ever, amen. But it turns out we're not stuck in a perpetual state of day or night or a decades-long winter like the good citizens of Westeros. We're in a continual state of flux, of ebb and flow. I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to use this space to work on my writing and share my thoughts, and I wish all of you out there a happy rest of the summer! Maybe I'll even get to meet some of you if we overlap here at Simmons! J

Real World | SLIS


From Summer to Fall

It. Is. Over.  My summer class is done.  The class (LIS 415: Information Organization) was interesting, invigorating, and utterly exhausting.   I know I've said this before, but one of the reasons I really enjoyed the class was because even though it was an online class on an accelerated schedule, we had so many opportunities for discussion.   Additionally, the new concepts I learned will be useful to me throughout my career.  I learned so much about why and how we organize information.  The class challenged me to think in new ways, and I am walking away with a valuable set of new skills which I will use in future classes and in my profession.  However, I did struggle with the accelerated timeframe of the class.   What really helped me was setting aside designated hours of each day to work on schoolwork.  Admittedly, that didn't always help, because I underestimated the amount of work in the beginning (it's double the work of the normal semester because it's done in half the time), so there were a lot of late nights.  Even though the class could be stressful at times, I'm really glad I took this class during the summer.  

As my summer class is now over, I have about three weeks before the fall semester starts.  Unfortunately, it will not be all fun and games during the break.  Next week, I'm getting surgery.  Doesn't that sound like a fun summer activity?  I have this big list of everything I put off doing while I was in class, and I'm now trying to get everything done before my surgery date, so it will be smooth sailing and a nice easy recovery and transition into the fall semester. 

I am a bit nervous about my fall class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals).  Even though I am a millennial and am pretty technology-savvy, I know nothing about coding and programming.   When I started at Simmons, my plan was to take this particular class in person, so I could get as much help as possible.  However, I am taking this class online.  My work schedule for the fall semester is not flexible, and I know I'll be travelling again during the semester, so I must make my school schedule flexible, and the way to do that is to take an online class.  While I've heard nothing but positive things about this class, and I know this class will be good for me personally and professionally, it doesn't make me any less nervous.  I am always ready and willing to learn new skills though, and I go into each class with an open mind.  I'll be sure to tell you all about my journey throughout the fall semester!

Just around this time last year I was starting my application to Simmons, and after this fall, I'll be done with my core LIS classes.  I took LIS 407 (Information Sources and Services) this spring, I just finished LIS 415 (Information Organization), and I'll be completing LIS 488 (Technology for Information Professionals) in the fall.  I can't believe how quickly time has gone by! 

If you want to learn more about the courses offered at SLIS click here.

SLIS | Summer | classes | skills


Summer Class Wrap

Welp, my summer class (Records Management) is a wrap. What a whirlwind! What a race! What an adventure! In typical life fashion, just about everything went wrong with my carefully laid plans the last week of class.

Kids got sick (so no summer school ☹). Hubby extra busy at work. Cue mad scrambling.

I never intend for the end-of-semester time to be a hot mess, and I always try to be well prepared. But somehow it just seems to happen anyway. Did you know that I (or my kids) have gotten sick the last week of class EVERY semester I've been at Simmons? It's true. I'm keeping track.

Anyway, enough complaining. I have exactly one month now to pick up the pieces and get my affairs in order before fall semester starts. I have a lot going on this fall and some very exciting news to share............which I'm saving for my next blog post! Haha! I wanted to use this post to talk about my summer class and the online format in general.

So: Records Management. This was a fascinating class and the instructor was excellent. I took it because it counts for one of my archives electives and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in the archives track. You'll walk away with a pretty solid understanding of records management and how it works, and with more insight into the archives field and how the two are connected. I learned more about some other related areas within the information professions, such as knowledge management, project management, and information management. A great class to check out if any of this sounds interesting to you!

In terms of the format, I've made a bulleted list down below that you can skip right to if you're short on time. This was not my first fully online class at Simmons, but it was my first fully online summer class. I took Intro to Archives online last fall, and I've taken a couple of blended (in-person/online) courses. I really like how Simmons offers all these different formats - it's because of this flexibility that I can do the program at all. However, the online format is not my first choice. While it gets extra points for flexibility (I visited four different states while I was taking this class!) the thing you miss out on is the human interaction. Even as an introvert I will say that there is a lot of value in the experience of getting to know your classmates, making small talk about life and school, asking impromptu questions in class, discussing topics face-to-face, and engaging in group work. I miss the collaboration and camaraderie that happens in the classroom.

So I made a list of all the most significant characteristics (to me) of online summer classes, but I leave the designation of pro/con up to you, because it might be different depending on your personality, learning style, and situation. Happy reading!

Online Summer Classes: Pros/Cons (you choose)

  • Short: half the length of a spring/fall semester class
  • Intense pace: double the load of spring/fall class
  • Geographical freedom (with an internet connection)
  • Self-directed learning
  • LOTS of reading, LOTS of writing
  • Virtual human interaction as opposed to actual human interaction
  • In my experience, much larger class size
  • Less personal, less personalized

Online | SLIS | Summer | classes


House Hunting

This summer I decided to stay in Boston and look for a house to move into for the next couple of years. I can only compare this experience to my time I looked for homes and apartments in Austin, so let me tell you the number one thing I have noticed, broker fees. Boston is expensive enough already and to have a broker fee's, it really adds to the moving expense.  According to an article  published in April 2018, Boston ranks #7 in most expensive cities to live in. The article states the average rent is $2100. In Austin, the rent is expensive, but not quite as much, and there typically is not a broker fee included.  The property managers pay the brokers themselves.  It was quite a shock to see so many places that require a broker fee! However, there are search engines that allow you to choose houses that do not have broker fees.  You will need to be prepared to have patience and compromise and some of the requirements you may have for your new home.

If you are single and don't mind roommates, take advantage of Simmons Connect and find a couple buddies for a closer space near campus. If you are set in your ways, have a partner, or pets outside of town is your best bet (in my experience!). There are some gems out there.  If you are looking for roommates, you can allow yourself more time in searching as most people have several month's notice when a roommate is moving out.  If you are looking for a space of your own, be prepared the month before you move-in date to dedicate a significant portion of your time searching.  Most property management companies seem to wait until the month before to start finding tenants for the space.  I was told serval times I was looking too early. You can take advantage of this and search to see what kind of places are out there within your budget and what you feel you can or cannot compromise on to prepare yourself for the actual house hunt!

Good luck out there!

Boston


Not So Lazy Days of Summer

It is currently Week 6 of my online summer class.  Now in a usual semester, which is 14 weeks long, we would just be approaching the halfway point.  But, as this is a summer class that is only 8 weeks long, I only have 2 weeks remaining, and it is crunch time.  We have accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time in this class.  I've learned so much!  However, there is still a lot of work to be done and topics to be covered in the remaining weeks.  I have a group project to finish, numerous readings to complete, several assignments and exercises to do, and lots of discussion forums to participate in. 

One of the key takeaways from this experience is that summer classes require you to be at the very top of your game.  As it is the full amount of work for a semester class in half the time, there can be no slacking off whatsoever.  You have to manage your time very wisely.  Balancing school, work, and your personal life is difficult enough in a normal semester, but with a summer class it is a bit trickier due to the shortened time frame.   The accelerated schedule for my summer class does add some stress and anxiety to my life and I'm not going to lie, there have been some late nights.  This class has been a challenge for me, but I truly enjoy learning the new concepts, participating in discussions with my classmates, and seeing the knowledge applied in the real world.   Throughout the final push of this class, even though I am a bit worn out, I have really enjoyed is putting the new skills I've learned in this class to use.  In the classes I've taken at Simmons, everything I've learned has been useful and has helped me immensely in my career. 

These remaining weeks are going to be a lot of hard work, but a most rewarding hard work.  This program has allowed me to learn so many new things and develop a lot of new skills and I'm very grateful for it.  Wish me luck for the final push of the summer session! 

Summer | classes


Staying Busy and Finding Meaning

I've been wracking my brain this week trying to come up with a good metaphor to compare summer online courses with regular semester ones. The one I keep thinking about is running. Let's say the normal semester course is like running the mile. You know it's going to be four laps around the track and you know you can't sprint the entire time and so you pace yourself, trying to keep your speed steady and saving your energy for a little burst at the end. This online summer course is like running 800 meters. You can still try to pace yourself, but there's not as much distance in this race and so you mostly just run and hope your strength holds out. (I don't actually have any experience with these kinds of races so I apologize if the metaphor doesn't fit.)

There are just two weeks left in my class and today I went and signed my kids up for summer camp at their adorable little preschool. At the beginning of the summer my husband and I decided not to do summer camp so we could save some money, but I've reached the point where I'm willing to throw money at just about anyone who will take my kids for a few hours and show them a good time. Can you put a price on sanity? The thing is, grad school has been tough for our little family. Since I started at Simmons I've become the busiest person in the house and I know that my kids and my husband sometimes feel like they have to compete for my time. Most weeks I feel like I'm being pulled in many different directions by all these different forces demanding a piece of me: my kids, my husband, my house, my friends, my school responsibilities, my church responsibilities, my hobbies and passions, my own self-care needs. Sometimes it feels like a wave about to swallow me and other times like I'm juggling an impossible number of precious things.

Despite the challenges and the ever-present lack of rest for the weary, I know deep down inside that I'm happy. I feel more like myself than I ever have since the birth of my first child. And as my husband loves to remind me: "you like being busy." While I certainly don't enjoy the stress and anxiety and exhaustion, I do enjoy being engaged in acts of learning, progressing, exploring my talents, trying new things, and working toward a meaningful goal. And it would be a lot harder if I didn't love what I do. As I like to tell other moms: everyone needs a "thing."  Be it a hobby, a side-hustle, a guilty pleasure, a community group, political activism, a secret obsession, a social experiment, a new religion...find a thing that you love and make it your own. Life is only worth living if it means something.  

Real World | Summer | classes


Reading Deprivation

I'm flipping the script in today's post, meaning I plan to tell you about what I haven't been reading instead of what I have, or rather, why I am not reading at the moment. I'm participating in an experiment this week called "reading deprivation" as a part of this Artist's Way book I'm working through. If you think that sounds impossible and a bit insane, then I would have to agree with you. Do you know how difficult it is not to read something, or anything at all on a given day? It takes a real concentrated effort, and maybe a blindfold too. The tool is meant to "monitor the inflow and keep it to a minimum," according to author Julia Cameron, that way you're able to tune into your inner voice more clearly and hopefully be rewarded with more outflow. And while it's true that I've seen my writing increase, I've also gotten petty and annoyed about the whole idea. What about my work emails? My text messages? Those quotable images that I love so much on Pinterest and Instagram? And that book I have to finish for book club by next week? Where do I draw the line? I'm not sure, but at this point, I'm setting aside my novels and avoiding Internet articles and calling it good.

So what have I been doing in lieu of reading, you wonder? Let's see here...

  • On Monday I wandered through South End before joining my roommate to see Evan Greer and Kimya Dawson perform at Make Shift. They were incredible, by the way.
  • I have more time for yoga and long walks. Three cheers for being healthy!
  • If I'm honest, I've been watching more TV, which isn't the point of the exercise at all. Oops. It's just so easy, you know? I started Sharp Objects, which premiered on HBO last weekend. It's based on Gillian Flynn's novel of the same name, so I still seem to be getting a book vicariously through the screen.
  • I'm taking a day trip to Portsmouth, NH tomorrow. I thought it would be nice to go somewhere new, and I'm looking forward to checking out the scenery at the Urban Forestry Center and Great Island Common. I also hope to stop by their Athenaeum, and maybe pick up some tacos at Dos Amigos Burritos for dinner on my way back.

While reading deprivation is proving to be an interesting sort of challenge, and it's opened up my schedule for a more diverse set of activities, I have to say...I'm ready to have my books and articles and quotable images back again!

Fun | Relaxing | Summer


Summer Has Arrived

Oh my goodness a heatwave has hit Massachusetts!  If summer wasn't here before, it has definitely arrived now.  I must admit, I'm not really a fan of excessively hot and humid weather, and I'm glad that it seems to be cooling down just a bit.  

Because of the heat, I've been trying to stay indoors with my beloved air conditioning as much as possible.  Between work and my summer class, it really has not been difficult.  As I mentioned in my last post, my summer class is online, and we're fitting 14 weeks' worth of material into 8 weeks.  The class is keeping me very busy between the readings and assignments, but I'm really enjoying learning all the new concepts and interacting with my classmates.  We've been learning about information organization, metadata, and as of this week, encoding standards.  I will admit, learning all the new material in the shortened time frame has been a challenge, but it has been an enjoyable one. 

One of the best parts about this class is that there are so many opportunities for discussion.  I will fully admit that when I started at Simmons, I really hesitated at taking online classes because I thought that I would be missing out on the chance to connect with my fellow students, but the experience that I've had at Simmons has shown me that you can have it all.  However, I am planning on taking an in-person class at some point. 

Even though work and my summer class have kept me incredibly occupied, I've tried to manage my time so that I can have some time to relax and unwind.  I'm slowly but surely working my way through a couple of books.  I'm one of those people who reads several books at once, but right now I've limited it to two- The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.  I highly recommend both of them to anyone who is looking for a good read this summer! 

I hope everyone is having a great summer and is managing to stay cool!  Until next time!

Online | Summer | classes | reading


Bookshops

It is toasty outside guys! I took a rare day off last week to go visit a few bookshops in the Boston area and cool down out of the heat as my apartment does not have air conditioning. Who needs an excuse to visit a bookshop anyway? A quick Google search for used books leads me to Brattle Book Shop in downtown Boston. It is one of America's largest and oldest bookshops in America! Established in 1825 and in the same family since 1949. I was in for a surprise when I went because I was really looking for newish books that were on sale.  I didn't think I would come across beautiful antique books.  I kept thinking, wow, this would be an excellent place for aspiring writers to find a book about an obscure topic who want to research the old fashion way.

I have a new interest in human anatomy books, and their section here was small and very old.  Rubber bands held the leather covers to the books, the paper was brittle and old (not a place for aspiring med students to research). I found a couple yoga books in the Occult section too (not sure if this was by accident or on purpose).  They have so many books and genres it's worth it just to browse.  Upstairs on the third floor, they have their antique books, first editions and the like, and I believe you have to have an appointment to go up there.

Jackson_7-10.jpg

Commonwealth Books is also in the area, so I walked the few blocks to visit it. It is a smaller version of Brattle and includes prints in their collection. I found a few photographs of the human body and they were going for a pretty penny.  I saw a few newer books in here, but plenty of older books that one could spend hours going through. If you have free time in your day-to-day, I would highly recommend visiting these shops! Boston Common is close by, and you can spend some time in the park to make a day of it!

Until Next Time!

Books


Dog Days

Well I was right about my online class - it is all the work of a normal semester class in half the time. We had a research paper due at the end of our second week (last weekend)! That assignment was a bit of a wakeup call for me that 1) I really need to stay on top of the work for this class and 2) I need to prep early for research papers and take better notes. I've been on "vacation" still in Virginia this whole time but it hasn't felt like much of a vacation because every night I'm up doing homework! I don't mind too much though because I am really enjoying this class. I could have never guessed that records management would be so interesting to me. The discussion forums have been very lively and I do feel highly engaged in the course. Maybe it's the accelerated schedule that makes it more of an "immersive" experience.

 Despite the rigor of the class I was still able to drive to go visit my best friend in Tennessee this past weekend. We've been friends since middle school and only manage to see each other about every other year, so it was a visit we both really needed. While out to dinner with some friends I had to actively restrain myself from asking someone I'd just met how the records were managed at his job for the Tennessee Department of Health. Talk about a conversation starter, haha. My friend had just moved into a new house and didn't have the wi-fi set up yet, so keeping up with class was a bit of a challenge. Luckily last week was a "light" week to allow for the 4th of July holiday.

 We're right in the thick of summer and class and it's hot and humid all over the east coast. I'm actually grateful for my class keeping me busy while I'm sitting indoors in the A.C. - because otherwise I'd probably be wasting my time with phone games and Netflix. There's not much for me to do now except take the kids back to Connecticut and keep plugging away. I'm beginning to look forward to the August break and hopefully knocking a few more books off my summer reading list. Until later!

Summer | classes


A Glimpse of Summer

I had almost forgotten about the feeling of that sweet exhale summer break brings until now. I don't know if what I'm doing 100% qualifies as a "break" since I am working a lot and still managing to keep my schedule quite full, but it is nice to be doing all of those things without having to worry about homework and readings for a few months!

In terms of work, I'm still filling in as a senior substitute at the Somerville Public Library. I love it for...well, many reasons. 1) SPL is an awesome place and you should come visit us, okay? Okay. 2) We've got three branches, and I've been fortunate enough to work in various roles at each of them. Plus, I have amazing co-workers who have been so helpful and supportive. A little circulation here, some reference desk there, and my personal favorite--the children's room. I got to do an impromptu preschool story time a couple of weeks ago and it was only a little scary, but mostly a lot of fun and way cute! The parents and caregivers there were the real champs since they helped me out with all of the songs I didn't know. It was great. 3) Did I mention SPL is awesome?

I've also been picking up some catering gigs in between my shifts at the library, which has taken me to a lot of interesting places and introduced me to some pretty cool people. I never fully know what to expect from any given event, so it keeps me on my toes while helping me pay the bills.

And behind the scenes of work and sleep and getting together with friends, I've been taking time out of each day to foster my creativity. I committed to doing this 12-week course from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm coming to the end of week 2 now, and it's been challenging and frustrating, but yes, already rewarding. Fingers crossed that I can stick with it to the finale. Hope all of you are having lovely summers so far!

Boston | Fun | Real World | Summer | classes


Of Classes and Museum Passes

Oh my gosh the past few weeks have been so busy!  My class officially started last week and it's been a wild ride!  It's been all good so far.  There are a lot of opportunities for group discussion in this class (even more than my last class), so I don't feel like I'm missing the student interaction part of an in-person class at all!  Admittedly, it is all behind a screen and in a forum, but still.  The summer class is a bit intense though.  We're fitting 14 weeks' worth of material into an 8-week class, which is a bit daunting.  But so far everything has been great, and the material is really interesting! 

On a more fun-related note, I've finally gotten around to doing some more sightseeing!  I went into Boston to go to the Museum of Science with my family.  When my dad was a child, he had a book with a Van de Graaff generator in it, and he's wanted to see one in person for a long time, so that's what we did for Father's Day.  We also went to the Butterfly Garden and the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science.  It was really fun and I highly recommend going if you are in the Boston area!

 Because we went to the Museum of Science, we took advantage of one of the really cool things that the library systems in Massachusetts have to offer: museum passes!  All the other states I've lived in don't have these, but if you have a library card at say, the Boston Public Library, you can reserve free/discounted museum passes. Seriously, take advantage of the museum passes because there is a very good chance you can get in to a lot of the museums in Massachusetts for free, or at least at a steep discount.  I did not know about the museum passes when I first moved here, and I went to the New England Aquarium with my family in Boston and that adventure cost over $100 for admission alone when we could have gotten in for free (depending on which library's museum pass you use- some have free admission up to a certain amount of people per pass, some passes get you discounted admission).  Different libraries have different rules and different passes, so if you live in Massachusetts, be sure to check out the museum passes at your local library! 

If you want to learn more about the Museum of Science, you can do so here.

If you want to learn more about museum passes at the Boston Public Library, you can do so here.

Boston


Our Neighbors at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Hi guys! This week I took the opportunity, as a fairly new resident to the Boston area, to explore our neighbors at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  I have heard a lot about this museum and have been itching to get over.   First things first, Simmons students get in free! I was prepared to pay the much-discounted student price of $5, but the lovely girl at the desk said no fee with my student ID! I believe this is true for the Museum of Fine Arts which is nearby as well. 

It's a gorgeous building and was Gardner's home as well.  She traveled the world looking for fine art, collected it, and brought it back to Boston to display in her house.  She picked where each piece went so it is unique in that way and unlike any museum I have been to.  Her pieces are amazing.  I often found myself wondering how they shipped some of the pieces over to Boston.

Now for the juicy part.  This museum is home of many works of fine art, such as pieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt.  In the 90's, two thieves dressed up as police officers were let in by the security guard and stole 13 works of art worth around $500 million dollars! I believe this is the largest heist in recent history, and the artwork has yet to recovered.  You can read more about this with a quick google search, also there are a few books about the heist.  I watched a few documentaries about it and have included the links at the bottom.  It is fascinating.  The ISG website has a disclaimer about the heist along with the reward if you know anything about it.  A pretty hefty award too.  The empty frames are hanging in the room where the crime went down and its sort of eerie seeing the frames on display without their art work.

 Until next time!

A Dateline type of show covering the heist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTbhFNXFyJ0

Documentary trailer:

https://www.amc.com/video-extras/trailer-stolen-documentary

Security Camera footage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSw1BsJEBB4

BBC Documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oevMUJcVMeM

Fun | Students | Summer


Back in the Saddle!

Hoo-boy it's been a wild week! Summer has officially started. My online class has officially started. I spent two days at Hershey Park with my family, two nights at a remote cabin getaway with my husband, and have somewhat settled into the new summer routine at my folks' house in Virginia. Everyone is healthy and things are going really well. My online class is off to a great start with the usual virtual introductions and the first forum discussion. I didn't realize it before, but this summer class has only seven weeks and each week encompasses two "modules." So I guess I should expect it to be more intense than a typical semester-long class? This is my second online class and as with the first, it will be a lot of reading and writing. The way I see it, the extra reading makes up for the lack of classroom lecture time and the extra writing fills in for the lack of classroom discussion. There are pros and cons to online courses that I hope I'll be able to articulate for you over the next several weeks.

I'm excited as always to learn about something new to me, and this time it is records management. We've begun to engage with various case studies illustrating the many issues involved in managing records in today's modern business environment. From medical records to client files to sponsored research documentation, records management can encompass a wide variety of information types and situations. Just last week my husband was telling me about some things he was working on at his job and I realized how much records management figures into his daily workflow. It's like when you learn a new word and suddenly start seeing it everywhere. So I'm getting back into the swing of homework and assignments while enjoying a more relaxed summer schedule and it feels pretty good. Now check out this shot of our awesome cabin! 

Cabin_Ondricek.jpg

Online | Relaxing | Summer | classes