Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Winter in Boston:

Winter in Boston:

The Autumnal colors left, and the chill air changed, carrying the scent of frosty leaves, and a crispness that makes it hard to stay outside. Here the wind sweeps in, and that combined with the wet cold makes the feeling of cold settle in your bones whenever you go outside. Everyone walks around in a bundle of coats, scarf, gloves--and yet, they are still very stylish. Fashion,it seems, still applies even when one must layer constantly. 


02-13photo1.jpgI also found the winter weather to be very mercurial, shifting constantly. One day it is rainy and cold, another day sunny and chilly, then rainy and warm, or perhaps snowy. The snow here comes in bursts and then doesn't stay long, it turns to ice, or is washed away in the rain. I keep finding new things to marvel at as far as the weather is concerned.

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Boston | New England | Weather


Librarianship is Lifelong Learning

I've always thought that a good librarian is essentially a jack-of-all-trades. It's one of the things that drew me to this field. I couldn't settle on one particular subject or discipline, so my reasoning was that I'd learn a little bit about all of them and become a librarian - an information specialist. I want to be an academic professional that dabbles in many subjects, while helping others to be successful in whatever endeavor they've chosen.

The great thing about librarianship is that many of the skills we are learning have strong tie-ins to so many other fields. Tell me which academic discipline does not require finding and using quality information resources. Let's talk about how many careers involve customer service, marketing, and outreach. Can you think of many occupations these days for which an understanding of IT terminology is not extremely valuable?

At the root of it all is that I just love learning. I love researching and finding information. So far I have found the field of librarianship to be vast and diverse, and to require a good deal of this curiosity. It is a very good place for people who love to learn.

I was listening to a podcast (Simplify) on the way home from class which included an interview with David Allen, productivity guru and author of Getting Things Done. He said "these days, if you know what you're doing it's a great time to be alive. If you don't, you're toast." Allen said this in reference to the great wealth of opportunities available and the speed at which life moves and changes. I honestly feel like my education at Simmons in the field of librarianship is giving me the skills and the knowledge to "know what I'm doing" in this fast-moving, information- and data-driven world.

Librarians


Bookish Thoughts:

This semester has introduced me to many books, here are some of the books I have enjoyed or found interesting so far:

 Books that taught me things I didn't know before

Danza: Amalia Hernandez and the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico by Duncan Tonatiuh

The Noisy Paint box: The Colors and sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock

Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerta Taro and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson

 Books that provoked an emotional response:

Unleaving by Jill Paton Walsh

Push by Sapphire

Shizuko's Daughter by Kyoko Mori

House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

 Old favorites that I get to see in a new light:

Marcello in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Books | Children's Literature | SLIS | classes


Staying Sane (and Productive) in the New England Winter

This is the New England winter in a nutshell, courtesy of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day:

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We're approaching that part of the season when it really does feel like winter is all you will ever know. The New England winter is soooo long. You can expect everyone to start talking about and anticipating spring around mid-March, but the spring-like weather won't actually show up until May. It is not uncommon to have snow in April. So if you're thinking of moving here from a warmer location: you've been warned.

That being said, there are a lot of healthy ways to cope with the winter and you certainly do not have to love the cold to love New England. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that I have found effective for chasing away those winter blues:

1. Embrace the beauty and necessity of winter.

Every year I have to prepare myself mentally for the winter ahead. Accept the fact that it's going to be very long and very cold. Now look for the beauty in the season. Winter can be very restful and peaceful. Things slow down. Take a cue from nature to slow down yourself and observe how the light and the landscape changes in winter.

2. Take in lots of hot beverages and warming soups.

I drink a lot of herbal tea in the winter. It's soothing and comforting and I believe in the healing properties of the herbs. I also enjoy a cup of my homemade hot chocolate most evenings. The kind I make is dark and not too sweet and full of antioxidants from the raw cacao powder (or at least that's what I'm telling myself). It's a delicious indulgence suited only for winter. Soup is a great way to get your veggies. It is easy to make and has infinite possibilities.

3. Use music to focus and lift the mood.

Obviously this is good for any time of the year, but I find it especially important in the winter when the whole world seems to be waiting, holding its breath. You want to crawl under the covers with a good book or movie, but you've got work to do. Playing some cheerful and bright classical music helps me focus and stay on task.

4. Don't forget to exercise!!

Exercise is harder to do in the winter but all the more important. The science is overwhelming: exercise has been shown to benefit almost every aspect of your life, giving you better sleep, a stronger immune system, and increased brain function. I strive for some kind of exercise every day, usually in the form of a workout video on YouTube. There is much wisdom in the maxim: Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

5. Find an enjoyable inside hobby.

We spend a lot more time indoors in the winter. Sure, you could sit and stare at your phone or read a good book, but I find it better to challenge myself and try something new. The novelty will benefit you when the world outside is one vast expanse of grey and brown. Think of a skill you'd like to learn or a craft you might like to try. Maybe it's juggling, or doing a headstand, or knitting, or origami, or anything else. The possibilities are endless and the internet places all the resources you need right at your fingertips. Guaranteed there's a blog or a YouTube channel out there for anything you could think of.

So there you have it - some of my best tips for staying sane and even productive during the long winter months. It doesn't sound so bad now, does it? Just don't ask me about it at the end of March - it's likely I'll feel differently.  

Boston | New England | Weather


Educational Experience

The semester has only just begun, and already, I can tell that this is going to be a semester that makes me think.

 So how do I know that I will be really thinking deeply this semester? Well, in my Narrative non-fiction class we got into a discussion about biographies, and how they sometimes present a person as an inspirational ideal which raised some new questions for me:

  • How do we pick the people we want to hold up as heroes?
  • How true can an account ever be?
  • What makes a person extraordinary?
  • What if the heroes we hold up in biographies are not actually the great people we believe them to be? Do the actions they are famous for cancel out the actions they are not famous for? Should we be more realistic in presenting them?
  • Are we creating role models, or modeling life in these portrayals?

 Then I went to my class, Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Young Adults (Realism) and, before the first class even began, more questions floated up:

  • How do I define reality? Is that different than how other people define reality?
  • What is real? How do I know?
  • If reality is based on plausibility, is it possible that reality changes over time (because what was impossible in the past may be possible now, or what is improbable today could have been common in the past)?
  • Where do we draw the line between realistic fiction and fantasy?
  • What "truths" challenge reality (mine or someone else's)?

 These are big questions to grapple with, and it will be good for my brain to stretch and grow in understanding.

 If any of you have any answers, thoughts, or questions of your own, let me know.

 Best for now,

~Josie

Children's Literature | classes


Technology Courses: My "Happy Surprise"

In my last post I promised that I'd write more about my technology classes at Simmons. Like many students, I entered LIS 488, the technology core class, with some trepidation. After all, the technology components of library work had scared me away from the LIS degree for some time. I knew I wanted to obtain an education that would help me get a job somewhere in the library/archives/museum field, and I knew I wanted my degree to be flexible, adaptable. Museum studies seemed too specific and limiting, and I was afraid Library & Information Science would involve too much science and technology.

That was me before I took LIS 488. Now as someone who has finally gotten her feet wet in the world of IT, I find myself embracing a very different mindset. First of all, technology is just another skill, another subject that can be learned. Learning to code is a lot like learning a new language. You don't have to possess any particular personality or disposition to understand technology. You don't even have to be a left-brained, analytical person who loves math. In fact, my professor for Database Management has said that database design is equal parts science and art. Can you think of a more fascinating pairing?

I had categorized myself as someone who didn't "get" technology, who didn't speak computer, and who wasn't technologically gifted. I thought it wasn't my "thing." Which is why LIS 488 came as such a happy surprise. The first realization was that I could do this. The second was that I actually enjoyed it. Now here I am, choosing a class like Database Management as an elective and embarking with not the least bit of fear. It may even be that my technology courses at Simmons turn out to be the most valuable and most enjoyable of my program. Technology skills and know-how are in demand almost everywhere you look, and you'd be hard pressed to find a career that doesn't require them in some form. Technological abilities can open doors, and I for one am eager to develop as many as I can while I'm at Simmons. Approach your education with an open mind, and there's no telling what happy surprises may come your way!

SLIS | Technology | classes


Reflection:

A few weeks ago, I flew home to visit Colorado. I watched as the land beneath the plane transformed, slowly developing cracks and wrinkles that formed themselves to canyons and hills. I watched breathlessly as those hills grew larger, until they became mountains. The instant I saw them, a phrase, half remembered from a high school Spanish report flits across my mind--Yo soy una chica de los montañas--I am a girl of the mountains. In that moment, I am sure, the mountains are the landscape of my soul. How can one resist the scenery, or the wonderful people that live in the mountains?

 Then, when I flew back into Boston, I looked out of the window to see rivers glinting in the light of the setting sun, their ice-covered surfaces glowing, and trees bordering the edges of neighborhoods and cities, framing the scene. The lights in the trees greeting all the people who happen to walk by. Again, my breath caught...Boston is its own kind of beautiful, and it is weaving its way into my heart.

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Boston | New England


Year 2: Ready, Set, Go!

The start of this semester marks the beginning of my second year at Simmons. It feels like I've come full circle. Last January, I was one of the brand new students at the back-to-school lunch, declaring nervously that I'd just taken my very first class, feeling simultaneously triumphant and terrified. This Saturday I was a returning student at the back-to-school lunch, conversing easily with colleagues as we chatted about break and new classes. I had the funniest feeling talking to the new students, realizing that I was in their exact spot exactly one year ago, seeing the same fresh nervousness and excitement that I had felt reflected in their eyes.

The past year has been an extremely fulfilling and challenging one for me. I've done so many things for the first time (like blogging!) and encountered so many new ideas. I've uncovered some hidden talents of my own (who knew I'd love coding so much?) and expanded the bounds of my comfort zone by tackling difficult assignments. I've taken 5 classes for 15 credits, which puts me pretty close to the halfway mark. I could conceivably finish in one more year, if I take a heavier load of classes. I've been mulling over my options and I think that's what I'd like to do.

In my introductions on Saturday I said that I was pursing the archives track, but that I was "on the fence" about it. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I've had some course sequencing issues for my archives classes (being able to take the prerequisite courses first). SLIS West is obviously a much smaller campus than Boston and therefore the course offerings are more limited. It's true that they offer all of the classes for the archives concentration, but since I started in the spring, the courses haven't been offered in the order that I needed to take them. So I'm almost halfway through my program and I've only had ONE of my archives classes (and I had to take it online!). This semester I'm taking two more non-archives classes, which means that in order to complete the archives track I'll have to load up the rest of my program with basically all archives courses.

The other thing I'm conflicted about is the opportunity cost - the awesome library courses I'll miss out on by choosing archives instead. If I had unlimited time and money I'd honestly stay in school until I had taken every class that sounded interesting to me. Since I can't do that responsibly, I've got to decide which ones are the most important, or the best-suited to my professional goals. As with life, grad school is a choose-your-own-adventure. And I'm just not sure I'm ready to choose archives and turn to page 58 (those books drove me crazy by the way!).

I'm super DUPER excited for my classes this semester: Academic Libraries and Database Management. I've got a wonderful, optimistic feeling about both of them and I'm expecting them to help me decide which path I take for the rest of my program. So stay tuned for more about why I'm excited for these, and for why my technology courses have been the biggest "happy surprise" of grad school so far.

Megan

SLIS West


Explaining Archives to the Layperson

I've recently returned to Connecticut from a wonderful Christmas vacation with my family in southwestern Virginia. We were there for about two and a half weeks and I was able to meet up with a lot of old friends and family connections. With this came the opportunity to explain what archives is to people outside of the library community. Most importantly, I wanted people to understand why I find archives so fascinating, and why I consider it such a relevant and necessary profession in our modern age.

As you can imagine, this can be challenging. Archives isn't the only profession that is largely misunderstood and difficult to explain to outsiders. Even my husband has a hard time explaining to people exactly what it is he does at his job. During my vacation, I feel like I came up with a strategy that was fairly successful. It would have been easy enough to just give the usual spiel about documenting society, preserving history, connecting people with information, etc. and move on. But I wanted to engage my listeners, to make an impression on them, and to educate them. The best way I have found to do this is to have in your repertoire a selection of stories, examples, and case studies that will illustrate your definition of archives and engage your listeners. They are like gateways by which the "layperson" can encounter archives in a way that is relatable and memorable.

The two I used were from my readings in Intro to Archives. One "case study" is an illustration of how archives are employed in the solution of an almost inconceivable problem - how to successfully communicate the locations of radioactive waste burial sites for the ten thousand years that these materials require to become considerably less dangerous. This example was in an article we read by Kenneth Foote, cited below. The other is something that I heard referenced a few times in class discussions and literature reviews - the notion of a "digital dark age." If you don't know, digital dark age refers to a hypothetical future scenario in which the historical record and all that comprises it is inaccessible, because it's been created and stored using digital mediums, algorithms, software, etc. that are outdated, obsolete, or cannot be replicated. I've linked some articles below if you want to read more.

Framing my explanation of what archives is within the context of these examples lead to some interesting discussions. Granted, most casual acquaintances probably aren't looking for a lengthy exposition on the topic when they ask you what you are studying or what you do for a living. For something a bit more pithy and small talk worthy, The Society of American Archivists has this great little guide on "Crafting your Elevator Speech" here. As I've said before, I feel like each of us assumes the role of ambassador as soon as we become a part of this library/archives community. What will you say when it's your turn?

Foote, Kenneth E. "To Remember and Forget: Archives, Memory, and Culture." American Archivist, Vol. 53 (Summer 1990). 378-392.

Interesting articles related to the "digital dark age:"

Young, Lauren J. "Ghosts in the Reels." Science Friday. Retrieved from  https://apps.sciencefriday.com/data/ghosts.html

Madrigal, Alexis C. "Future Historians Probably Won't Understand Our Internet, and That's Okay." The Atlantic. Dec 6, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/12/it-might-be-impossible-for-future-historians-to-understand-our-internet/547463/?utm_source=fbb

Archives | Real World


Winter Break

A few weeks ago, before winter break began, I received an e-mail that filled me with trepidation. Enclosed with the message from the professor for my Realism class in the spring was a booklist. The professor suggested that students make sure they are familiar with the twenty books on the list, as they are touchstone books for the subject. Out of the twenty, I have only read three. I had thought I was pretty widely read, but this list revealed just how much I have neglected the realism genre, and made it clear that I had some catching up to do.

As a result, I spent my break trying to make sure that I was able to discuss at least some of the books. I was surprised to find the books very engaging and compelling, and as I read them, I was relieved to find that I had read similar things, so I hadn't completely neglected the genre, I just missed some of the historically significant texts. To my surprise, I was truly enjoying myself.

I started my winter break expecting to be miserable, and forcing myself to read heavy, dense stories about difficult lives, and while many of the books did depict difficult lives I wasn't forcing myself to read them. I truly wanted to finish them, and once they were completed, I wished that I could read more. I think I shall enjoy realism. I look forward to next semester.  

classes


Finishing My First Semester

Whew! I made it through my first semester of grad school! Let me tell you, grad school is HARD. I know, I know; grad school is supposed to be hard, but I'm not just talking about academics--which I was prepared for. Grad school is hard in a good way, it's hard because I have been asked to examine all the things I thought I knew, and verify whether I can still find them true. It's hard because I am learning new things every step of the way, even when I am not in school, and sometimes it feels like my brain can't keep up. It's hard because I'm surrounded by incredible people who have achieved great things and I look up to all of them, but fear I will never be in their league. So yes, grad school is hard; and there are times when I wonder if it was worth it to come, but most days it is hard in a way that also makes me glad I took the chance. 

Students


Libraries Are Awesome!

We had quite the festive end to the semester last Saturday with fresh bagels and muffins in the classroom and SNOW!! I realize this is New England where snow is more a matter of course and a mundane winter inconvenience, but I am from Virginia and still firmly in the "snow is awesome" camp. It started around 11 am in South Hadley and I left immediately after class to start my two-hour drive back to CT, where it had started around 8 am. Golly it was a beautiful (albeit messy and slow) drive! I listened to Christmas music and thought about the holidays and relished in my new freedom from homework.

This was one long semester, but thankfully the end was much easier than the beginning. With the biggest assignments out of the way I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned from both my classes. It may not surprise you to hear that in library school you will learn a lot about why libraries are so awesome. I am definitely coming away from this semester with an even greater appreciation for libraries and archives.

In my class LIS 407: Information Sources & Services (aka reference) we learned all about the resources available in the library. Each week we had to explore and then evaluate one source from a weekly list. At the end of the semester, I now have a list of 206 different individual resources, of all types. Some of these are free online, some are books in the library, many are digital, and some require log-in with library credentials. I have evaluated maybe about 15 of them, and used many more to complete assignments for the class. There are lots that I still haven't even looked at! I am blown away by the quality, depth, and richness of these resources and thrilled that I now have the skills and knowledge to utilize them both as a librarian and as an individual. There is information in these sources that can actually improve people's lives. For one assignment I even took a closer look at my own local library and discovered a ton of resources I never knew were there.  Here I thought I could find most of what I needed from a Google search, but this class has shown me the light and the light is good.

The archives class (LIS 438) was my first real introduction and hands-on experience with archives. I've gained a better understanding of what archivists actually do and a better appreciation for archives' role in history and society. Archival material is different from library material in that it is unique and an organic by-product of the activities that created it. Therefore, the way that archivists provide access is much different from libraries, but the goals are largely the same. It strikes me as both a very challenging and very fulfilling profession.

In summary, both the library and archives fields are service-oriented: we exist to provide services (and resources) that improve society as a whole and individual lives. I am still amazed at all the people in the world who don't use libraries, barely know of their existence, or even question their value. And I would say that societal awareness and appreciation of archives is even lower than that of libraries. And yet here we are: deliberating over questions of ethics, debating how best to promote social justice, and engineering our spaces and services to be ever more inclusive and equitable. Librarians and archivists stand always ready to serve - whether our service communities appreciate it or not.

classes


Scholarship Appreciation Time

I'm extremely thankful to have a merit scholarship from SLIS. Every semester (when I take at least 9 units) I receive $6,000 from Simmons; that's $24,000 over four semesters, which is nothing to scoff at. As a scholarship recipient, I have been tasked to write a short thank you letter; I thought I might post it here.

The cost of higher education has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years, and the only reason I have been able to afford Simmons (and with relatively low financial stress) is the SLIS Merit Scholarship. Simmons was one of two schools I applied to that offered me any financial aid, and by the time I received my acceptance letter, had become my top choice. I was thrilled to see that my academic efforts had paid off, literally!

I cannot overstate how much I value the unique experience I'm having at Simmons. I'm from California, and I went to UC Berkeley for my Bachelor's degree, so you can imagine how different it has been living here and attending Simmons. I never truly understood why it was called "New England" until I moved here! Part of why I chose Simmons was to live somewhere that would feel different; I had lived in the same area my whole life, and wanted to expand my horizons. Boston has certainly delivered on that front. At Simmons specifically, I am frequently impressed by how responsive and engaged the faculty are, and I appreciate their dedication to providing courses that meet the needs of the students. Simmons was by far the smallest school I applied to for my MLIS, and I am grateful to be part of a close-knit community.

The SLIS Merit Scholarship has cut my loans by more than half, which means I don't have to work as much and have more time to pursue my personal and professional interests while in school. I'm involved in student leadership, and plan to become more engaged in student programs, conferences, and events. I'm even able to keep up with my casual interests like music and video games! Finances are one of the major sources of stress for students today, and my lifestyle, academics, and mental health have all benefitted from the relief the scholarship brings.

Boston | GSLIS | New England | SLIS | Students


Ethics in the Library and the Archives

I've been enjoying some very engaging readings and discussion in both of my classes the past few weeks, as our units on ethics happened to coincide. According to my professors, the ethics lesson is always everyone's favorite, and I soon found out why. Believe it or not, the archives and library professions are veritable minefields of fascinating ethical quandaries!

As we discussed these topics in class on Saturday, I realized that library ethics are essentially about protecting and enabling people's right and freedom of choice. We believe that everyone has the right to choose what to read, what to think, what to do, and what to say. We might not agree with their choice, and other people in the library or the community might not agree with their choice, but it is not our place to restrict or pass judgement on that choice. It is important to remember that we cannot know what use a patron intends for a particular book, or what reaction they may have to any given piece of information. Of course, some lines have to be drawn to make sure a person's choice or action does not infringe on the rights of others, and this is where things can get tricky. And what do you do when the profession demands a certain kind of behavior, but your employer demands another? What if it's the U.S. government asking you to act contrary to your professional ethics?

In the archives, ethics largely involves the balancing act between the needs and rights of many different stakeholders: the institution/repository, the users and researchers, the donors, the creators and subjects of records, the materials themselves, and society at large. Archivists serve as mediators between all these different groups and attempt to resolve the conflicts that result when the rights or wishes of one group conflict with those of another group. As with libraries, copyright and privacy present ongoing and recurring challenges.

Professional codes of ethics and values statements can provide useful frameworks for making ethical decisions, but every situation is unique and the possible scenarios are endless. This means that most ethics questions are handled on a case-by-case basis and it often comes down to the individual making the decision and their own inner guidance system. Of all the parties involved, perhaps the most important one to answer to is yourself.  

If you've never seen or read these documents, you should definitely check out the Library Bill of Rights, the American Library Association's Code of Ethics, and the Core Values and Ethics statement from the Society of American Archivists. If these declarations resonate with you and/or provoke feelings of conviction with some trepidation, then you have probably chosen the right profession!

Archives | Libraries | classes


A Language of BEEPS

One of the biggest things I have had to adjust to is the traffic, and the noise that comes with it, especially the horns honking. Each day as I walk to school there are horns blaring, tooting, and bleeping... at first it was all terribly overwhelming, I could not identify any real purpose to it, after all, what difference does it make if you make a lot of noise while you are stuck in traffic? You will still be stuck even if you honk your horn...but slowly I have begun to distinguish between the sounds, and I have noticed that there are patterns to how people honk their horns, and you can sometimes tell what they are trying to say by the noise their car makes:

  • The long drawn out HO-O-O-O-O-O-NK= frustration, usually in the term of "SOMEBODY MOVE!!!! Or "HEY I'M DRIVING HERE!!!" or "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
  • An abrupt double HO-ONK-HO-ONK= " STOP THAT (you idiot)"
  • But a quick double-tap Beep-beep= "Hey there" when you see someone you know walking beside the road, or  it can be another form of a catcall, or it can mean "Excuse Me" if you are trying to politely get into the flow of traffic
  • A short, quick Beep= "Hey pay attention" usually when issued when the person in front of you waits to long to go after the light changes, or something like that
  • A series of rapid fire beeps (beep-beep-beep-beep) usually means "Oh my gosh, I am here, please don't hit me" or "I'm coming through move out of my way" depending on the situation or the driver. 

I am sure there are more meanings depending on the situation, and other people might have their own interpretations, but this is what it sounds like to me. I am sure I will have many more chances to study.

Boston


Don't Let School Get in the Way of Your Education

One of the greatest benefits of library graduate school that nobody tells you about is the breadth of experiences people come from. Some students are straight out of college, others have been working as librarians for years, and many (like me) are in between. I highly recommend just chatting with the people around you; it can sometimes be more useful than readings and prescribed discussion.

Just from chatting with classmates, I've learned about the many, many different ways to set up children's storytime, the radically different administrative structures of rural and big city libraries, the pushback against "controversial" projects from supervisors and the public, and much, much more. I often wish there was a space designated specifically for swapping stories, tips, and resources with classmates and colleagues. We grow so much more as a profession when we share information (I mean, that is kind of our whole deal, right?).

Give feedback to your professors related to this. In my experience, they will usually respond graciously. If you find certain assignments unhelpful, tell them. If you have a certain topic you'd really like covered, tell them. As students we can often forget that the school is (ostensibly) there for us. The faculty are there for us. This is especially true in a professional graduate program at a non-research focused institution like Simmons.

Be vocal about what and how you want to learn. Share with each other. This is your education.

GSLIS | People | SLIS | Students


Autumnal Thoughts

Fall here is very different than fall at home. At home, fall is like a candle, once the leaves start turning, they all turn, and suddenly everything looks gold. Then within a few weeks, most of the leaves are gone and you can feel winter creeping in. Here, the fall smolders like an ember--individual trees/patches change to red or gold, and then lose their leaves. The color spreads slowly, and it is possible to have trees with no leaves next to trees that are still green. In addition, the winter seems to slowly move in as temperatures dip a few degrees each week. It seems more appropriate to call this time Autumn; it really is a season here, not just a single month. So much so that I have begun to separate my clothes into fall-worthy and winter-worthy, which I never had to do at home. I am enjoying this change of pace, there really is something cozy about all the Autumn tones people wear, the scarves, and the light coats, the apples and the steaming beverages that are suddenly popular, and it makes time seem like it is going by at a peaceful, calm rate.

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Students


Connection

At a small college, opportunity for connection is everywhere.

Currently, there are under 1,000 students in the Simmons SLIS program, and only about 600 on-campus students in Boston. A small department means more interpersonal connection per capita; now that I've finished the core courses, I see the same folks over and over again during the week. When you're so immersed in a space with the same handful of people, and those people have the same interests that you do, and those people are kind and interesting and great, you can have discussions you may not be able to have elsewhere. Where else would those around me take interest in linguistic gatekeepers, adultism, architectural design, and bias in higher education? I'm grateful to be able to have these discussions every day with people who are passionate, opinionated, and kind.

Here's the secret truth about librarianship: nobody is here for the money, glamor, and prestige, because there is none to be had. My friends in law school and medical school frequently run into folks they don't care for much, who have been pressured into the profession, are upholding a family legacy, want money and social power, or any combination of the three. When you choose a path that is chronically underpaid and undervalued, tends to be fairly invisible, and is ultimately about public service, you almost exclusively meet people who genuinely want to be there, with no ulterior motives.

Personally, I would take that over money or prestige any day.


Thinking Like an Archivist

We are more than halfway through the semester and with a few days off for holidays this month, I think I can safely say we are in the home stretch. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Woo!

With my archives internship wrapping up, I thought I'd share some of my observations. First of all, this internship required some serious time management. It is built right into the Intro to Archives course (LIS 438) on top of a typical load of coursework, and it's a lot. I actually advised a classmate the other day not to take it, unless she was serious about archives. Because unless you've got all kinds of free time and not many daytime commitments, it will require some major sacrifices beyond the typical course.

That being said, I have loved all the course material (not so much the online format) and the work I've been doing for my internship. I have finally gotten some hands-on experience in an archive. It really is essential. I've heard several times now how archivists don't just work with a different kind of materials than librarians but that they actually "think" differently. This class, and the internship, is all about learning to think like an archivist.

So what does that mean? Well for my internship I was given a small collection of records to "process." The collection entailed about fifteen gray document boxes filled with file folders of institutional records from the 80s and 90s. There was some order and some disorder and I had to make decisions about what was important, what should go where, and whether I should take the time to rearrange/reorder. Of course I had to take some time to look in each folder and rifle through the materials so I could learn what was there, but how much time should I take? How thorough did I need to be?

In retrospect I realize that these expectations were not clearly defined, and I think (I know) I erred on the side of too much detail. I am a thorough and detail-oriented person by nature, and I wanted to "do right" by the collection by giving it careful and thorough treatment. For the sake of my internship and gaining experience and completing a discrete project, this isn't the worst way to go about things. But what if my repository has hundreds more collections just like that, all waiting to be processed? And what if my users can't access and use and benefit from those collections until they have been arranged and described, at least on a basic level?

This is one of the crucial aspects of the archival profession: effectively balancing the needs of the collection with the needs of users. There are donor relationships and donor wishes to consider, and many issues affecting access such as copyright and privacy. Archivists must balance their limited time and resources with the endless tasks that need doing and services that need providing. To me, thinking like an archivist means navigating all of these difficult decisions, judgements, and priorities to provide the best service possible. 

Archives | Classes | Internships | Online | SLIS | classes


Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Enrollment has rolled around for Spring 2018, and I'm completely torn apart.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm definitely struggling. Every semester there seems to be at least six classes I want to take, even though I'm limited to four, and self-limited to three due to money. It feels like I can see infinitely branching paths in front of me depending on what I decide. Young adult collections? Collection development? Information services for diverse users? Everything sounds so great!

Let's say there are six classes I'm interested in, none of which create scheduling conflicts (totally hypothetical, definitely NOT enrolled in three classes and on three waitlists right now...). We can determine the amount of possible course combinations by using a non-ordered combination formula.

This results in a whopping...twenty combinations. Okay, so not quite a staggering number, but maybe an almost-tripped-but-caught-myself number?

Anyway, each of these twenty paths could lead me to a totally different future, depending on my classmates, my professors, my assignments, and of course, the content. One of these combinations would be the least stressful. One would be the most. One might set me on a track for success. One might feel like a huge waste of money and time. How can I choose with such uncertainty???

Maybe I'm putting too much stock into this (read: I'm definitely putting too much stock into this). With only twelve courses needed for a degree, I'm bound to miss out on something good no matter what I choose. No amount of math is going to change that.

Classes | SLIS | classes