Student Snippets


One Year Down!

I have officially completed my first year at Simmons!  I started in Spring 2018, and I've just finished the Fall 2018 semester.  I've completed all three of my core LIS classes- LIS 407 (Information Sources and Services), LIS 415 (Information Organization), and LIS 488 (Technology for Information Professionals).  I've learned so much over the past year, and I've made such huge strides both personally and professionally.  While the past year has been challenging at times, it has also been extremely rewarding.  Here's a quick wrap up of some of the lessons that I've learned and things that I have accomplished over the past year:

  • I've learned so much about search strategies and techniques, instruction, finding and evaluating information, the way information is organized, circulation and cataloguing, ethics and professional standards across the industry, and so much more, and I've been able to directly apply nearly everything that I've learned so far in my professional life. 
  • I have learned that coding is an incredibly useful tool and it is not something to be feared.  However, learning how to code is something that takes a lot of time and effort (at least for me).
  • I have gained so many technology skills- not just coding!
  • I have successfully learned how to use the public transportation system in Boston (commuter rail and the T) and I have taught other people how to use it!
  • I've started exploring and learning more about my new home of Massachusetts (I'm still working on exploring more though- even though it's a small state there's so much to explore!)
  • I got a job in an academic library!!!
  • I've learned that time management is everything.
  • I've learned that it's okay if you don't know what you want and your plan changes.  If I don't continue with Archives and instead switch to the Design Your Own concentration- it'll be fine.  If I do continue with Archives- it'll be fine.  Nothing is set in stone- there's no need to worry. 
  • I've learned that there are librarians everywhere and that you should be prepared for a networking opportunity at a moment's notice- whether it be on a plane, at a wedding, at a family reunion, or in a restaurant (all of these have happened to me).  Every semester I've gotten an email from the Student Service Center at SLIS offering free business cards, and I've either ignored it or forgotten about it, and every semester I have regretted not getting the business cards because I keep running in to networking opportunities and getting asked for business cards.  I'm definitely getting them next semester.
  • I've learned the importance of getting involved.  Even though I've only taken online classes so far at Simmons, I've been able to get involved in my own way.  Some of the ways that I've gotten involved include writing these blog posts, going to some events on campus, joining organizations, volunteering, getting a job in the industry, and connecting with my peers in my classes as best that I can.  I feel much more connected to both the university, and to the industry itself when I get more involved with the program and by working in a library. 

These are just a few of the takeaways from my first year at SLIS (and from 2018 overall).  This year has been a lot of hard work, but it has paid off, and I'm excited to see what the future holds.

I hope that everyone has a great holiday season!

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes | skills

Resume Review & Planning for the Future - Ready to Upload

Whenever the end of the semester rolls around, I always start thinking about the future. I have a very day-to-day planning style throughout the semester. I plan my days out and try to focus in the moment so as not to overwhelm myself with how much I have going on. Luckily for me we have the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) on campus that sends out emails every week with all the events going on around campus! This is how I found out that Student Services was organizing resume reviews with Amy Ryan, a former president of the Boston Public Library and honorary advisor at SLIS.

I have to start off by saying I am a shy, sensitive soul (shocking for a library student, I know) and was genuinely terrified of having someone look over and critique my resume and cover letter. Especially someone as impressive as Amy! I was very worried about the regular things about one's resume, is what I have enough or not enough? Should I put my education above my work experience? Is an object statement necessary? Is it eye catching enough? Does it really have to be all on one page or is that just a myth forced upon us during undergraduate?

The meetings with Amy were set up in half hour sessions and students from all stages in the MS program were encouraged to sign up and I am so grateful I did! Even though I am only in my first semester in the program, I wanted to get as much feedback, advice, and networking opportunities as I can! I was also very nervous about my lack of actual library experience. My background has always been in museums and development work. I had volunteered in an archive previously but I was not sure how much weight that would hold on my resume.

Amy was very helpful in reassuring me that my resume and cover letter were overall pretty good, but just needed some tweaks and embellishments on wordings. She also gave advice on what to stress to future employers as a student. I brought a printed copy of both my resume and cover letter which Amy was able to write notes and advice on. This was so incredibly helpful to refer back to afterwards. On top of asking all my burning resume formatting questions (Amy agrees that resumes CAN be more than one page), I was able to ask her how best to network in this field.

Networking has always been the scariest thing to me about being an adult job seeker and now that I am in a field I really love I am somehow more nervous! She recommended reaching out first to someone you are comfortable with, such as your local library that you frequent or your professor who shares an interest in the field. She talked about how it is important to think of networking like build any other relationship. You want to not only be their associate but on some base level, their friend. She also mentioned the importance of checking in with the contacts you are trying to build frequently. I was always too shy or nervous to start building these type of professional relationships but her advice on just simply asking for permission and how most library folk are excited to meet with current students really helped put my mind at ease. So much so in fact that over winter break, I will be helping out at the library and media center at my old high school! My aunt is the media specialist there so who better to help me start gaining experience and honing my networking skills then family! Plus best of all I'll be back in sunny Florida working on my tan, getting some vitamin D, and most importantly not waiting for the bus in freezing New England temperatures!


Getting a Job | SLIS | Students

A Very Merry SLISmas

A little over a week ago, my roommate Chloe and I embarked upon a true 'grad students living in Boston' adventure when we went hunting for a Christmas tree! A douglas fir wasn't really an option when we lived together in dorms, and we are both originally from suburban areas, so Christmas tree hunting usually requires a car and a series of bungee cords! Where would we even begin? We floated ordering an Uber, renting a car, begging friends and even ordering a tree to be delivered, but settled on the old fashion way: hoofing it. Chloe, my favorite person on earth, was able to locate various places to pick up the tree, mapped how long it would take us to walk to each, and ensuring that they sold tree stands. We budgeted, made sure we had the cash necessary for the purchase, threw on our raincoats, and set off (in the rain, of course).  

When we arrived at the lot, we decided that something between Chloe's height (5'3") and my height (5'10") would be ideal. We didn't want to overwhelm our apartment, but my love of big trees got the best of me!  We ended up with a six and a half foot douglas fir, which clocked in at $35. Throw in a stand, and the cost of ultimate Christmas cheer is roughly $60...but I'd say it's really priceless!


My 'granny cart' - on loan from my actual Grammie - proved essential once again, as men working the Christmas tree stand in the parking lot secured the tree with twine and maneuvered it into the cart. Through some strategic tipping, lots of help from Chloe to not tip over, and lots of sweat, we were able to navigate the mile trek back to our apartment. A few people along the way even rolled down the windows of their cars to offer encouragement!


[[ Here is a BONUS picture of the Carlson family tree this year for comparison. When I go home to New Jersey in a few weeks, this 9 ½ foot monster will be waiting for me, along with my 6'5' 'little' brother!]]

After dragging the tree up a few flights of stairs, we took a well deserved break! I needed a shower to wash off all the sap and pine needles! Afterwards, we rearranged our dining room table to make room for the tree, deciding that the corner with the double window was the best place for the display! We let the tree fluff up over night, then we threw on the Netflix fireplace, jammed out to some holiday music, and got to decorating. My lovely mother sent along a package with white and rainbow tinsel, as well as a festive night light that projects Frosty the Snowman on the ceiling, a handful of ornaments, and a metric ton of hot chocolate. Luckily, I also had a string of multicolor and a string of purple lights leftover that I'd used to decorate my room in undergrad. We were set!


Here are pictures of Chloe putting on the first ornament vs. the final product! While my back was a little sore after hiking with the tree, my heart remains so very full. Cheers to the little details that make this holiday season so special!


Boston | Fun | SLIS

My view from the trenches

It's Thursday morning as I write this, with only 2 more days until The Last Day!! It's a mental game now, a test of endurance. Can you stay calm and resolved as the deadline marches closer, the nights get later, your freedom so close you can taste it?

I was reminded again about the importance of self-care. Self-care is such a trendy word these days that I cringe to even use it, but here we are. I thought I could get through the week denying myself those little niceties that make you feel like a fully-functioning human being, like showers, exercise, sleep, good meals and leisure time. Those things are all so time-consuming and I thought I'd be better served spending every last minute I could scrape together on my assignments. Well yesterday I could feel myself beginning to crash. My motivation slumped, my body began to protest, and my mind wavered. After scaring my husband with a bunch of desperate-sounding texts, I switched tactics. I did the dishes and the laundry, exercised, and later had a pampering soak in a hot bath. It was like a little mini-break and I felt like a whole new person afterwards. Don't neglect yourself, even (especially) during finals week!

Anyway, here's a glimpse of my cheery little work station. Note the Christmas tree, steaming mug of peppermint bark tea, and the pine scented candle. This is my set-up while the kids are at school and let me tell you, these few hours of solitude are precious. I've got to get back to work now, so good luck to all of us in the trenches! See you on the other side.


Relaxing | SLIS | Students | classes


As of last night, my final project is complete and turned in!  As I mentioned last week, the final project for my LIS-488 class (Technology for Information Professionals) is a personal website and portfolio, coded by hand using the skills that I developed over the course of this class.  There were some shaky moments during the process of doing this project, but I was able to either troubleshoot and solve everything, or compromise and change my original plan to work with what I had.  All in all, I think that my final product looks pretty similar to the original paper mock-up that I sketched out over Thanksgiving.  I'm really proud of this final project, although I should really stop looking at it, because I've noticed a few things that I would like to go back and change, but what's done is done and I need to walk away and not dwell on it. 

This semester has been a wild ride for me.  If you've been following my past posts, you know that I was a bit nervous about taking this class.  This semester has been a lot of hard work for me.  Some of the topics we learned about include how to use coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript; we learned about text editors such as Notepad++; we learned how to use image manipulation softwares; we learned about ethics and accessibility; we learned about networks, security, and privacy; and we learned about databases and XML.   Some areas of technology are easy for me to pick up and learn; however, coding is a skill that I definitely had to dedicate a lot of time and effort to.  However, with a lot of determination and perseverance, I've gained a lot of new skills that I've been able to use not only in this class, but also in my personal and professional life.  Every time I encountered a problem with my code, or an issue with the technology I was using, I felt a bit of pride and a sense of accomplishment if I was able to solve the issue, and more often than not, I was able to do it on my own because of the skills I learned in this class.  If not, the class forums were always there for us, and our professor was more than willing to help us.  While other classes that I've taken have come more naturally to me, I'm really glad I took LIS-488, and I'm going to try and take more technology classes in the future to build upon the skills I learned in this class. 

SLIS | Students | Technology | classes | skills

November don't go...

To my fellow blogger Sarah - yes, it is crunch time! We're in the home stretch, the final countdown. This week I find myself returning to the busyness refreshed after a lovely Thanksgiving break with all the trappings: food, friends, family, shopping, games, and strolls in the Virginia woods. I feel that as long as it is still November, I can keep breathing and pretend the end is farther off than it really is. I'm afraid that on Saturday, the first of December, I'll be sitting in my second-to-last classes of the semester and it will all suddenly become very real. I wish I could cling to November just a little longer, keeping my due dates at bay.

I feel nervous and excited and cautiously optimistic for the end of this semester. Nervous because I have a lot of work to do before then: one 15-page "publishable" research paper, one 10-12-page reflection paper, one instruction module/lesson plan and a 30-minute instructional presentation. Excited because I only have one more semester after this one! Cautiously optimistic because I feel pretty good about my final assignments so far. I've developed interesting topics for my archives research paper and my instruction session; topics that I am excited about and eager to develop. I feel healthy and energized right now so let's hope these good vibes last. I have a rather unfortunate track record for lots of things going wrong during the last week of the semester.

Registration is over and finalized and it was the most anti-climactic one of my entire time at Simmons. I got into everything that I wanted: Preservation at SLIS West in January and Metadata online. These will be the final two courses of my degree and I feel like they will tie everything up nicely. Although, I would not have minded if this semester's courses had been my last ones, because I honestly think they've been my favorites. After the dust of this semester has settled I think I'll write a post reviewing (and perhaps ranking?) all the classes I've had at Simmons. It will be tough, because there's been a lot of great ones. Until then, expect to find me glued to my laptop churning out papers!

Classes | SLIS | Students

It's Crunch Time

It's crunch time everyone!  My final project is due next week.  The class discussion doesn't end until December 10th, so I suppose that is the official end date, but the project is my main priority.  My final project for LIS 488 (Technology for Information Professionals) is a personal website and portfolio that I have developed and built myself and coded by hand.  I have a lot of the groundwork done- I have a paper mock up of what I want the pages to look like (no guarantees that it will actually look like this!), I have most of the HTML coding done, I'm working on the CSS, and I think it's starting to come together.  On one hand, I'm so, so impressed that I now have the skills to do this.  On the other hand, I'm panicking because I'm making a website by hand.  I've never had to code anything in my life before this class, and now I'm coding an entire website.  I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride every time I see that my code has worked, and is functioning as it should when I test it; however, I still feel very much like a beginner.  I'm going to save my final reflections on this class for once the class is actually over, but I feel really proud of what I have accomplished.  Who would have thought that I would be able to code an entire website by myself?  Admittedly, this class has been a lot of work, but it's really paid off.  I've gained a lot of new skills (not just coding!) and I think this class has really helped me grow as a person. 

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to give a quick update on my registration for next semester.  I have registered for *drumroll* LIS 451: Academic Libraries for Spring 2019!  All three of the classes that I was trying to choose between were still open when I was registering, so I decided to go with the one that would be the most useful for right now and for my future, as I'm currently working in an academic library, and I'm interested in working in an academic setting once I graduate. 

I hope that everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! 

Classes | SLIS

International Opportunities at Simmons SLIS

One of the great things about Simmons SLIS is how many events are hosted each week! We have a very active student body and there are more panels, workshops, field trips, socials, etc. than anyone could ever hope to go. While being a graduate student is synonymous with overbooking your time, I have made an effort to attend a few events, specifically anything that has to do with international librarianship. I have always loved to travel and learn as much as I can about different cultures. So any chance I get to combine this passion with my passion for libraries, I will seize it! In this past month, I went to two really amazing presentations from faculty about their work abroad.

The first was with Professor Lisa Hussey, who I currently have for 407, and Professor Nanette Veilleux on their Summer course in Rwanda. This program is only a year old but offers students interested in international librarianship, archives, and computer science an opportunity to gain hands on experience working with a handful of schools throughout Rwanda. Listening to both professors and past participants stories about working with the Rwandan students was really inspiring. It also helped that Professor Hussey is an amazing baker and brought goodies and Rwandan tea that was so delicious. I could see anyone interested in working in a school library really getting a lot out of this course as both professors stress how wonderful the students are, and how eager they are to engage with Simmons students.

The second event on international librarianship I attended was put on by the Student Chapter of the International Relations Round Table (SCIRRT) which is a student organization on campus that while inactive for a brief period is making a come back! The event consisted of a panel of faculty speaking about International Librarianship and Libraries in Iraq. Faculty members included, Caryn Anderson and Michele Cloonan (who is also my advisor in the Cultural Heritage Concentration). I honestly could have listened to both of them talk for hours about their experiences working with libraries and archives throughout the Middle East. Professor Anderson started the discussion with her work as an Information Resource Officer in Iraq. She explained she did a lot of work helping to develop libraries, providing resources with a focus on modernization. She had a funny story about how because of the difficulties of being in such a warm climate frequently without AC libraries resorted to storing laptops in the fridge to keep them from overheating and crashing! Next, Professor Cloonan talked about her experience working with the Zhean Archives helping to work with preservation of newspapers, historic records, Kurdish documentary and journalistic heritage. Both professors stressed the importance of flexibility, openness, self-reflections, and following up with people.

After having attended both these presentations I am fired up to start looking up international opportunities that would best fit my interests in the library science field!


Events | International | Librarians | People | Presentations | SLIS

The SLIS Buffet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shameless plug: check out her work here

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


Fun | SLIS | classes

Keep On Keeping On

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

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

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

SLIS West | Students

Nonstop Action!

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

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

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday next week! 

Classes | SLIS | Students

Wait...It's almost Thanksgiving?!

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

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

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

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


SLIS | classes

Hump Week

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

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

Librarians | SLIS | SLIS West | classes

Registration Part 2!

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

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

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

Librarians | Online | SLIS | Students | classes

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

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

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

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

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


Boston | New England | SLIS

Next Level Research Paper-ing

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

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

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

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

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

Classes | SLIS | Technology | classes


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

SLIS | classes

America's Test Kitchen Library Site Visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Libraries | SLIS | Students | classes

Soaking It In!

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

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

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

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

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

Classes | SLIS | Students

Halfway There!

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

Online | SLIS | Technology | classes | skills