Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Other Librarianing Fun

Well hello there, blog watchers! It's been a whirlwind of a time for me the last couple of weeks. I'm thankful to have a few big presentations inside and outside of classroom out of the way so I can catch up on some reading (for class- of course, but also for Discworld- of course). Yesterday was sunny and reached up into the high 40s where I am in MA, so I'm feeling pretty good this fine President's Day.


I thought it would be fun to devote this blog post to some things you may not get a lot of in depth experience with in LIS school, but you will get to experience in the wide world of libarianing (with variation of course depending on your specific position). This post was inspired by my SLIS West buddy Jenney when she told our friend "way to embrace the glue and glitter!" after he shared some recent projects he'd done.


Readers' Advisory - okay, you do get time spent on this in school- especially depending on the classes, and certainly in reference which is a required course. But the frequent practice of it in the library in the "real world" setting made me put it here. There is still a need for librarians to love books and to love suggesting them to folks based on their interest, reading level, and whatever else!


Book Displays - Murder on Valentine's is always a fun one


Decorative displays - paper hearts, snowflakes, a Dungeons and Dragons decorative display, oh my!


Seed cataloging - because it's not just books, ebooks, audio cd's, cassette tapes, VHS, Kindles, records, Walkman's, board and card games, CD players, DVDs, headphones, magazines, parks passess, museum passes, kayaks (yup), lifejackets, flashlights, camping kits, kid's outdoor study kits, microscopes, and electricity use testing supplies we have at the library! And no one wants to find out that they're growing fennell when they wanted to grow basil. Oh- so you should also make sure you know how to use all these things too! Yup, even that typewriter you allow patrons access to.


Book repair­ - 'cause, you know, stuff gets used. You know how it is- who wants to put down that page turner just because you have to bathe?


Help people figure out the organization of the shelves - whether it be Dewey, LC classification numbers, or even last name of author or illustrator. Hey, don't judge 'em, I had a tough time as a patron with LCCNs especially at first too- and I still have to sing my alphabet in my head when I'm re-shelving.


Interact with people, all types of people, at all different stages of their life, from different places, with different languages, with different abilities, with different stories. It's easy, right? We're librarians, we love stories, and every person has a story- so just love people too, okay? Be nice. Don't comment on their book selections. Be okay with them talking about PTA or selling their house or being a soldier stationed abroad. We're lucky that people want to talk to us. So, listen.


And on that last note, we had a great speaker at SLIS West this weekend. Rodney Obien, Head of Special Collections & Archives at Keene State College came and spoke with us about the human side of archives. The fact that you're working with materials of lived experience, often meaning that those who created them are no longer living, or that those donating them are at the end of life or end of career or end of well, you just don't know. But, they're often in transition. We talk a lot about theory and working with users/communities. But, you can't teach everything in a class. And every person and every relationship is it's own story, not a case study. It was wonderful hearing from Rodney about this aspect of working in archives, this human relationship side of archives and living and working with the reality that we are all mortal. Memento Mori.


Thanks for reading y'all!
~Manda


This week's The Great TP quote:
"WORDS IN THE HEART CANNOT BE TAKEN." ― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Fun | Reader's Advisory | Real World | SLIS | SLIS West


The Interview Process

I'm in my last semester at SLIS West, and that means it's time to start applying for professional jobs! Woohoo! Especially because I'm primarily interested in working in an academic library, I've got to be applying for things pre-graduation whenever possible. Sometimes the academic library hiring process can take a little while, and I'm hoping to have a professional level job immediately after graduation if not before it. Of course, this all depends on jobs available and all that jazz. I have been lucky enough to get a few interview opportunities for professional jobs this semester, and the hiring/application process for academic librarian jobs is quite different compared to what I experienced as a nurse or as a library student. Sometimes it involves 2 interviews- one with just a search committee, and then if you're invited back, a longer interview day with more library staff. Sometimes it's just one interview. Often, for the longer interview day, you're also required to present on a topic assigned by the search committee.


So, yes, I know that having multiple presentations you have to do in every library class can be frustrating, but it also is totally worth it. Public speaking is tough, at least for me, and the only thing that makes it better is having to do it over and over again. So, thank you all you instructors out there who've made me give presentations in front of classes.


The longer interview day also usually consist of a tour, meeting with library departments where they may ask you questions, and a meeting with HR. Each interview day has been a bit different organization wise, of course, but a lot of them had all these main elements. What a difference from my nursing interviews that involved meeting one on one with the nurse manager and then maybe a quick tour! I think it's evidence, though, of the nature of academic librarianship. Libraries seem willing to really invest in their employees and there's a lot of internal (library departments) and external (other academic departments/people) collaboration. I won't lie, these type of interviews have been a bit more stressful for me than the ones from my prior career, but I just remind myself that nervousness and excitement involve nearly identical physiological responses. So, it's all in your frame of mind. So I'm telling myself "hey, you're not nervous, you're excited you rock star you!!!"


Good luck to all as they are applying and interviewing. If you're a SLIS West student- there's also going to be some events coming up in a Spring 2017 Career Series Panel: Nuts & Bolts of Library Resumes and Cover Letters on February 25 and a panel discussion with library directors and managers on April 8. See ya there!
~Manda


PS: This week's Terry Pratchett quote:


The Library didn't only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to their shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren't also dangerous, just because reading them didn't make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader's brain.
-TP, Soul Music

Getting a Job | Jobs | Real World | Students


Hands-On Archival Experience

As an online student, I almost felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw that school would be cancelled in Boston on Thursday due to the imminent snow storm. But then I remembered that means I don't have to deal with the snow. Or the ice. Especially the ice--with an armful of books, I'm a walking disaster, and it's a rare moment that I am without an armful of books. Instead, I decided to gear up for internship season--with deadlines looming, I feel as though I am constantly sending emails to professors arranging for references when I'm not reading course material. Now that my Introduction to Archives course has begun, I have also been spending a significant amount of time at my internship location. I currently work at a non-archives job while attending school, so it has felt unbelievably amazing to get my hands on archival materials again. These materials belong to a public library whose archive contains a significant amount of local history materials. I am currently processing the personal papers of one local preservationist who was very active in the community spreading awareness of the unique history and architecture in the city where I live. Looking through her papers has given me an opportunity to get to know my city better, and I am constantly sending local friends images from this collection (with permission, of course!). The collection has also spurred several ideas for potential collaboration between the library and local schools--the individual's papers feature a significant amount of educational material related to local history that could potentially be used to provide students with insight on their city. Additionally, the archive has a lot of primary source material that can be easily duplicated or viewed and used as topics of study in courses covering local history. Suffice to say, nobody can call this collection monotonous--I am constantly pleasantly surprised by some of the things that I've found.  

Archives | Classes | Fun | Internships | New England | Online | SLIS


I Chose Simmons SLIS Online

It's a bit surreal to think that last year around this time, I had just submitted my applications for various library schools around the country. I was still torn between whether I wanted to attend an online or in-person program, but I knew that I wanted a high quality education to enable me to be a contributing and active member of the archival profession. I also wanted to be part of a cohort of students that was thoughtful and engaged in their approach to their education and would take a proactive approach in becoming competent and capable professionals. As you can tell, I chose Simmons. Recent events served to solidify my decision that I made the right choice.

Watching Simmons students take an active role in archiving materials created by the Women's March on Washington only served to cement my decision--this was not a group of individuals pursuing this degree in an apathetic way. These were people who wanted to make a genuine change in the profession, and who I would get to grow with as a cohort and discuss ideas with in class.

As an online student at Simmons, I receive exactly the same experience that I would were my classes in-person. The primary difference is that I can complete courses according to how I learn best, and not be concerned with how I can schedule classes around my job. I find that my ability to participate in discussion is greatly enhanced in an online format. Rather than verbally discussing ideas that are often immature, I have the opportunity to carefully consider my thoughts and increase my understanding of the subject. One consequence is that I can then discuss these ideas with prominent scholars on the faculty at Simmons, and further learn from these dialogues. 

Archives | Online | People | Students


FRBR is dead, long live FRBR!

Okay, this post won't really be about IFLA LRM, the model that will be replacing FRBR LRM/FRBR/FRAD/FRSAD, but I couldn't resist putting a little nod to it as the title of this week's blog post. Those who heard news from ALA Midwinter regarding FRBR and the conceptual model IFLA LRM might think it's funny, and so that title was for you, kids. Though it's not going to be called FRBR anymore, and it certainly is not FRBR- there's a lot of similarities with FRBR in the IFLA LRM- so never fear, peasants. There is still a lord in the land of understanding the bibliographic universe.

Okay, so for you non-cataloging enthusiasts out there, hello! and back to reality and "normal" English we go...
We're in our second week of classes for the semester. I have one (descriptive cataloging, hence the above little intro) on Wednesdays, and one on Saturdays. Both are on topics that I'm super excited about and that are really applicable to my current job as a metadata intern, so I'm pretty stoked this semester. My Saturday class is digital libraries. Both classes, however, also seem a bit like camping, in that they are intense. (in tents, intense, get it?) So, you might see some weird or stressed out blog posts from me this semester. SLIS West had a nice first day of classes last week with LISSA West hosting a yummy lunch in the SLIS West Office. This week I'm reading like a mother goose and I'm working on mapping out the dissected pieces of an information resource. Sound like fun? You should totally go to library school then.

I'll have lots more to write about next week, but that's pretty much all I got right now. Like I said, my hours are filled up with reading when I'm not working, so there's a little glimpse (snippet) at the life of a student, for you. I'm also still trying to spend time working out, meditating, cooking, and advocating for refugees. So, you may get a future post from me about libraries & refugees. and/or libraries & cooking and libraries & exercise and libraries & mindfulness, ha- those would be fun too.

Have a good weekend, all.

PS: I'm going to start ending every blog post with a Terry Pratchett quote, because I am still an avid fiction reader when not reading about cataloging and digital libraries, and mostly because I totally love the Great TP's work. So let's begin with:

"Someone out there was about to find that their worst nightmare was a maddened Librarian. With a badge."
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

Classes | Conferences | Presentations | SLIS


"SLIS Wester"

PS (presript in this case rather than post): I like the term SLIS Wester. SLIS Westerner would of course be more technically appropriate if you're uptight about prescriptive language. I'm not sure if anyone else uses either of these terms- so if you decide to start going around being like "hey, SLIS Westers, let's go party!" and get only blank stares, don't say I didn't warn you.

Welp, the winter break is coming to a close. I've started my pre-class reading for the course that required it, but mostly this weekend has been about lounging around and working on fun little projects- taking advantage of my last weekend without class or homework for a while. Recently, I had someone ask me about being a SLIS West student compared to being a Simmons Boston student, and I figured- hey! why not make this explanation a blog post too. Now, of course the problem with trying to answer "what is it like to be a SLIS West student?" is that it's like asking someone "what's is it like to be a student?" or to get real broad on ya, "what is it like to be a human?" My perspective and experience is not going to be an accurate representation of all SLIS Westers, cause I'm just me. Nevertheless, I'll speak about what it's like for me.

SLIS West has been a great choice for LIS school for me. I'm in this area with my hubby while he gets his doctorate. We moved around the country for a while based on life goals for each one of us- and coming here and staying here for the time it takes for him to finish school was a joint decision. We'll be in this area (Western Mass) for about 6 years or so most likely- and we bought a house last year. So, up and moving to Boston wasn't really an option. I know a lot of SLIS Westers have careers and children and partners and equally can't really move to Boston for school. Plus, tbh, I've lived in Boston often the last 10 years or so and it's not really my fave place to live. If we were just moving somewhere for my school and SLIS West didn't exist- I probably would have ended up at a different school. I could commute to Boston and be a Simmons Boston student- and indeed I'm taking one in Boston this semester, but having SLIS West as a campus is nice for more than just avoiding that commute and the crazy price of parking in beantown.

There's a nice sense of the SLIS West community out here because there's only 70 or so of us compared to, I don't know, thousands of SLIS students at Simmons Boston. Folks do drive from all over, so it's not always easy to coordinate hang outs- but if I wanted the live-near-campus-and-have-most-my-other-students-near-me feel I wouldn't have picked SLIS West. It is nice, though, that I feel like I know a lot of my fellow students and LIS students are generally pretty swell peeps. We have pretty small class sizes and really get that whole shared & participatory learning experience that I dig. Our professors are mostly adjuncts with full time librarian or archivist jobs at nearby institutions- so they have lots of practical experience and can help you network in the area. We have classes on Mount Holyoke's campus, which is gorgeous. It's kind of an interesting feeling- I mean it's not really our campus, but it also is. I take advantage of this and use their library, campus center, and chapel often (it's great for meditating). We do have borrowing privileges through their library (not for eresources, though) and through Simmons (like all Simmons students). You can't really sign up for MHC library classes and workshops like you could if you were a Boston student with Beatley, but being able to use that library is super nice, and the staff is helpful and friendly. We do have some workshops here hosted by the office or LISSA West too- mostly speakers working in the surrounding area telling us about a typical work week for them. Also, of course we can access all the tutorials and what not online and contact our Simmons librarian via email. We've got a SLIS West office with computers, printers, scanners, and the like. That's where I do a lot of my homework since the course reserves are there. Plus- I'm the office assistant and that's where I do my work work for SLIS West. Of course, I'm a LIS student- so I also study at my public library and other college libraries in the area bc I love libraries.

Overall, the best things for me about SLIS West have been:

1. It's a part time program- so I can have all the internships and jobs I've had and still be able to attend school since classes are primarily on Saturdays and Thursday nights.

2. I can get face-to-face classes without always having to drive to Boston. South Hadley (where classes are) is only 40 mins away from me- and the parking is free. I'm not a big online class person, though I have taken some online courses in this program. Getting to have face to face as an option that's not to far away is pretty splendid.

3. I really like the community- my co-students, SLIS West admin, the faculty coming out to teach us from Boston, and all our awesome SLIS West adjuncts. I also really like the non specifically SLIS West community/area- the surrounding public library network, the 5 colleges, the pretty woods, and the people.

If you're looking for a similar experience to what you may have had in undergrad if you went to a 4 year school and lived on campus- SLIS West probably isn't for you. Everyone commutes. Most folks have work and families. Many students are career changers. You have lots of resources- but it's not exactly the same as living in Boston and being right near the main Simmons campus. It's been wonderful for me and for my current situation in life, though. If you're struggling to decide between Simmons online, Simmons Boston, or Simmons LIS West- feel free to reach out to me and I can surely talk your ear off some more. There's information sessions for all options too, I think- definitely at least for Boston and West. And whatever you end up deciding, you're allowed to change your mind and you can take any Simmons course as a Simmons student (so for instance I'm SLIS West but I'm taking a Boston course and I've taken online in the past too).

Alright, let's get this (final) semester started. Hasta pronto, friends.

Classes | SLIS West | Students


Preparing For Next Semester

It feels incredibly strange to not have any classes for the rest of the year--even though I took a year off between undergraduate and graduate school, I still feel a bit lost when I'm not doing some sort of course reading or conducting research. In preparation for next semester, I decided to take a close look at the syllabi for the courses I am taking in the spring. Because I'm in the Archives Management concentration, and I've decided to try and focus on the digital aspect of archives, I enrolled in Introduction to Archival Methods and Services, Digital Stewardship, and Metadata. Since the first course includes a sixty hour internship, this means I'll have a pretty intense semester, to say the least!

However, I am excited to work with some of the special collections in my area (Wheeling, WV) which are frequently under utilized and would benefit immensely from a student intern. I'm also exploring some potential projects that I can complete over the summer term--there are excellent local history resources that are rife with possibilities for exhibition, research, partnership, organization, or digitization. Suffice to say, my winter break will not be a lazy one!

Archives | Classes | Internships | Online | SLIS


NECode4Lib

Howdy fellow interwebs browsers! This week I wanted to talk about the NECode4Lib event on 12/5. So, NECode4Lib was a fun and informative informal conference organized by librarians from around New England (with special attention to Johanna Radding, former SLIS West program manager, and Abby Baines, current SLIS West prof, who did a lot of the work!). It was held in the Red Barn at Hampshire which is beautiful, especially with sparkling snow on the ground outside. Talks included a range of topics. For a full list, visit here: https://wiki.code4lib.org/NECode4lib_2016. I think some of the slides will be going up soon too. 

Librarians are so great at collaborating and sharing information (duh on that last one I guess). I love that I'm in a profession now where there are often conferences like this one- and ones bigger and smaller than this. It's such a great way to meet people and learn about what other folks are doing. I especially enjoyed a lightening talk on lightening talks by a couple folks at MIT because they talked about how their department does a monthly lightening talks meeting. What a great idea! You could get a quick glance at what your colleagues are doing without getting deep in the weeds, and then everyone has a better idea of the holistic picture of the library. There were a lot of great talks yesterday at the conference, and I'm looking forward to learning more about some new to me concepts and techniques for work and non-work. And- I'm totally going to start using Habitica (https://habitica.com/static/front). Plus, I learned some fun ways to present- for instance Ian Walls from UMass did his presentation in story format- making a teachable moment from his work into a story about a young wizard with computing powers :) 

I gave a lightening talk (5 mins) too, on Twine- an open source tool I just started using. If you loved choose your own adventure games growing up and want to make something similar online, this site is for you. Check it here: http://twinery.org/. I used it to make a plagiarism game and the first draft of a SLIS West virtual orientation. The plagiarism game is here: http://web.simmons.edu/~pizzollo/Games/Code%20of%20Honor%20(6).html. The other I'll hold off on showcasing until it's a little further developed, but I got the idea from Smith College Libraries who has one here: https://libtools.smith.edu/twine/. Rose, the librarian who created that tour was also there yesterday so that was really helpful when folks had questions about Twine (since I'm still new to it myself). MHC is working on a virtual tour using Twine too, so woot! 

Oky doke, well that was fun. Now back to my last final of the semester! 

Stay warm, friends. 

~Manda

Events


A Day in the Life

9:30 AM: Drive to the public library archives to look at some materials for my LIS 415 final project. Discuss with the librarian how they organize their online archives, and whether the initial proposals my group has suggested are acceptable. Talk about my progress on my LIS 407 final project, and discuss with her the audience and whether my analysis of local history sources is of an appropriate breadth and depth based on her experience with the user population.

10:45 AM: Acquire coffee and French pastries!

11:00 AM: Go into my actual job. A chocolate croissant gets me through the first hour. The remaining eight are survived through a combination of coffee and tea to fend off the cold office air.

3:00 PM: Lunch. Go back to the library because I forgot to grab my book that has been on hold since Monday.

??:?? PM: Sporadically edit and compile the group parts of the LIS 415 final project. Start creating slides for our presentation.

8:00 PM: Leave work to walk home, relish the fact that it's a nice 45 degrees outside.

10:30 PM: Decide to stop working on my LIS 407 and 415 projects for the night.

??:?? : Watch Netflix and until a time that I'm not comfortable sharing. Go to sleep. Repeat, with some variety on the exact assignments worked on.

Classes | Libraries | Online | SLIS | Students


The Week Before Finals

'Tis the week before finals, and all through the land
SLIS students are scurrying to finish up plans.
Slides, lesson plans, websites galore!
We finish up presentations that we hope the teach will adore.
We tidy up projects and put citations in papers
As the weather turns ready for frost and scrapers.

So forgive the silent blog, dear fans, as we put on our thinking caps;
When really our brains are ready for long winter's naps.
You'll hear from us again soon, with good tidings and cheer.
For after 12/10 will be finished with half of this school year!

We'll take long breaks or graduate,
and play and work, work, work
To make use of the break.
You'll see us in society again, and we won't just lurk.
We'll have lives again - at least for a month.
So bear with us, dear fans, as we finish up this crunch!

Finals | Fun | SLIS | SLIS West | Students


Applying Coursework in Libraries

Before starting my program, I made a commitment to try and use course assignments to assist local institutions in some way. I wanted my library school experience to be grounded in practice, rather than theory. Even though I am only in my first semester, I have been able to use my intro courses to create resources for my local public library, benefiting both the library and their patrons. This is in addition to creating distinct deliverables for my personal portfolio, and giving me experience in working with libraries as "clients" who expect a polished final product.

So far, I have organized a group project to create a metadata standard for the small collection of digitized historical images help at my local library, created a pathfinder to assist local history researchers in researching their historic properties, and I'm already planning other potential projects with local universities that have archival institutions and connecting their resources with students through local history projects. Because I live in West Virginia, in an area that has a fairly low population of library and information science professionals, I have the chance to use something like attending school to begin implementing change at an early stage. 

Students


Stress Management

This semester's taken a turn for the rough and stressful these past few weeks, and we're looking Thanksgiving break in the face. Thankfully, my management professor has us each prevent in groups on a specific topic--this week, my partner and I were the ones presenting on Conflict Resolution and Stress Management. While we had a specific focus on how managers can help reduce stress in the workplace, I think that as we are running into the last couple weeks of school we can all use a fast refresher on how to manage stress.

  • Take deep breaths
  • Exercise, if you have time! Drink enough water! Get enough sleep!
  • Make a plan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tDWAYIXm1k) so you don't stress out chaotically.
  • Talk it out. If you need someone to talk to, my friends and I have always had great luck walking into the student lounge and announcing our problems to whoever is in there. Librarians love to talk.
  • Try coloring or popping bubble wrap to calm down.
  • Watch some funny videos or find some other way to have a laugh.
  • Meditate! It's always a great idea to meditate to remove yourself from the stress and situation.

Over break, try to get ahead, and remember that if you need someone to talk to, Simmons does have counselors on staff and you should always reach out to your professors. Most of the time, they are willing to work with you to help you do well in their classes.

Still--try to take a little bit of a break over Thanksgiving and come back refreshed to tackle the last few weeks!


AAOTP (Acronyms All Over the Place)

I was in healthcare, then I was specifically a nurse working for a state government, and now I'm a librarian. Oh, acronyms & nomenclature. I guess they abound in every profession, but between government, medicine, librarianship, and texting/social media lingo- I feel very acronymical in life. I thought I'd share some good ones for new students to know here: 

  • SLIS: School of Library & Information Science
    (So, we used to be GSLIS- graduate school of library & information science, and you'll hear that still being used a lot. We've been SLIS, though, ever since I started. Some people say it as S LIS, some as SLIS. We'll see what happens in the long run I suppose). 
  • LIS: Library & Information Science 
  • AARC: Academic & Administrative Resource Center 
    (that connection thing online where you can see your classes, register, access Simmons email, and what not). 
  • MHC: Mount Holyoke College
    (We use this as SLIS West students a lot since our classes are on MHC's campus)
  • LITS: Library & Technology Services 
    (Mount Holyoke's Library- again good for SLIS West students to know). 
  • LISSA: Library Information Sciences Student Association
  • SAA: Society of American Archivists
  • ACRL: Association of College & Research Libraries
  • ALA: American Library Association
  • ILL: Inter-library loan

There are a ton more, but y'all get the picture. We like acronyms. Also, ALA has this if you want to browse some more: http://www.ala.org/tools/library-related-acronyms-and-initialisms 

Now, for funsies, here's one time of many when acronyms led to confusion in my life: 

OCP: For me this meant oral contraceptive pills in 2009 when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because I had been nurse right beforehand. For my hiking buddy- this mean oatmeal cream pies (from Little Debbie), which he ate all the time. I realized pretty quickly that he was not referring to what I thought of as OCP, but it was still hilarious. 

As much as I find it useful to get to know these acronyms and library lingo in general, I also think it's good to try and use plain speak as much as possible. Even if you're talking to another library student, you never know how much of the nomenclature has been cemented yet. I was certainly intimidated and confused at first when I started school and was trying to get all the jargon and acronyms after only having experience as a public library volunteer prior to starting at Simmons. Plus, it's good to get the habit of plain speak for our patrons because I think everybody can always use a bit more clarity and simplicity in life.

Enjoy the break everybody! 

SLIS


An Event-filled Semester

If I'm not wrong, then this semester has been stressful and crazy for everyone I've talked to, and I'm definitely trapped in that cycle so I've been a little MIA for this blog. I'm definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving break!

However, the student leaders and associations have been hard at work creating and promoting events to cut the tension of the semester. Most recently, we've had large potluck thanksgiving event, with just about fifty people in attendance, followed by an "Illuminated Manuscript Crawl" hosted by SCOSAA and Panopticon. Besides being well attended, these events were amazingly fun and great ways for students to connect with each other. Panopticon has had a lot of great events, including hosting a SLIS art show, with at least a dozen submissions. They even had a wonderful opening on Veteran's day which was packed. LISSA partnered with them to host a Drink and Draw to cut the tension of the semester at the end of October and the art created at that even was brought to the Art Show.

PLG has also had some really great events, including their Prison Book Program (there's one day left in the semester to attend, on December 3rd!), and has been committed to their mission and goals. Their partnership with DERAIL remains strong and submissions are open to help address major Social Justice issues in LIS.

SLA has also been highly active, hosting a LinkedIntro event and will be hosting their annual ResumeX just after break. SLA has a great career focus and provides and produces strong events to help students reach their aspirations.

Of course, there are many more events that I didn't get to attend, but with so many different groups, it's easy to feel included. I've always loved the community created by SLIS, and the events this semester have been amazing. And, don't worry--LISSA has one last huge party planned for the end of the semester on December 9th. The dress code is cocktail attire suggested, but the main suggestion is that you attend! We can't wait to see everyone turn out!

SLIS


Out with the Old, in with the New

In January I left my last nursing job so that I could better pursue a position in the wonderful world of librarianship. When I did so, my partner and I sat down and talked about how to make that decision work economically. He's in grad school getting his doctorate in science, so he gets paid through that. It's a pretty fixed amount, and not something that would keep us easily afloat for long without me working as well. Especially since I went to Nurse Practitioner grad school for a year, and I'm still paying off those loans, plus now I'm gathering more debt from LIS school, and we bought a house last year. We've both spent years saving up for all of this, but still. So, we sat down and thought of the lowest priorities for spending and how and where to cut corners. We ate a lot of rice and beans until I starting get more jobs, and we cut our cell phone plans. Now- we still had cell phones because we'd paid those off quite a while ago- but we started using them for internet only, got a pay by the minute plan, and kept them on airplane mode at all times. Last month or the month before, I got really into a fanfiction story I was reading on my phone and so I took it in the bathroom with me since I just didn't want to stop reading it for a minute. You can likely guess the rest. My phone is no longer with us. I shorted it out by dropping it in water. So, now for a little while I've also been living without my handy little portable computer.

The phone thing, though, is what really got people. Most folks just did not understand why it was tough to contact me, or completely balked when I said I didn't have a cell phone. I have Google Voice (free service) so I can still text with my family and get adorable pictures of my nieces, don't worry. And- I do have a landline. It's not like I've gone off the grid and I'm wandering the forests of the Yukon, here, I just didn't have a mobile phone. The more people were weird about it, too, the more I wanted to keep not having a phone. Like- yes, doctor's office, you may have to find a work around here- no I can't just call you back whenever. I thought about some of my WIC clients in the past too and all the rigmarole you have to go to in order to stay on government assisted programs. Systems can be real rigid sometimes, y'all. This week I really needed to make a call when I was on a college campus, and- guess what- no more public access or pay phones on that campus! (thank you college librarian who helped me confirm this was true rather than my continued trek to every building on campus).

So, all this reminded me of why public libraries still sometimes have fax machines (really important, actually) and VHS movies and cassette tapes. It also reminded me of a correctional facility library I visited with my LIS 422 class. Incarcerated individuals can't have access to the internet without supervision usually, if at all. The library we went to had typewriters for the inmates to use for typing, but no computers other than one behind the desk (I think I'm remembering the numbers right, here). They were struggling with the typewriters because manufacturers are no longer making some of the replacement parts since it's an ever shrinking population of users. (typewriter attachments to fancy devices- not the same). People who were incarcerated are getting out of prisons and sometimes have no experience using a mouse or a computer. Have y'all tried to apply for a job without getting online lately? I thought about the cassette tapes I made when I was a kid and how I recently scoured the land for a cassette player to use in digitizing these. 

My lack of a cell phone and the little internet and camera device it also was, got me thinking about the digital divide, what happens to those dependent on "old" tech as a consumer majority switches to the new, and what happens to information held in an obsolete format. All of these questions, highlight the value and responsibility of our profession and libraries and archives to me. Feel free to use this as fuel in your "why do we still need libraries?" responses, I certainly will. 

Classes | Libraries | SLIS | Students | Technology


Advising -- Should I Take An Internship Course

One thing I was extremely surprised to note when I started my program online at Simmons was just how approachable the professors were--they responded quickly to any of my requests to speak with them, and were very open to talking on the phone with me about any questions I might have. Recently, I was required to turn in my tentative planning statement for my program of study, but I wanted to talk with adviser to make sure that the schedule I was picking was feasible given the planned courses for the next year and a half, and would be a viable match for my future career interests. She happily set up a time to talk later in the week, and I had a really productive conversation with her about required courses, and whether an internship would be beneficial to me.

Because I have a lot of library experience, it never occurred to me that an internship for course credit was not something I should do while I am in school. I already volunteer at several library and local historical organizations, so why should I take a class to facilitate these already existing relationships? This was when I realized that a formal internship would allow me to develop a portfolio of my work, and create a more official partnership with these organizations, emphasizing completing a finished product instead of assisting them in their usual work. While the latter is also valuable, being able to say that I gave the institution a final product which they can use is an immensely important learning experience that benefits me and the institution I am assisting. Since I am not based out of a large city, this provides especially crucial professional documents and assistance to local organizations who may be unable to pay for such consultation normally. Thanks to a conversation with my adviser, I was able to totally change my view. Now, I'm excited and brainstorming potential projects that can benefit me, and help local organizations as well!

 

Classes | Internships | Online | SLIS | Students


Pleasant Suprises

Whew! Busy week with a couple penultimate assignments and a presentation in my classes, plus attempts to get back in shape and return to meditating daily. It seems as though my new year resolution phase has kicked in a bit early. Or maybe I'm just excited for cookie season. 

So, I thought this week I might share a bit some of my pleasant surprises from my role as a metadata intern. When I started library school, I honestly didn't really have an intention of becoming an information organizer to the extent of a metadata creator or cataloger. I found I really like my 415 class though (information organization), and suddenly I was considering resource description as a potential career. A piece of me thought I was just getting excited about something new to me, not really finding a new career path. So, I looked in other directions course and internship-wise for a while. Yet, the allure of info org has been too strong my friends -- and it has remained a consistent presence for me and not just a passing fancy. Hence the metadata internship which I abso-freakin-lutely love. I'm also excited to be taking both descriptive cataloging and digital libraries next year. Wohoo! This is the most excited I've been about my class line up since I started school. 
I've gotten off the rails a bit, though, haven't I? It's not surprising that I love my internship because I do love metadata and digital repositories. And- I love that librarianship lets me be descriptive instead of prescriptive (different than some of my previous nursing roles.) What has surprised me from this internship is how much I love the stories I'm learning! So- quick background info- my mom is my role-model, and in a lot of ways we're very similar in what we like and how we behave. One thing that I could never relate to, though, is how much my mom likes People magazine. I know, it seems like such a small thing to point out- but it really confused me for a long time because it just seemed so out there. I mean, we like soooo much of the same stuff and I just could not get this whole People magazine thing. When my roommates back in undergrad would watch reality shows, they would have to ban me from the den because I would yell at the shows so much that they just couldn't take it. I'm just not in to all that people drama, and it took me a long time to understand why my mom would read that magazine and my friends would watch those shows. A few years ago, I figured it out. My mom loves people (small p now). She loves them so much that she is interested to read about the lives of people she doesn't even know. Their little daily life stuff even. Like I said, I finally figured this out a few years ago, but I still couldn't relate. Until I started making metadata records at the item level for archival materials. 
I started with a folder of letters from one woman to a another woman, her friend. They corresponded over years. I knew what would be interesting to scholars researching these letters would be any mentions of the publishing and editing side of things (one of the women was involved in getting a famous poet's works published). What I couldn't help falling in love with, though, was all the little daily life stuff and affectionate terms between these two women. It was and is so fun! I love the describing piece of things, and I knew I would, but I didn't realize how much I would come to love and become attached to the material I was describing. I've even started writing letters to my friends and some of my phrasing is definitely borrowed from the era of these two women. I also get to do a lot of investigating to try and figure out context. It's like I'm a shamus y'all! (I've also be re-watching Bored to Death for the 10th time). So yup, I love my job, and I'm totally that doe-eyed noobie with rose-tinted glasses, but use what you got right? I still don't expect to start reading People magazine, but the good news is that my momma also loves hearing about the stories I'm learning. So we have that to share now. 
Alright, until next week amigos. 
With hopes for a great week for all, 
Believe me, 
Manda 
PS: that whole "believe me" thing is how a lot of folks used to end letters, apparently. 
PPS: also, my undergrad school- Clemson is still undefeated at football this season. Go Tigers! 

Classes | Internships | Jobs | People | SLIS West | Students


Being An Online SLIS Student

Like many people, I was initially really skeptical about getting my Master's degree online. I wasn't sure if the classes would be as difficult as in-person courses, and I wanted to make sure I got the best possible experience that would leave me prepared to actively contribute to the field. Little did I know, I didn't need to worry!

Even though I'm only in my first semester, I already get to collaborate with other students working in hugely diverse geographic areas and types of libraries. It sounds really impressive when you can tell your friends you're having a group meeting with people in West Virginia, California, and Connecticut!

In addition to giving me experience collaborating with others in a national setting, the online experience gives me a chance to practice networking with individuals in other institutions the same way I will in my eventual professional career. My advisers and professors are readily accessible and very responsive to questions, and have office hours that are accessible to online and in-person students.

Plus, I get to avoid all of that Boston snow, and go to class in my PJs without shame! It's the little things. 

Classes | Online | SLIS | Students


Subjects, Categories, & Classifications in LIS

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a panel discussion called Contested Subjects: The Politics of Library Classification at Amherst College. The speakers were Emily Drabinski (on whom I have a professional crush), Kelsy Shepherd, Alana Kubmier, and John DeSantis. They were all fantastic panelists, and I would highly recommend viewing the discussion once the recording is available. It's going to be posted on their Facebook page when it's ready. 

The topic was that the library, particularly the library catalog, is never really a neutral space. The panel started with John DeSantis, a librarian at Dartmouth with an insider's perspective, talking about the recent "illegal alien" Library of Congress subject heading controversy. For those of you who don't know, a group of students at Dartmouth started the movement to change the "illegal alien" subject heading. After the initial rejection by the Library of Congress, more people began to weigh in and advocate for a change in terminology. A new proposal with the additional changes was proposed, and some politicians soon became involved, a few even spoke out against the changes.  

It was really interesting to hear Mr. DeSantis' perspective of the conflict and his detailed view of the controversy. Personally, I found one of the most interesting things about this controversy is when people are surprised at how much hubbub came out of it. I've heard several folks be surprised about the politicians' involvement for instance, remarking on how strange it was to have everybody all up in the library world's business over a subject heading. (Although not in those exact words. "All up in my business" is one of my fave phrases so that's how I'm paraphrasing)

Certainly a lot of the politicians' involvement was just politic-y positioning, but there is something here to think on. There was such a big hubbub because subject headings are kind of a big deal. Do we (librarians, catalogers, decision-makers) only reflect the culture of the day in the subject headings designations, or are we influencing that culture? Of course, this is not a new debate in the library world. But, it's something I'm thinking about a lot right now, especially because I was already thinking about labels in general right around the time I started library school.

From my meager, one-person perspective, it seems as though there's a lot of labels happening right now. You know how culture/society seems to kind of go by pendulum swings? For example, "I love kale!" and so people respond with: "Kale sucks, bacon for life!!" but on a grander and more historical movement kind of scale. This might also have to do with me moving out of the South, moving around the country and then being in New England for a while, but a few years ago I started interacting more with labels. I remember the first time I learned words like demiromantic, pansexual, and non-binary. It felt so awesome. I felt like the world had opened up a bit, like I now had words I could use to really describe certain things about me, in easy ways that other people could quickly understand (or at least look up on their smart phone and then understand). Plus, it gave me a little sense of community. If these words exist, then there are other people who want to use them to describe their stuff; I'm not alone! 

I enjoy thinking about subject headings this way too- because just as with the labels I mentioned above- they're there to describe things, and on a big aboutness concept level. These descriptions help other people understand what they're about- they communicate that aboutness. And they collocate things- just like I felt like there was a community of like folks out there for me when I first discovered some new-to-me labels. 

Glory, glory halleluiah labels! Exceeepppttt....

After I embraced certain personal labels - I had my own little pendulum swing of response. Maybe I don't want to be stuck in that label. Maybe I don't want you thinking you know me just because you know a little bit about my sexuality. Maybe I want to change. Maybe I don't want to fit in a little box with a label because I'm a whole person. Maybe I don't want you assuming things about me based on a word.

I've gone back and forth a lot about labels in general. The thing is we do need categories in life to function in society, and we do need subject headings in our catalog (if you disagree, that's a whole other debate that would be fun to have sometime). They have purpose and often they make things a lot easier. Yet, they are social constructs. The problem is not always with the labels, but with the assumptions people make based on labels and with the value that we apply socially to things that are in truth arbitrary. 

So, if you were expecting me to reach some conclusion in this post or provide all the answers- sorry folks. I'm a newbie at this stuff, and as you can probably tell at this point, I'm the type of person who will debate with herself until the cows come home.  The good news is that a lot of awesome librarians and also awesome non-librarians have been talking about the topic for a long time. The only conclusions I've come to are that subject headings do matter, they matter to more than just librarians, and they should matter to more than just librarians. Money is just a social construct too, but it matters quite a lot to folks. So, let's keep the conversation going and support movements like the one the Dartmouth students started to evaluate subject headings, even if it is a big pain in the rump to make changes. 

 

Oh and PS, It's Halloween time, and I love Halloween. So here's some pics of my last few Halloween costumes: 

 Pizzollo_10-31.png

 Can you tell I like wordplay?

Students


Introducing -- Amanda Pizzollo -- A New Blogger for Simmons SLIS

So, I'm coming up on my 10 year nurse-a-versary. Yup, it's almost been 10 years since I took my boards and got my first job as a nurse. What? Oh, this is a blog about librarianing you say?
I know, I know. I'm getting there. I've been getting, there, in fact, since I started training to be a nurse. Well, getting here that is, and by here I mean the library world. I loved nursing, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't what I would have chosen in college if it weren't for outside pressures and a certain measure of indecisiveness. Don't worry, I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not. I don't think. Well, maybeeee...
No really. I'm very sure about this whole library thing. But being a nurse is still a big part of my life, and a big part of who I am. As much as I try not to, I somehow end up telling people in library school that I'm also a nurse within about 2 minutes of conversation. It's just automatic. Unfortunately, the response from that person is also pretty automatic. It's known as (to me only, mind you) the question. You probably guessed it, but the question, is along the lines of: "so, why did you want stop being a nurse and be a librarian instead?"
In response to the question, I'll usually proceed to fumble out something nonsensical. I will either give them way too much info, or way too little. But, today, I finally figured out how to respond. Let's look back:
      Me: "blah, blah, blah, I was a nurse!"
      Other library person I'm meeting at school for the first time: "the question"
      Me: *light shines down upon me from the sky in a moment of transcendent clarity* 
      "Well, have you ever had a romantic relationship where you broke up with someone even though they're really nice to you and you like them as a friend?" 
      Other person: "No." 
      Me:"Oh. Well, anyway,, uh..." *brings forth normal weird, clumsy response*
 
Yea, so that was a disaster, but for a minute I really thought I had it figured out. Anyway, there's lots of reasons I'm a career changer, but there's not one really clear, easy reason to lay out during small talk. Mostly- it's just a feeling thing. Lucky for me, though, I didn't have to tell nursing I wanted to "just be friends." That would have been totally awkward. 

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