Student Snippets


A Lightbulb Moment: When You Finally Realize What You Want

How did I get here?  I've asked myself this question a lot the past few weeks.  I've spent the last fourteen years as an administrative assistant for an accounting firm.  It's not what I was planning on doing with my master's degree in art history, but life doesn't always take you on a straight path.  I always thought I'd move on and find something else to do, but I didn't know what I wanted.  So I stayed, got comfortable, and saw myself continuing with the firm for awhile longer. 

But then, an unexpected shakeup left the future in doubt.  My plan to stay with the firm when the younger partner took over was no longer feasible.  For the first time in awhile, I had to seriously think about what I wanted for the future.  I started thinking about the things that I love--books, organizing, helping people--and what jobs would fit that criteria.  I thought being a librarian would be perfect, and browsing through Simmons' website, I knew I was right.  I read the program and course descriptions, and thought, yes!  THIS is what I want to do.  Before that, I couldn't really articulate what I wanted.  It was just a nebulous idea in my head, but now it had form.  And when I read about the archives concentration, I was completely on board.   

So here I am, going back to school again, only this time, I'm approaching it from a completely different angle.  With my previous degrees, I took classes in the hopes that I would get some kind of relevant job afterwards.  Now, I know that I want a job in working in an archive, and every class I take will help me get there.  While I'm a bit nervous, I'm also completely excited to learn everything I can, ask questions, and get my hands dirty (maybe literally?) with an internship.  It feels amazing to finally realize what I'm meant to be doing, and I can't wait to find out what the future holds.

Real World | SLIS | Students

Welcome New Blogger - Amie Grosshans

Hello readers! We'd like to introduce our new student blogger -- Amie Grosshans! She will be posting regularly soon.

Read a little bit about her below:  

Welcome Amie! 

Hi, I'm Amie! I was born and raised here in Massachusetts and have a master's degree in Art History. As soon as I read about Simmons's LIS program, I knew that I wanted to be a librarian. It's a bit of a shock to be back at school again after almost twenty years, but I'm loving every minute of it. I'm finally in my element and so excited for the future. I'm currently in the archives concentration but am open to exploring other areas of librarianship.

When I'm not working or doing schoolwork, I'm usually reading or listening to an audiobook. I also love to knit shawls, sweaters, and socks and am pretty much never without my needles. My handknits make the crazy Boston winters a bit more bearable. Aside from my family, my dog Peggy is my biggest supporter and study buddy.

People | SLIS | Students

Going Home and Going Online

I got back from winter break a little later than everyone else since I had my brother's wedding to attend the last week of January. If anyone needs a refresher (I'm sure I mention it in nearly every blog post) but I am from Florida, and in true extra Florida fashion, my brother got married on a 3-day Disney cruise to the bahamas. It was fantastic, I got to spend quality time with my own family and my new sister-in-law's family, most importantly though I got to spend that time with family in the sunny caribbean.

I mention this lovely vacation not to brag (that's a lie, I am totally bragging about how great Florida is) because in order to spend the most time with family over break and for the wedding, I decided that this semester I will be taking classes fully online!. It just made the most sense given that I wanted to spend as much time as possible home in Florida. Which is one of the great things about Simmons, they offer nearly all the core course needed for the program online!

So this semester I am enrolled in LIS438 (Introduction to Archival Methods and Services) and LIS439 (Preservation Management) both key courses in the Cultural Heritage concentration. This is not my first time taking online classes but it has been quite a while especially considering that the only other time was when I was 19, in community college taking 100 levels courses over the summer.  My biggest concern is probably obvious but self-motivation is a very important part of taking online classes. Simmons online course are asynchronous so you don't have a specific time where you have to sign-in to "attend class". You do have deadlines like any other course but the great thing is you don't have to get up super early to try and beat rush hour traffic to make it to your class on time or rush to campus after work to make your evening class.

I'm only on my third week but so far the experience has been going pretty well. I'm naturally a night owl so I like being able to watch lectures and do assignments on my own time but I can't stress how important it is to stay on top of deadlines for online courses. I'd argue it's more important than face-to-face course since you don't see you classmates or professor around in person to remind you of what's coming up. So far though both my professors have been great about emailing and messaging us through moodle with updates and reminders, but I constantly find myself referring to my syllabus just to make sure.

I also want to say how important it is to take breaks when doing online courses. The first week I was quite overambitious and thought I could crank out my assignments in a day if I devoted all my time so that I wouldn't have to worry about them leading up to the cruise. Annnnnd that lead to a wonderful migraine and even more stress. So seriously remember to pace yourself and take breaks, learn from my overconfident idiocy.

A final word of advice, which seems kind of obvious, is to not just hole up at home doing your classes. Sure, I may have decided to take online classes Spring semester because winter in New England is criminal but I am not doing myself any favors academically by sitting in bed on my laptop trying to write a reflection on agents of deterioration. Get to a coffee shops, a library, or a community work space. A change of scenery really helps perk you up and re-energize you to get back to work (caffeine and the social pressure of having others working around you certainly helps too).


Classes | Online | SLIS | Students | Weather

HTML-ove Affair?

This week in LIS 488, we learned the basics of HTML. As my last post shows, I was really quaking in my boots for this course! This week went really well, as we worked through a Code Academy tutorial, and coded a simple HTML site about bears!

My (very minimal) experience with HTML stems from a tumblr blog I've been updating since I was 14. I remember the excitement of selecting my first theme, and writing my first little bio. With the help of the Wayback Machine of, introduced to me by Danielle Pollock, I don't have to just fondly remember my blog in 2011: I can see it! And now, on display, my greatest pride and greatest shame, all rolled into one. 

Check out this screenshot of my blog from November 6th, 2011. My first background was a wicked cool purple and black flannel. I "hated people," and loved tea.

I remember sitting in a newly funded computer lab in 3rd grade, and wondering why I was being forced to complete my report on platypi on this stupid machine when my school library had perfectly good physical books. (Sidenote: It took a whole office effort to track down the title of these books I'd convinced myself were a fever dream.)

Flash forward to middle school. I remember being in awe of my teachers who could operate e-Boards. When I discovered the blogosphere, I was even more impressed with the people who could design web pages with multiple colors, with flashing pictures and bold lettering!  I went through high school, then on to college, and learned to love melding physical and digital research together. Times and tech changed, but my blog was always a constant. When it came time to design and redesign my own blog, I scoured the web for the perfect format to properly showcase my teen angst! As these screen grabs from April 30th, 2014 and May 27th, 2017 indicate, I had a penchant for lace, and talented friends willing to doodle avatars for me!

I think it's funny how I've come full circle! Now I'm learning the very HTML that allowed me to express myself throughout my teen years, and I love it! To me, there's something so calming about reading in a "different language," and the way the code changes color in the ATOM software for HTML writing I've downloaded on my computer. It's been a fun trip down memory lane to see what I wrote, selected, and pseudo-designed at different stages in my life. Now it's even more fun to think about what type of code was written to make my blog look and act the way it did! I think when I'm done this course, my blog circa 2019 might need a face lift! 

Fun | SLIS | Technology | classes | skills

Finding Your Librarian Identity

I have two interesting stories from this week! For the first, I unexpectedly came face-to-face with a real life preservation situation and I knew exactly what to do. I keep all of my family's important documents and records in a heavy duty plastic file box. The other day I was pulling out a package of extra file folders when I noticed an icky smell. The outside of the package smelled really bad, and looked a little....wet, or maybe greasy? I looked back in the box and noticed the pocket folder next to the package was deformed and buckling, like it had gotten wet. I gingerly pulled it out and observed some interesting damage and deterioration all over the surface where the glossy finish was wrinkling and peeling. I cracked the folder open, which in retrospect, wasn't the best idea because it was stuck together with MOLD!!! I stared at it for a good three seconds with equal parts fascination and repulsion thinking, "so that's what active mold looks like" before I hustled the whole thing into the trash and washed my hands.

What's cool about this is that I immediately knew exactly what I was looking at and exactly how to handle it. The next day I inspected the rest of the contents of the box, removed everything and cleaned (and dried) the inside thoroughly because I know that mold is serious business. Nothing else in the box was damp or moldy, so I'm guessing the folder was already wet when it was tucked into the box. Luckily my little mold outbreak was very small and did not damage anything too valuable, and I caught it before it spread. The lesson here is, take preservation if you can, because it is such a fun and interesting class and you will definitely use your knowledge and never look at materials storage or old buildings the same way again!

My second story comes from my internship. My mentor/supervisor and I were discussing an article I had been assigned to read, and he called my attention to this line: "Rapid changes in the profession, combined with the evolution of the many different types of information professionals, have made it all but impossible to pin down a core identity shared by librarians" (citation below). We then talked about the importance of setting your own narrative, managing how you perceive yourself (and thus how others perceive you), and determining your own librarian identity. My mentor said that library school gives us a "generic" education about librarianship and that it's our responsibility to pursue/create our own specialties or areas of strength beyond library school. We have to set the narrative for ourselves or other people will set it for us, and it will probably be based on incorrect assumptions or stereotypes.

I realized I have a lot more work to do in this area. Part of the problem is the uncertainty of life: where my family will end up and what kinds of jobs will be available when I'm ready to work full-time (or even part-time). I want to be able to be flexible and try a lot of different things, and not pigeonhole myself into one specific area. But I also know that there are certain things that brought me to librarianship, and special ways for me to contribute as my own individual. I guess I was hoping that life, or fate or something would decide the path for me. Anyway, it's something to think about as I approach graduation.

Miller, R. K. & Benjes-Small, C. M. (2016). "Identifying as an Instruction Librarian" from The New Instruction Librarian: A Workbook for Trainers and Learners. American Library Association. p. 9. 

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes | skills

First Weeks

So it has been a crazy few weeks! 

First, the weather has been insane.  We've had super cold weather, we've had snow squalls, we've had ice, we've had rain, we've had sun, we've had wind, and yesterday the high was 63 degrees!  We've had a little bit of everything!  Will the weather ever make up its mind?  Every day is a surprise!  I thought one of the things about living in New England was guaranteed freezing cold weather all the time in the winter, but the past two days have proved me wrong (although I'm certainly not complaining because I did not enjoy the snow squalls last week, and I do not want anything similar to the polar vortex the Midwest experienced). 

The first few weeks of class have been going great!  As you know, I'm taking LIS 451: Academic Libraries this semester.  It's my first elective at SLIS, and my last blog was posted on the first official day of my class, so I didn't have many details to share, but now I do!  The material for this class is so, so interesting, and because I work in an academic library, it is very relevant to my life now (and it will be relevant later if I decide I want my future library career to be in academic libraries), and I am really happy I chose to take this class this semester.  I've learned so much already.  We've talked about mission statements and goals, understanding student audiences, outreach to students, and so much more.   Also, even though I'm taking this class online, there is so much participation, and I do not feel disconnected from my classmates at all.  So far, this feels to be the most participation-heavy online class that I've taken.  However, there was something that seemed a little strange though: in most of my online classes, there was an "Introduce Yourself" forum where you get to "meet" all of your classmates.  This class didn't have that; however, we did have an introduction forum for our group project, and our participation/activity forums have been very lively which I have really enjoyed!  

 I can already tell that I'm going to need to be at the top of my time management game this semester with all of the projects, readings, and weekly assignments.  There are so many projects in this class.   However, every single project, every single assignment, and every single reading has a purpose in this class (and in every class at SLIS).  One of our projects is a mini-grant writing application--that is so useful, and I know I will use that later in my career.  Our big semester-long group project is a Committee Group Project, where we all sign up for a committee and we submit a written report, a presentation, and we all take turns being chair and submit a chair report.  Committees are how work gets done in academic libraries, and in universities in general, and this will be so helpful for my future. I've said it before: there is no busy work at SLIS, everything you do for homework is like professional development, and I know that is the case with this class.  Even though I know this class is going to be a lot of hard work, I'm really excited to be taking it, and I'm excited to learn more!

Online | SLIS | Students | Weather | classes

Spring 2019 Kickoff

With the first week of classes coming to a close, I thought I'd give my first impressions of my second SLIS semester so far!

On Tuesday I had my first section of LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals (my final core class). I was extremely nervous about this class, so it's not a coincidence that I saved it for last! I am someone who loves technology and is always excited to learn new things, but after a few too many attempts at troubleshooting, I go into meltdown mode. Danielle put my mind at ease when she started class by having us go around the room, share our tech backgrounds, and rate our feelings about technology on a smiley face scale ranging from love to hate (just like this one).


Most of us placed ourselves on the scale at "meh," with various justifications for why. Some rationales for not providing a more positive score were frustration, privacy concerns, and lack of sociability. Danielle stated that the course would take on all of those subjects! We moved to the COCIS tech lab for the second half of class, where we signed up for our first presentation, and then spent an hour learning some simple coding via a tutorial website. I chose to create my own Google doodle. It isn't perfect, but I'm pretty proud of it! It ended up looking like this!


On Thursday I had my LIS450: Public Libraries class. I was super excited for this course, as public librarianship is my "jam," and it did not disappoint! I know about one third of the people in the class, but was excited to make some new friends. This is by far the bubbliest group I've encountered.

I was originally placed on the waitlist for LIS 453: Collection Management and Development. The class is only offered online, and is apparently very popular, as I started out 22nd on the waitlist. I was briefly enrolled in LIS 493: Intellectual Freedom - which I was very excited to take with my advisor Laura Saunders - but thought that Collection Development and Management better fit my personal goals of public and reference librarianship. Luckily for me, the registrar's office looked at the long wait list, and enlisted Michael Leach to teach another section of LIS 453. I've only just started exploring the moodle page for our online section, but so far I'm feeling super optimistic. I loved that we had a forum to post introductions (including fun facts and where we're from!). I was worried about lack of human connection, but that doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem! I'm looking forward to the flexibility an online class offers me!



Fun | SLIS | classes | skills

First Impressions

Over the past week my semester has truly gotten underway and I think it is going to be exactly what I need for my final semester at Simmons. The most exciting thing to happen this week was the first meeting for my internship! I sat down with the senior reference librarian & instruction coordinator at Fairfield University and we hashed out introductions, expectations, and scheduling. For the next few weeks we will be meeting to discuss readings, instruction techniques, and lesson plans. I'll get to observe a few classes, and then, I WILL GET TO TEACH ALL BY MYSELF. Yep, you heard that right (because I was yelling excitedly). These kind people are going to let an inexperienced library school student teach undergraduate freshman English classes. In fact, I'm going to teach about ten classes over the course of the semester! Yay for real life experience! I AM SO EXCITED.

Readings and discussions have begun in my online metadata class and I'm getting pretty good vibes about it. Many of the students are in their final semester at Simmons like me but we've also got folks from all over and in different stages of their life/career/education. Most of us (including me) are taking this class because we've gotten a sense from other classes that metadata is "important." I like how the instructor has organized the online class and I feel like our discussions are going to be lively and informative. She's created lots of different forums to facilitate feedback and interaction.

This semester is like my final testing ground before I head out into the real world with my MSLIS. It's my chance to see how much I actually like teaching. It's my chance to glean just a little bit more technological know-how before I have to decide what skills I can truthfully list on my resume. It's my chance to figure out what area of librarianship I want to aim for. And it's my last chance to call myself a SLIS student. Let's see if I can make the best of it before I completely run out of steam. 😉

Fun | School Libraries | Students | classes

My Last Rodeo

It's been over a month since I last posted on the blog so Happy New Year everyone! I did survive last semester's final week and I'm really proud of what I accomplished but boy was it tough. I needed a good break after that which is why I took a little hiatus from the blog. But now I am back in the saddle for what will be my last Simmons SLIS rodeo!

In fact, I've been back in the saddle since January 10th which was the first day of the two-week long preservation course up at SLIS West. We met from 9-4, Thursday-Saturday for two weeks in a row and it was a blast. It was a large class too - probably the biggest I've had face to face - with a mix of students from Boston and SLIS West. I got a hotel in the area both weekends and it almost felt like a mini vacation.

Preservation was so fascinating and what it did most of all was give me another "lens" through which to view everything that goes on in libraries, archives, and museums. Our instructor liked to say that preservation has lots of "tentacles" that reach into almost every aspect of operations - from policymaking to donor relations to collection management to disaster planning. If this course were produced for television it might have been called "How Stuff is Made: Library Edition" with a new series: "How Stuff Deteriorates" and a few special editions of "What's that Smell?" I've never had a class that left me so full of fun facts, like:

Did you know that insect poop is called "frass?"

Did you know that nitrate film can burn under water?

Did you know that iron gall ink was made out of oak galls?

Did you know that the real "rag and bone man" collected old rags for papermaking in 19th century Europe?

I highly recommend LIS 439: Preservation and if you can take it with Donia Conn, all the better. It will open your eyes to things you had never noticed before and make you feel like a real librarian/archivist.

With preservation over I'm gearing up for my last and final Simmons class: LIS 445 Metadata. I'm taking it online, which means I can bid farewell to those long Saturdays up in South Hadley. I will miss the people and the classroom experience, but I will not miss the driving. I think this last semester is going to be awesome. I have one online class, an exciting internship set to begin any day now, and possibly an opportunity to present at a library conference (more on that later)! This Simmons journey has been quite the adventure and I'm hoping to go out with a bang!

Classes | SLIS | SLIS West | Students | classes

And We're Back!

Happy 2019 everyone!  The Fall 2018 semester wrapped up a little over a month ago and school is officially back in session.  Additionally, because I work in an academic library, I got almost three weeks off of work because of the intersession.  I must say, as much as I love school and work and libraries, it was nice to not think about any of that for a few weeks. 

So, what did I do during my time off?  I had such grand plans for my break, because I wasn't going to have any homework, and I wasn't going to be at work, and I had a nice solid chunk of time off where I could actually do things and go places.  However, absolutely none of my plans came to fruition.  I did absolutely nothing over my break and it was wonderful.   I have no regrets.  I did see Mary Poppins Returns if that counts as doing something, but aside from that, I really just spent most of my time hanging out at home in my pajamas reading, watching TV, and desperately trying to get my sleep schedule back on track.  Even though I didn't do much over my break, I think I needed to take this time to relax, recharge, and get ready for the new semester.  

Anyways, as I mentioned, the Spring 2019 semester has now officially started!  I feel ready to go and take on the world of LIS 451: Academic Libraries!  I'm really excited for this class.  Unlike previous semesters, I'm not as nervous going in to this class (although my textbook has not arrived yet, which is slightly concerning).  My first semester at SLIS, I was nervous yet very excited going in because I didn't know what to expect. It was an online class (which I was somewhat apprehensive about but have since learned to love and appreciate the benefits of) and I was starting the great new adventure of grad school as well as the new adventure of living in Massachusetts.  My second semester at SLIS I was nervous going in because I was taking a summer class, and therefore it was a shortened timeframe.  My third semester at SLIS I was extremely nervous going in because I was taking a technology class and as you know, I didn't know that much about coding or programming.  This time around, I'm not worried about the online format, and it's not a shortened time frame, and I've since gained some new technology skills.  I have a few classes under my belt, I work in an academic library so I have a bit of work experience that I'm bringing to the table, and I can't wait to get started!  This is my first elective at SLIS and I'm very excited for this semester! I'll keep you posted on my progress! 

Fun | Relaxing | SLIS | classes

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