Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

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.

Boston


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.

Archives


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

Books


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!

Classes


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. But...it 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.

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

Boston


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.

Libraries


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.

Books


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 -

Hayley

Classes


Website Launch and Other Odds and Ends

 Last week at my cataloging internship at the American Archive for Public Broadcasting (AAPB) at WGBH Boston, our website launched and went live. This has been a long time coming and many, many people worked very hard to make this happen, so I wanted to take a minute and share it with you. Understandably, we had a party at lunch. I basically only ate cake and powered through the afternoon on a sugar high from the excellent buttercream frosting. Here's a link to the AAPB, so you can see the results and learn more about the project I'm working on: http://americanarchive.org/.

This week was busy, but I managed to break my routine a few times. First on Tuesday, I went to happy hour at a near by bar called the Squealing Pig. The event was sponsored by the SLIS Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists (SCoSSA), and there was all sorts of good food and good company. It was a nice mid-week break. Later in the week, I had an interview for an audiovisual digitization internship at a local cultural heritage institution. It's two days a week over the summer, and I hope I get it, but I won't know for a little while. Fingers crossed! The other three days of the week, I would continue to work at Snell Library at Northeastern University. Plus, I'm taking a full course load, so I'm definitely not worried about being bored. Actually, I'm really excited and grateful that I'm finally at a point where I could potentially have full-time LIS employment (even if it is two part-time jobs).

Internships | Students


Library as Remembrance

Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day began Wednesday night and goes through tonight. I was struck by the timing of one of my class assignments, and it made me consider the many ways in which libraries are the place for cultural heritage and remembrance.

For one of my classes, I am required to design a text set around Lois Lowry's Newbery award winning novel, Number the Stars. The novel follows a young girl and her Jewish friend at the beginning of the Holocaust. I focused on the ideas of risking one's life to save another person's and the many ways in which people act courageous.

I found a wonderful amount of books, but at my library, they were tucked back in the stacks. There were a small amount pulled in the teen section, but the children books were focused on spring titles. I wonder if children librarians felt that the subject matter was too dark or depressing for young kids. As someone who wants to work with kids and teens, I was surprised by this choice. I think it's important to remember the past.

I'll be spending the day remembering.

Libraries


LIS Career Fair

Yesterday afternoon, a project I started about four months ago came to an end. Since January, I have been working closely with the Career Education Center and the School of Library and Information Science to put together a career fair for the SLIS student population. While the process was long and certainly not without its surprise twists, overall, I am very grateful that I was tasked with being this year's LIS Career Fair Coordinator. 
For those of you who didn't get a chance to read an article published at the end of March where I answered questions about the career fair and the preparation process, I won't bore you with the details. You can find the link to the article here. I will say that one of the most important parts of being the LIS Career Fair Coordinator was ensuring that I had invited exhibitors that represented the various fields within the world of Library and Information Science. Fortunately for Simmons, Boston and the greater Boston area is rife with all sorts of information institutions. Once the invitations were sent, the next big task was trying to figure out how I was going to manage to squeeze at least eighteen exhibitors into the Kotzen Room in Lafavour Hall. While in the past, the LIS Career Fair has been held in the Linda K. Pareksy Conference Center, due to a large group needing the space, the event was moved. Although things were a bit tight, the situation managed to work. I think for what we had to work with, things really turned out well.
For the event itself, everything went perfectly. By 11am, exhibitors were already arriving and getting settled, my volunteers ready to offer assistance if needed. At 12pm, I had a line of LIS students stretching down the hallway! Since this event is all about the students, I was really excited to see so many people waiting to get inside. For the following two hours, I watched SLIS students interact with all of the exhibitors, asking questions, trading business cards, and offering resumes. I took advantage of a lull in the crowd and wandered through the room myself, thanking everyone who attended. And at 2pm, it was over. Months of planning and preparing had paid off; SLIS and the CEC had done it again! 
Thank you everyone who had a hand in putting this event together. I couldn't have done it without your assistance and support.

Jobs


Girls Wanna be with the Girls

We have two weeks left in the spring semester. Two weeks! But is that going to keep my friends and me from going out when we have course work and final projects looming over us? Absolutely not!

I'll keep this brief, because now that I've spent all of today procrastinating my work, I should probably start doing it. (Well, I probably should have started doing it at the beginning of the term, as recommended, but it's too late now.)

Here was our day in pictures:

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Brunch at Scollay Square. Evidence of cocktails omitted.

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Me and fellow SLIS student Amanda Baker, Massachusetts State House in the background.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Quiñon, all rights reserved, 2015.

Screenshot952015-04-12-20-38-32.jpgSLIS student Christina Benedictus "shooting the duck" on Boston Common. 
Photo courtesy of Meaghan Kinton, all rights reserved, 2015
#shoottheduckrevolution

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And then we went to the movies and saw The Longest Ride, but really we just went to look at Scott Eastwood.
He's a good actor, okay? Meme by Sara Davis.

 



Relaxing


My Vote is Split

I am a student at SLIS.  I have two young children.  They take a lot of time and attention.  I am their primary caregiver. 

My first two semesters at SLIS, I intentionally scheduled classes and schoolwork in such a way that it barely impacted my kids.  Everything was done while they were at (their) school.  Even my library shifts are primarily during their school hours, and a grandparent typically picks them up when I work later.  Things are much easier for me when the girls' schedule isn't disrupted.

Not so much from now on.  I'm pretty much done with required courses, which are offered at a variety of days and times each semester.  From now on, I'll be taking classes that are only offered once a semester, or even once every other semester (or even once every two years, but I don't even want to think about that).  This means that I have very little choice as to when I go to school, and my kids' schedule will now depend on my schedule, instead of the other way around.

So when the Fall 2015 schedule came out, I had some choices to make.

Option #1: take back to back classes Monday afternoon and evening, and find someone to pick the girls up from school, bring one to and from gymnastics, feed them dinner, and put them to bed (Andrew often works Monday nights).

Option #2: take back to back classes on Thursday afternoon and evening, and find someone to pick the girls up from school and hang out with them/feed them dinner until Andrew gets home from work (around 7pm).

Option #3: take a Thursday afternoon class and one online class, which means I only have to find someone to pick them up and watch them until 4:30 (many more options when the time is only an hour and half -- a friend, a babysitter, a grandmother, aftercare at school).

Andrew voted for Option #3 (while saying he would support whatever I wanted to do -- but acknowledging that Option #3 would be better for the family), and the girls would certainly vote for #3 if they had a vote.  I am torn.  Option #1 is pretty much out, because there's just too much to do around here on Mondays to leave it to a babysitter. Option #2 sounds good, and #3 is good too, but I'd really rather take an in-person class than an online class.  So my vote is split between #2 and #3.

But whose vote is most important?  Shouldn't it be my choice to take the classes I want to take, the way I want to take them?  Actually, no.  Part of going back to school in my 40s, starting a second career, is knowing that my family actually does come first for me.  It's OK to have their concerns in mind when I'm figuring out my class schedule.  And I really, really wish that the classes I wanted to take were offered at 9am -- but they're not.   So we'll all deal with it.

Are there other parent/students out there struggling with scheduling and family?  I'd love to hear from you!

Classes


The Particularities of Writing for People

As I mentioned last week, April seems to be the month of literally everything being due.

My biggest struggle--like every semester--is trying to learn to write for particular professors. I have my own writing style. I use it when I blog. I use it when I do my NaNoWriMo months. I use it in emails and Facebooks posts. I write the same way pretty much everywhere. But when I have to write for class, I try to spruce it up. Most people realize that you speak in different "registers" depending on who you're speaking with: friends, family, professors, clergy, strangers. This also tends to happen with writing. When I write for school, I try to focus on certain facets of writing which I pretty much ignore otherwise. These facets are generally concepts I've been taught in school: don't use "I" in academic papers, don't end sentences with prepositions, make sure you have a thesis, avoid passive voice, and other "standard English" rules.

However, one thing I always seem to forget is the subjectiveness of writing and the ultimate determination of the professor. Since I have my undergraduate degree in English Teaching you would think I'd remember this from my own days of grading essays. I don't. I also read a lot of young adult books. Young adult books have the benefit of not needing to be pretentious. They can drop literary writing styles without doing away with excellent, fluid writing. Sure, there are also books which are simply not well-written, but there are so many books which just use a different style than adults are used to. I think I tend to adopt more of a YA style of writing than an "adult" style.

Professors get to judge whether something is well-written or not. They can make assumptions on how much time and effort a student put into a piece based on their subjective decision about the quality of the work. This has created a mindset of "writing for a professor". As I mentioned last week, I have 24 papers due in one class. I really need to know how to write for this specific professor. But I don't. She's given me some feedback which is really valuable. However, overall I still don't feel like I know what she's looking for.

So here's the revolutionary idea I'm going to use to write my essays. I'm trying to write what the papers deserve. That's really what professors want, right? They want to know that the assignment was undertaken with full dedication and seriousness. They want us to apply the concepts we've learned to show that we have, in fact, learned the concepts. So instead of focusing on my professor, I'm focusing on the work itself. Ultimately, it's the best I can do. Wish me luck.

All the Best - Hayley

YA Literature


At the Dance Archives

For a few hours every Thursday I have started to go to the archives of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre (JMBT), which has its facilities in the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, a beautiful field stone building in the American Gothic Revival style just off of Harvard Square. There, two other SLIS students and I are taking an inventory before processing the collections, as part of a grant-funded project to process the archives of many of Cambridge's dance companies.

Two weeks ago, my first time seeing the JMBT archives, I knew our goal was ambitious. The collections comprise everything from institutional records, to costumes and props, to old promotional material and performance recordings. They are crammed into four large rooms in different parts of the church, much like I imagine industrial-sized, hastily packed storage lockers to be (if such things exist).

Battling through the dust and teetering piles of boxes, we have to move records around Tetris style to wind our way from item to item before noting it in our spreadsheet.

Admittedly, this style of inventory is challenging and not always fun, but it's getting easier as we continue to work. At the same time, it's very exciting to be involved with this kind of project. There isn't a lot of money for dance heritage, so dance archives are in a grey area where standards are still evolving. Also, companies in Boston and Cambridge have largely been overlooked and overshadowed by those in larger cities. Given these challenges, it's a great feeling to learn alongside more experienced archivists and to be able to contribute to the profession while best practice guidelines are still elastic and being developed.

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Above: A corner in the "Nutcracker Room" of the JMBT Archives. 
Photo by Samantha Quiñon, 2015, all rights reserved.

Archives


Books: 2015, 1st Quarter

As I've written before, I keep a log of all the books I read.  I don't really do anything with the list, though.  Occasionally I'll have trouble remembering an author or title and it comes in handy, but it's more just something I do for no particular reason.

At the beginning of this year, I read Jessamyn West's blog post about the way she tracks her reading, and decided to give it a try.  A cursory look back at 2014 made me think that my reading was pretty evenly distributed between male/female authors, fiction/nonfiction, and authors of color (the categories she tracks).  So, for the first three months of 2015, I tracked all that information, sure I would come out with a diverse, inclusive list.

I was kind of wrong, and kind of surprised about that.

Here's what I read in January, February and March 2015:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Euphoria by Lily King

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Active Bodies by Martha H. Verbrugge

Will's New World by Arthur C. Hodges

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Snowflake Bentley by Gloria May Stoddard

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

The End of Eve by Ariel Gore

My list is pretty evenly split between fiction and nonfiction (7/9), but the authors are almost entirely female (14/2) and white (13/3) -- I thought there would be more male authors and authors of color.  However, I don't want to get hung up on those particular categories -- this list includes books by authors who are young, old, LGBTQ, famous and obscure (including a self-published book by a friend of my father).  There are a few current bestsellers and some that were published many years ago.   In the last three months, I read novels, memoirs, academic nonfiction, YA and a very helpful parenting book.  So, even though the list skewed white female, I feel like my reading is pretty varied and includes different perspectives, which is important to me.

We'll see what the rest of 2015 holds.

Books


The Insanity of April

As always, the final full month of a semester is filled with the insanity of every class wanting to fit in the rest of the assignments before class is officially over. I have papers upon papers (seriously, I have 24 papers due in one class this month--short papers, but still 24 of them) and a few rogue assignments as well as discussion board posts.

So what do I decide to do?

Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp is the equivalent of regular National Novel Writing Month, however, it occurs twice (April and July), and people are free to set their own word count goal. Writers can also work on a variety of works, a novel isn't the only option.

I've also been enjoying the presence of two friends who have moved in with me. Hence, my life has become unexpectedly busy.

I've been enjoying walking with the warm weather. I also started listening to podcasts! I had downloaded several podcasts to listen to during the 43 hour drive from Montana, but I didn't end up listening to very many. Now I've become obsessed with Stuff You Missed in History Class. It allows me to listen to something without totally blocking out the noise of traffic and people. I like to be able to hear if someone tries to get my attention or wants to run me over.

Do you listen to podcasts? Leave me a link to the best in the comments! 

Happy April!!

All the Best - Hayley

Classes


Awful Library Books at the BPL

Rogue librarianship. That's what I discovered this past week and it was glorious.

I recently had the good fortune to meet a librarian who is subject to scandal in the funniest way possible.  While I won't share the librarian's name or identity, I did gain permission to tell you all about my new acquaintance's mischievous antics.

Some of you might be familiar with the blog "Awful Library Books." In case you aren't, the blog showcases found library materials that are out-of-date, offensive, or just plain weird, making it a great site for a daily giggle.  Some recent featured titles include "The Breakthrough Fish Taxidermy Manual" and the curious "The Hospital Doctors, Nurses, and Mystery Workers."  The situation that I share with you began as preparation for this site: as a frequent submitter, the rogue used the Boston Public Library's tagging feature available in their catalog to keep track of strange titles worthy of future "Awful Library Books."  Anonymously, the librarian added the tag "awful library book" to items that they wanted to scan and submit to the site later on.  The tag did not go unnoticed, however.  My acquaintance was emailed (through the BPL catalog) by several librarians at the Boston Public Library who were none too happy about this label, especially as they initially had no idea that the tagger in question was a fellow librarian. 

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Then, a reporter at Boston.com picked up the story and wrote an article about both the "Awful Library Books" blog and catalog tag, explaining the practice of weeding books to the general public.  The BPL librarian interviewed sounds a lot more understanding and light-humored than he allegedly was when he contacted my new acquaintance.  I definitely recommend giving the article a quick read, if only to discover more very strange titles that the Boston Public Library still has in circulation "for research purposes."

While the whole situation is rather outrageous with its anonymous vigilante, angry librarians, and media interest, it definitely brings up real questions about the weeding practices within public libraries.  Specifically with the Boston Public Library, which maintains a massive off-site storage building that supposedly houses these weed-worthy titles and whose main Copley Square building is currently undergoing a massive renovation, it brings up a lot of questions regarding the institution's priorities.  Where do we draw the line between archival significance and materials that are out-of-date, ridiculous, and simply taking up valuable space?  Are titles like "Why Cats Paint" really that important for research purposes? 

Let me know what you think, or at the very least enjoy the cringe-worthy titles in the various links I've shared.

Libraries