Student Snippets


Vacation Library

My family is on vacation, somewhere we go every summer, and when we're here, we (of course) frequent the fabulous local public library.  My kids love the children's room -- in addition to a great collection and lots of cozy places to read, it has a corner with a bookcase of board games, another corner with a bin of dress up clothes, and innovative programming.  I love the friendly staff and collection that's just different enough from our library at home to be interesting.

I find it pretty hilarious to see how our borrowing changes while on vacation.   The other day, my  kids wanted a movie, and I said yes (at home, I definitely would have said no to Shrek the Halls in August).  Last summer, I ended up checking out practically an entire shelf of DIY books, somehow inspired by being away from home (my talents run more to knitting and sewing -- DIY never works out that well for me).   We also get many books from the "local interest" section, something we don't do at home (how many books are there about Somerville, anyway?). 

I actively fantasize about working here (indeed, I saw a job posting over the winter for this very library and was sorely tempted).  What would it be like to work somewhere with a small local population in the winter, and an enormous tourist population in the summer?  How does a library structure programming for those very different groups of people?  What would my husband do if we lived here?  Would the kids like the local school? 

But for now, we're just summer people, visiting the local library and going to the beach and putting off thoughts of fall.


Age and Maturity

It's my birthday on the 14th. I'm turning 25. It feels weird. It'll be my first birthday celebration without either my family or my best friend. I have friends to celebrate with. Awesome friends who I am so glad to have in my life. We're going to the Museum of Science and then finding food somewhere. That is my birthday plan. Growing up, I loved throwing birthday parties. Having a birthday in the summer meant that it was hit-or-miss for whether people would be in town to show up, but it also meant that I could throw my party basically any day. I would spend all summer planning my birthday party. When I was in my late teens, I worked at the Fair in my hometown. It happened to fall on my birthday every year. So every year I would work on my birthday. I started a tradition for myself to get a caramel apple on my birthday. I don't know where to get a caramel apple in Boston. It's weird to grow-up. I don't feel 25. I don't feel like an adult. I do adult things though, like trying to figure out how to move and getting a job and being half-way through grad school. I still love "kid stuff" too. I ate French Toast Crunch for breakfast. I can't remember the last book I read that didn't fall into the young adult or child category. I've been thinking about age and maturity a lot lately. Mostly because of my upcoming birthday, but also because I've been interning at a publishing company and seeing how publishers mark books with age categories. I see books labelled ages 5-7, and I worry about the 8 year olds who want to read it but feel like they can't or the 9 year old who is teased for reading at the lower level. I worry about the adults who force their child to read by age level or grade level. I worry about the stories we miss because we become so focused on abiding by these dictations. I might be turning 25. I might have weird adult worries. But I still feel like I did as a teenager. I still feel like I did as a 3rd grader. Emotions don't go away when you grow up. They change, but they're still there. What thoughts do you have about growing up and maturing (or not maturing)? Let me know in the comments.


All the Best -



Future Librarian?

Last week, my kids came to visit me at work.  I think all kids get a huge thrill out of seeing where their parents spend time when they're -- gasp -- not actually with the kids, but I really can't imagine many better workplaces to visit a parent than the children's department of a public library.

The girls had a great time.  My almost-7-year-old formed an immediate bond with one of our high school pages, and they had a lovely time reading Officer Buckle and Gloria together.  Both girls went to Story Time, and even though it happened to be Toddler Story Time, they enjoyed the songs, books and craft project.  They were happy, I was happy.  It was a good visit.

The best part of the visit, though, might be the fact that my 9-year-old organized the library's entire Erin Hunter collection.  She arranged the books by category (Warriors, Seekers, Survivors), then subsection (Dawn of the Clans, Omen of the Stars, etc.), and then book order.   For those of you who are not familiar with the Warrior Cats and other Erin Hunter books, this is no small feat.

Future librarian? I can only hope!  Maybe I can get her to help shelve sometime...


A Bit About My Summer Classes

As we head into the end of July, we at SLIS are entering the final week of the summer term. This is my second year taking summer classes, and they are a lot of work (classes are condensed), but worth it (six credits in six weeks). I definitely recommend them. This semester I took Collection Development (LIS 453) and Evaluation (LIS 403). Evaluation sounds vague, I know. It's mostly about how to evaluate and assess various aspects of your library to meet user needs and justify funding, along with the various research and data collection methods that exist. The classes complemented each other well, as Collection Development had a large part devoted to evaluation of a library's collection.

I'm working on final projects for both courses now. For Evaluation, I have to write a research proposal including literature review, and for Collection Development I have to write a collection development policy with demographic data, budget allocation information, deselection guidelines, a gift policy, and collection priorities. (Mine is about 35 pages total, single-spaced, but that includes many demographic charts, pie charts for the budget, a title page, etc.)

I really like that my final projects, like most SLIS final projects, are incredibly practical. They are the manifestation of all the theory we learn in the semester. When I'm a librarian, I might have to write the sort of documents I'm writing now, and at the very least I will need to know what make these policies, procedures, and papers robust.

I also really like my instructors. Dr. Mónica Colón-Aguirre teaches 403 (which used to be part of the core curriculum, so you know it's important), and Michael Leach teaches 453. This is my third class with Monica, and I always learn a lot because she brings even the driest subject matter to life with her storytelling, humorous PowerPoint presentations, and in-class activities. This was my first time taking a class with Michael though, and he was equally impressive. He is Head of Collection Development at Harvard's Cabot Library and very active in many professional groups, particularly ASIS&T (American Society for Information Science and Technology). He showed the class things he uses and needs to know at his job, like COUNTER reports, e-license agreements, and budgets, and it was immensely helpful to get this perspective. He also made me rethink my preference for print material as library resources become increasingly electronic, and he did so by posing questions, not by spouting off opinions or studies.

So now that I've told you about all of that, I should really get back to working on my projects and prepare the handout and talking points for the Adult Fiction Trends discussion that I'm leading Monday.


Happy Birthday Trebek: An Ode to Trivia

Wednesday, July 22nd was a very important day because it concerns a very important man... at least for me.  It is the day that Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy, turned 75 years old.  The first person I knew who was also named Alex, I grew up watching him host Jeopardy.  To this day, I love that show and become glued to the TV if I stumble upon it.  I have been tempted to buy cable solely so that I could watch Jeopardy every night at 7:30pm.  Alex Trebek and Jeopardy are most likely the reason for my love of knowledge and trivia, which itself is most likely the reason why I am pursuing library science.  A general knowledge of everything tends to come in handy in this line of work!

And doesn't Mr. Trebek look amazing for 75?

But to return to the subject at hand: trivia. Now, when I say I love trivia, I don't think you really understand.  I LOVE trivia.  It makes me so excited.  If I know I'm going to trivia that night, I look forward to it all day. I start bouncing on my bar stool.  Give me that little pad of paper and the nub of a golf pencil and I am ready to go.  I'm terrible at coming up with clever, punny names for my team, but man am I good at trivia. Best subjects: literature, history, Latin.

Sometimes I go through trivia withdrawal and start Googling random things because I haven't collected any seriously useless knowledge.  My friends roll their eyes after they ask what seems to be an unanswerable or rhetorical question and I respond, "Actually..." I never used to read non-fiction and now I'm picking up books like "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World," eager to discover new random information that my friends will beg me to stop reciting to them.  

I have an insatiable need to know how everything is made, what it is made out of, how it was made before, who made it, who thought about it, and what thoughts lead to that thought...  I want to know dates, names, and places and the little quirky stories about each date, name, and place... I want to know why "ghost" is spelled with an "h" (Flemish printers) and what pigeons did before humans built cities (the jury's still out on that one).  I love meeting people in strange or archaic or completely foreign careers and jobs because I want to know all about what they do and how they do it. I will go on any walking tour every conceived by a human mind.

Thankfully, Boston is the perfect place to be a trivia nerd.  According to a 2012 article, Stump Trivia hosts 150 team trivia competitions every week in this city.  It seems like any and every bar in Boston, Cambridge, or the area's surrounding towns probably has a trivia night of some kind.  Personally, I frequent the Joshua Tree on Davis Square every Wednesday night at 8PM sharp.  So if you're in the Boston area and you don't already have a trivia bar night of choice yourself, use this map to find a good place on the night of your choice.  As if cold beer on a hot summer night couldn't get any better.

Thank you, Alex Trebek! And Happy Birthday!


Summer Reading

It's hard to believe that just a few months ago, the city of Boston was still blanketed in snow, my apartment was a frozen tundra, and I was elbows deep in school work. Even though school ended for me back in early May, it still feels like just yesterday that I would spend a solid twelve hours a day on the Simmons campus working on final papers and projects. Fortunately for me, days like that are now simply just fond memories and hilarious anecdotes. And with the 2014/2015 academic year now a thing of the recent past, I've finally had the opportunity to do something that I only really get to do during the summer months: leisure read!!!!!!!!

I don't joke around when I tell people that I am a blbliophile. I REALLY love books. However, not even my love of the written word is enough to find time to read a book for fun while also working on all the reading and other academic responsibilities that require my attention during the school year. While I certainly do check out books with the hope of perhaps reading them during some downtime, I never really manage to find any of that rare anomaly. This is why I've taken to creating a summer reading list. Remember those things? It's a tradition that I started during my senior year of college and it is a pretty easy one to keep up with although I assure you all that it isn't as exciting as it really sounds. Rather than being pages and pages of book titles, its usually just a handful of titles that I am 100% determined to read the moment I have a slew of free time. For example, Eric Larson's Dead Wake was on that list. I can happily report that I finished it this past Monday. Next on my list is Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children a book that first came to my attention during a course I took back in the fall. 

While my book list contains titles that I am determined to read, that doesn't mean that I am bound to read only books on that list. As I write this blog post from my parent's home in NY, I have a stack of about five or so books on the floor that I checked out from my local library earlier this week. None of which, might I add, are on my list. Will I get to them all? Probably not but that doesn't mean I won't try. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes and I am thrilled that I finally have an opportunity to take part in leisure reading again.

Considering the statements above, I guess this blog post has morphed into something like a PSA on the joys of reading. Guess I should it with some positive encouragement...



Summer Laziness

How is it already halfway through July? I thought summer was going to be less busy than the school year, but between my internship and the classes I was taking, I feel like it's been really busy. Maybe it's also the fact that it's summer. Summer, to me, means lounging. It means reading. It means going to movies and hanging out in places with AC on the hot-hot days.

I went to a concert last week which was fun. I want to go to a baseball game.

Summer means a lot of things, but maybe being productive isn't necessarily one of them. I've been trying to work on my novel this month (for Camp Nanowrimo), but it's hard work when it's sunny out and it's hot in my apartment. It's easier to read things other people have written. It's easier to see one of the so-called blockbusters in a cool theater.

The best part about being a future librarian? Even the things I use to be un-productive are weirdly productive. It's important for me to know the books in the library. I need to read the books in order to help people find them. Libraries use movies too.

That's one of the things I love about being a librarian. It's one of the reasons I know this is where I should be. When the things I want to do in my down-time are still relevant to what I want to do when I'm actually working, I think that's a good sign.

All the Best --



One School, One Book?

 I recently finished The Martian by Andy Weir for "Somerville Reads"/One City One Book, and it was fabulous. 

Actually, I'll admit that in the beginning, I thought it was just OK.  However, right about the time I thought "I don't think I can read 300 pages of this,"  the perspective of the story changed, a whole bunch of new characters were introduced, and it really took off.  Excellent, excellent book.  Seriously -- more than one night I've fallen asleep imagining that the characters were real people and wondering how the United States would respond if the situation in the book really happened.

(Side note: I'll get to continue my fantasy with the characters, since the movie version of the book is coming out soon -- starring Matt Damon!) 

Anyway, back to the point.  My family has really enjoyed One City One Book here in Somerville.   A few years ago, my husband won a Vietnam War-era trivia contest based on when we read The Things They Carried.  Last year, we read Dark Tide, and our local librarian also had a kids' chapter book and a picture book story of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, which was a lot of fun (except that we had to convince the kids they would not die in a flood of molasses).  Each year, the library puts together a bunch of neat events, and we've spent time talking books with our neighbors, which is always a good thing. 

All this got me thinking that it would be a lot of fun if SLIS suggested a "one school, one book" reading each summer.   It would connect students across programs and semesters, give us all something to talk about.   After first semester, it seems that students go their separate ways, and this type of program could pull people back together and remind us that different LIS fields have something in common -- the pursuit of shared knowledge.

Anyone else interested? 


Outside the Box

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

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

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

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

What inspires and encourages the hesitant readers in your life?


Happy 150th Birthday, Alice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


View of the Longfellow House from the garden


A New View

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

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

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

All the Best -



The Funny and the Serious

Happy Summer! 

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

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

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



Summer Fun: Musical Mondays

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

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


Summertime Panic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Summertime Gladness

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

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

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

 IMG_1072.JPGVoila!  Monster Edible Cookie Dough Dip

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


Pen Pal Experience

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

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

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

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

All the best,



Well, that was fast.

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

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

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

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

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


Ready Set Rhubarb

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

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


Two Jobs and Three Clasps

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

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

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

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