Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Starting Strong and Staying Strong

A little over a month into my first semester of grad school and, oh boy, what a whirlwind! From really nailing down my commute in from Brighton, (never thought I'd be team bus over T) to learning how to layer (someone please teach how to scarf) so as not to over heat during said commute, these past weeks have been quite the experience. But enough about my struggles over the weather, let's talk classes.

For my first semester, I chose to take the 3 core courses to get them out of the way before the snow hits too hard and I lose all motivation to leave my bed. This means that I'm enrolled in 407-Information Sources & Services, 415-Information Organization, and 488-Technology for Information Professionals. I was warned by my advisor before the semester that this course load would be tough with a lot of reading and a lot of assignments. Personally, I always feel more energetic and refreshed Fall semester since it's a new school year and you're coming off from ideally a relaxing summer. So with what my advisor said in mind I dived head first into my classes.

Now having a good number of weeks under my grad school belt, I can say that my advisor was most certainly right! These classes are very heavy on the reading and I have several assignments, some due on the same days! While this does lead to some very stressed out, over-caffeinated panics, it has also really helped me learn better time management skills and how scheduling every little thing you have to do makes a huge difference. I'm the type of person that needs visual reminders so I'm a huge advocate for getting yourself a whiteboard and loads of sticky notes (color coded obviously). Having all of my datelines visible every day can really help to conceptualize how you need to organize and prioritize all your work.

Another important thing I like to stress as well is that unfortunately, sometimes you won't be able to finish all the readings or write the award-worthy discussion post you wanted to, life can just get in the way sometimes. This doesn't have to completely derail you though! As cheesy as it sounds you just have to persevere, take it one day at a time if you need to, you are going to be okay! As someone returning to school after a few years off (feeling like I forgot a lot of the key skills required to study), this is definitely something I can never say often enough to myself.

 

SLIS | classes


Learning about Learning (or rather, metalearning)

I saw a mug in the bathroom at Mt. Holyoke on Saturday that said: "Anything you can do we can do meta" and I've been chuckling to myself ever since. You see, the prefix "meta-" is something I hadn't really encountered before I came to library school and now I can't seem to get away from it. Librarians love it (and we aren't the only ones).

I'm going to do you a solid today and tell you what meta means and then make up some words with it just for fun.

The Google dictionary defines meta as "denoting something of a higher or second-order kind" but I actually like this one from Urban Dictionary better: "Meta means about the thing itself. It's seeing the thing from a higher perspective instead of from within the thing, like being self-aware."

The example you'll encounter most frequently in library school is metadata, which is essentially data about data. Right now in User Instruction we've been reading about metacognition, which is thinking about your own thinking. And since this week's readings are about learning theory, I've decided to call this "metalearning," or learning about learning. (Turns out meta learning is a real thing. I just googled it.)

I actually quite like learning more about how learning works, and I've realized that you don't have to study learning theory to learn more about learning. In fact, pursuing higher education is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how you learn; all you have to do is pay attention, reflect, and experiment a little. When I'm learning something new, I've found that I need some time and space to explore it on my own terms before I fully "grasp" a concept. After I've got that initial footing, then discussing or exploring it with other people helps flesh it out further. Finally I've got to put my new knowledge into practice to cement the learning. It's an iterative and non-linear process.

Anyway, here are some more meta- words that I've just come up with for kicks and giggles:

Meta-journaling: journaling about journaling

Meta-anxiety: anxiety about your anxiety (ooh this one's handy!)

Meta-requirements: requirements about requirements

Meta-excited: excited about your excitement

Meta-planning: planning your planning (bullet journals, anyone?)

Meta-arguing: arguing about arguing

 

P.S. Welcome new blogger Katie!!!

Fun | Librarians | skills


Adding to the Team

Hello everyone! We'd like to introduce our second new student blogger --Maria Reilvoa! Here is her bio. Stay tuned for her first post...coming soon!

Welcome Maria!

Hello! My name Maria, I was born and raised in a small beach town on the east coast of Florida a little over an hour away from Orlando and yes we would take field trips to Disney growing up (also to Medieval Times, which is a personal favorite, it's basically a year-round Renaissance festival-Huzzah!). But I am trading in hurricanes for nor'easters and ready to brave the winter wearing ever article of clothing I own!

I am currently in my first semester at Simmons studying for my LIS degree with a concentration in cultural heritage informatics. My educational background is in Arts Administration and I love all things historical! Which is one of the reasons I wanted to attend Simmons in Boston. I'm eager to start exploring all the fun history Boston has to offer as well as all the great sights and eats (pastries from the north end, anyone?)!

When I'm not in class or working in the SLIS admissions office, I'm out exploring my neighborhood of Brighton to find the best coffee shop, chinese takeout, and 24-hour convenience store, which are all very important parts of the grad school lifestyle. I also love going into the city with my roomies to catch a movie, walk around Beacon Hill pointing out the cutest flower boxes, or just relaxing on the Boston Common, specifically to watch all the cute dogs.

 

 

 

SLIS


The Real Numbers for Moving to Boston

104 days to panic between graduation and move in

5 inquiries sent to potential roommates//landlords

4 rejections (some last minute)

1 perfect fit

10 pages of the world's longest packing list -- organized by room, and including a physical description of purchased objects

294.8 miles between home and home 2.0

1,000,000 anxious thoughts

2 red minivans packed to the brim, seats all folded down

4 hours and 58 minutes << the anticipated drive time

9 hours and 4 minutes << the actual drive time

1 crucial Dunkin' stop

1 high school friend I duped into riding to Boston with me (thanks Alex!!!)

1 lovely girlfriend of the high school friend I duped into riding to Boston with me >> who also happens to be a Boston local

1 rolled IKEA queen size mattress

3 sets of too small bed sheets, purchased in a confused panic

1 set of sheets that actually FIT the bed

1 amazing past and future roommate, flying in from Kentucky

1 committed and supremely organized mother

2 air mattresses, 1 sleeping bag, and 1 yoga mat >> because my home will always be a pseudo youth hostel

1 cousin of a family friend >> also new to Boston and also roped into assembling furniture

1 bright yellow Kallax shelf from IKEA

17,000 loose screws and pegs rolling around the floor

5 floor lamps >> because you can never have too much light!

1 twin size bed set, inherited from a beloved friend who couldn't fit them in her suitcase to go back home to the UK

4 towels to match the bed set inherited from the same beloved friend who couldn't fit them in her suitcase to go back home to the UK

1 set of green stackable drawers that are covered in stickers and stuck with me all throughout undergrad

1 beautiful table >> trash picked during the new (to me) phenomenon of Allston Christmas on September 1st

2 rolls of cucumber scented paper for lining the linen closet

1 collapsable "granny" cart, lovingly loaned to me by my actual grandmother, and perfect for hauling groceries

2 giant metal mixing bowls, because I might need to mix up two giant recipes at once!

1 more college friend, willing to sacrifice her Sunday to assemble a bed frame

3 attempts to PROPERLY assemble said bedframe

1 giant little brother, with newly purple hair

17,000 throw pillows, because I am, in fact, a pillow hoarder

8 moving boxes full of clothes, because I am, in fact, also a hoarder of clothing

1 father, sorely missed, attending a fantasy football draft >> (Don't worry, he appears later)

1 electric kettle, so I can get my tea fix

2 weekends required to move my life from New Jersey to Boston

1 U-haul, picked up in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

1 giant denim encased futon >> its intense size making the U-Haul necessary

1 set of saintly parents willing to drive said U-Haul to Massachusetts

2 bottle openers, because while we are grad students, we are still 22, and human

1 salad spinner, because it's the little things in life that make me happy

1 sword, purchased in Toledo, Spain, displayed proudly on the wall (don't ask)

2 legless lawn flamingos, named Flo & Mingo, one of which accompanied my mother through her college years in the 80s

1 4K television, because TV is literally my roommate's job, and we love our Jeopardy

1 gangly brother whose limbs could barely be contained in the U-Haul

5 under the bed boxes, because I am neither resourceful nor rich enough to find a dresser, and I need somewhere to put my 8 moving boxes worth of clothes

1 wildly expensive toll clocking in at $42.50 >> the cost of taking a U-Haul over the George Washington Bridge

20+ animal themed folders, because I've never been a fan of limiting my tastes based on age

1 boot tray, already set up by the door, because I know it won't be summer forever

 Finally being settled in my favorite city attending my dream program? - I can't assign numbers to how awesome it feels!   

SLIS


On Teaching

It is always with a slight swell of pride that I tell people my dad is a college English professor. I'm not completely sure why; perhaps it's because I see it as a noble profession. There's also the fact that he followed his passion into his field and I think that's what makes him so good at it. I've always wanted to emulate him in following my own passions, but I didn't necessarily think that would mean teaching. Now that my mom has her master's in teaching perhaps I should be wondering if teaching is in my blood.

This semester with User Instruction I feel like I'm finally learning something about the "family business." It may all be in the context of information literacy, but we're still learning basic principles of instructional design, pedagogy, reflective practice, outcomes assessment, and learning theories. We're also practicing our speaking and presenting skills. It's something you might not have expected to find at library school but it has broad and exciting applications.

On Saturday we had an assignment to give a 5-min teaching demo (with learning objectives) on any topic of our choice. It was like a variety show, with each of us showcasing various hobbies and interests while expressing our personalities through our instruction. Bringing authenticity into your teaching is a hallmark of the best teachers, according to several sources we've read. Being authentic makes you more interesting, memorable, and relatable to your students while ensuring that you are personally invested in the message you are trying to get across. Being authentic involves a degree of vulnerability and (what feels like) exposure in front of a room full of people, and I think it relies on some acceptance and comfort with who you are.

I love the idea of cultivating your own teaching identity and I think the whole process dovetails nicely with my personal philosophy of continual growth and improvement. All my life I've loved learning, and for most of my adult life I've been mildly obsessed with bettering myself through education, reading, experimentation, and trying new things. It seems a natural progression, then, to involve myself in a work devoted to the learning, growth, and improvement of others. I am excited (and a little afraid) to see where this journey takes me!

Classes | skills


A Fall Outing

I went on a wonderful fall outing this past week!  Ever since I moved to Massachusetts I've been working on trying to explore the area more.  I research things to do and places to visit online, I ask classmates and colleagues where to go, and sometimes I just stumble across places as I go about my day.  One thing that several people told me was that I couldn't go through a fall in New England without a trip to an apple orchard.  I've noticed that there is an abundance of apple orchards near where I live, and it feels like there are far more here than there were North Carolina.  This past week, I decided to take the advice that was given to me and I visited an apple orchard with my family.  We went to Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, MA.   At the farm it is currently apple and pumpkin picking season.  During other times of the year, you can pick other kinds of fruit such as strawberries (early June to early July), cherries (late June to mid-July), blueberries (early July to early September), peaches and nectarines (August to mid-September), and blackberries (early August to early September).  We came home with a pumpkin which is now sitting proudly on our front porch and a ton of apples.  Seriously, we have so many apples.  The last time I went to an apple orchard was for a field trip for school when I was very young and I just remember picking like one apple but when you go with less people, you have to pick more apples.  The farm also has a Farm Store, where you can buy baked goods such as pies and apple cider doughnuts.  We bought both pie and doughnuts, and both were gone fairly quickly.  They were so good.  I haven't had apple cider doughnuts in years.  The farm also had some animals like goats, pigs, and a llama.  They had a very interesting structure for the goats--they had a bridge for the goats that went up in the air, over the path for the human beings, and back down again into a different pen, so there could be a goat walking above you.  Even though we came for the apples, I must admit, I was kind of excited for the animals.  Living in a world of watching baby animal videos on Youtube, it is fun to see the animals in real life.  The people I spoke to were right- fall in New England is not complete without a visit to an apple orchard.  If you have a chance, you should visit one before fall is over!  I'll leave you with some pictures of my outing! If you want to learn more about Tougas Family Farm (the orchard I visited), click here.

Donuts_Callanan.jpgGoat_Callanan.jpggoatBridge_Callanan.jpgTougas_Callanan.jpg

Fun | New England | Relaxing | Weather


Welcome to a New Blogger!

Hello everyone! We'd like to introduce one of our two new student bloggers -- Katie Carlson! Please read a little about her below. You will see her first post very soon!

Welcome Katie!

My name is Katie Carlson, and I live in Brighton, with my best friend from undergrad. We loving refer to our apartment as the Bachelorette Pad, and spend our evenings cooking elaborate meals and watching 60 Minutes. While my zip code reads Brighton, my heart resides in New Jersey, where I spent the first 18 years of my life.

I attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA for undergrad, and received my degree in English and Art History. Seven sisters all the way!

I stumbled into the field of library science after my childhood best friend suggested I apply for an internship at our hometown's public library. Never had I ever looked forward to going into work every day -- until work was a library. I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep being that happy, so here I am! My aspirations for the future include working as a Reference and Outreach Librarian at a public library and ruling the world.

Talk to me about: Girl Scouts; professional wrestling; crafting; collaging; early 2000s pop punk music; feminist art; and cats.

Fun fact: I have been to 44 of the 50 states and hope to check them all off by the time I hit 30. Wish me luck!

SLIS | Students


So Much Critical Thinking

I was quite at a loss over what I should write for this week's blog post, so I decided to write about something that seems to be emerging as a common thread throughout my classes and even my personal life this semester and that is... critical thinking.

Bear with me.

I realize that the notion of "critical thinking" ought to be familiar to anyone who's been through any kind of formal education. I've literally spent years of my life looking at syllabi and assignments with "critical thinking" written all over them. Probably every teacher I've ever had has said something about critical thinking at some point, but I honestly don't know if any of them ever sat me down and told me exactly what it was, or how I was supposed to "think critically." As if it was something that I was expected to just pick up as a result of participating in class and doing assignments. (Apologies to any of my former teachers who are reading this thinking, "I definitely told her what critical thinking was!")

Fast forward to this semester, in which I feel like the true definition of critical thinking is finally dawning on me. Let's start with my archives class. The professor has established a pattern of asking us students lots of questions, questions that you might think would be easy to answer but turn out to be quite difficult. He asks us to consider different angles, to think about whether we agree or disagree with something, whether a certain principle is "good" or "bad" for archives. After class this week one of my classmates said, "Does your brain hurt yet?" Yes it did. Because I was doing critical thinking!

Take my class user instruction. The first day we were asked to write down things that our worst teachers did and things that our best teachers did. Then we talked about what makes a good teacher, about why we hated some teachers and loved others. I had never thought about why before. One of our textbooks focuses on reflective teaching, the ongoing process of examining your own methods and techniques and analyzing what worked and what didn't. This is critical thinking.

And finally, it's only taken me a year and a half of grad school to figure out some successful strategies for managing my time and my stress. One of those strategies is to start assignments early and use time each week to work on future projects. This kind of thinking and planning ahead helps to alleviate the anxiety that overwhelms me when it is "crunch time." Each week I take a look at my failures and my successes and try to glean actionable information from them; little tidbits that I can "plug" into my strategies to make them more effective.

So for whatever reason, this semester I feel like I'm discovering (or rediscovering) the power of critical thinking. And sometimes it makes my brain hurt. But learning how to think for yourself and translate your education into meaningful change is where the true value of information lies.

SLIS | classes | skills


Surprising Myself and Time Management

The third week of my fall class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals) just started, and things are going much better than I thought they would.  I've mentioned several times before how nervous I was for this class because of how technology focused it is, but things have been going really well so far.  I've really stepped up my time management skills and have devoted at least two hours a night to working on the material for this class, whether it be the readings, lectures, note-taking, labs, or other assignments.  A part of the reason why I've been doing this is because I learned from the accelerated nature of the class I took this summer, and because of my overall apprehensiveness regarding the material for the class.  Due to the way I've been managing my time for this class I've been finishing my weekly labs well in advance of the due date.  However, this week we're starting HTML, so I'm a bit nervous, but I'm hoping that I'll continue to surprise myself with my technology skills. 

The next two weeks are going to be a bit more stressful for me because one of my best friends from high school is getting married (yay!) and I'm in the wedding and I have to go to work, continue working on schoolwork, and I have to run around doing last minute errands getting stuff ready for the trip, and then next week I'm off to North Carolina for the wedding.  I'm really excited but stressed at the same time.  Balancing work, school, family, and your personal life is a delicate act that requires a lot of care and effort.  Dedicating enough time to everything can be tricky, but it can be done! 

 

Students | Technology | classes | skills


Engaging Classes and Best Laid Plans

I'm delighted to report that my new system for homework worked incredibly well last week. I methodically chugged through all my readings, got started on some future assignments, took notes on everything I read, and tracked how much time I spent on what. It was so efficient that I had everything finished by Thursday! Want to know my grand totals for the week? (Of course you do.) I spent 17 hours and 45 minutes total, of which I spent 11 hours reading (and note-taking), 4.75 hours on assignments, and 2 hours on review. I know this is incredibly nerdy, but I've ALWAYS wanted to know how much time I actually spend on homework, and how close it is to the 20-hour/week ballpark (10 hours per week, per class). Also, I thought it might be helpful for any of you out there still considering library school to get a realistic idea of the time commitment.

My archival access & use class is down to only five people, but so far that hasn't hindered discussion. I find the professor's teaching style very engaging. It's basically three hours of discussion with some lecture scattered throughout. I came to class this week thinking I was so prepared with all my readings and notes, but I still had to think really hard about the questions Professor Cox asked. The way he leads the discussions challenges us to think critically and carefully about the things we've read and what we think we already know about archives. I come away from class with a lot more ideas, and even more questions.

In my afternoon class, user instruction, we all got surprised with an impromptu 5-minute class presentation - scary, but instructive. We're going to be presenting a lot in that class to practice being in front of people and not freaking out. The class itself is like a laboratory for our experiments in teaching and learning. It feels like we're on a journey together with the instructor, to discover and develop our own teaching identities and philosophies. It's a fun and engaging class, and the time goes quickly.

As for this week, what is it they say about best laid plans? Both my kids were off school on Wednesday, and it looks like my son will be home sick with me today. It will be a challenge to fit in all the homework time that I planned, but at least I started strong. I spent Tuesday morning on the campus of Sacred Heart University interviewing instruction librarians and observing a library instructional session for one of my assignments. Everyone was so nice and helpful - it's great to see how willing the professionals are to mentor new aspiring librarians.

Librarians | SLIS | Students | classes | skills


A New Semester Begins!

My fall class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals) started last week.   As I've mentioned before, while this is an online class, it's a bit of a new adventure for me because there are a few "live sessions" incorporated in to the schedule.  These live sessions aren't in-person, they are GoToMeeting sessions where everyone is online at the same time and we can see and hear the professor.  Our first day of class had one of these live sessions and it was very exciting!  I've done videoconferencing for work and for group projects via Skype and Google Hangouts, but I've never done it for class before.  I did have some technical difficulties connecting to the meeting, but once I got them ironed out, I really enjoyed the component of the live session.  We had a segment where we were able to introduce ourselves and we could see and hear everyone, which is an element that I've missed from in-person classes.  While I really love interacting with my classmates on the discussion forums, the live session was really nice because I could see and hear everyone, both the students and the professor, and it was almost like being in a classroom.  Online classes have been convenient for my schedule so far during my time at SLIS, and while I plan on taking classes in person at the Boston campus in upcoming semesters, the discussion forums and live sessions have been a great way to participate and interact with my fellow classmates.  

I've also mentioned this previously, but I was very nervous going into this class because of how technology-focused the material is.  However, when we went around and did our introductions in the live session, and all the members of the class posted in the discussion forum, I realized that a lot of the people in the class are in the same boat as me with technology: lots of everyday usage and can adapt quickly, but not a lot of familiarity with coding and programming.  This put me at ease, and I think I am going to enjoy this class, and I know it will be good for me both personally and professionally. 

I hope that everyone is having a great start to their semester! 

Online | SLIS | Technology | classes


Fall Beckons!

My penultimate semester at Simmons has begun and the summer is officially over. I'm at this stage of my school journey in which things are beginning to feel very repetitive. Here I am: getting up before 6 am every Saturday, driving the same route to South Hadley, Mass., stopping at the same places for gas and a bite to eat, walking the same paths to familiar classrooms, seeing the same faces, eating the same lunches at the SlIS West office.... This is not to say that there's nothing unique about this semester, just that it's begun to feel very routine.

In many ways, though, this semester is unprecedented. For the first time, both of my kids will be at school for some portion of the day, giving me chunks of dedicated homework time in the mornings. The kids' school schedules force all of us to be up and at 'em fairly early so there will be more discipline and more routine. And I'm starting this semester with more planning, motivation, determination, and better personal organization than ever before. As my program has progressed it's become increasingly important for me to stay on top of my stress and anxiety and manage everything in my life so that the most important things do not get neglected.  

So how am I accomplishing this? First of all, I spent the weeks leading up to this semester organizing everything. My house and my own personal space is cleaner and neater right now than it's been since we moved in. I've attempted to do something similar in my mental space: relaxing, organizing, preparing. All of this has been aided and informed by an amazing book I read called The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin (a neuroscientist). The book explains how the brain receives, organizes, processes, and retrieves information and details various strategies for organizing your home, time, social life, and workplace to maximize your brain's ability to deal with today's information overload. I think it should be required reading for every librarian/aspiring librarian. The author included multiple references to information organization, records management, and devoted a whole section to information literacy.

I've devised a system for managing my time and my schoolwork that should help me stay on track, determine whether I'm spending too much or too little time on things, and recall what I've read all week so I can engage in discussions in class. My archives class has only 6 people in it and is very heavy on readings and discussion...which means none of us will be able to hide if we've slacked off that week! So I'm feeling quite optimistic about this semester and excited for the cooler weather which is clearly on the way. Bring it on Fall!!

Real World | SLIS | SLIS West | reading


Fall is Here!

Fall has arrived!  Well, technically fall doesn't start until September 22, but it certainly feels like fall.  The weather is getting slightly colder, the leaves are beginning to change, and the fall semester has just begun (my class literally just started last night).  I must say, I really enjoy how classes do not start until September here.  Even the elementary, middle, and high schools in Massachusetts didn't start until last week (at least that's when they started in my area).  My entire life, school has always started in early-to-mid August, no matter what state I have lived in.  I'm really enjoying waiting until fall to go back to school. 

As the seasons have started to change, I have been trying to partake in some fun fall activities.  Last weekend, I went to the Autumn Arts and Crafts Festival at the Historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA.   It was a great outdoor craft fair with a ton of vendors and exhibits, and I bought some fabulous items!  There seems to be a lot of festivals in my area this fall.  I noticed today that they were advertising a town-wide, weekend-long festival just one town over from where I live, and there's plenty of signs for other festivals nearby.  I've been finding out about the events near me by seeing advertisements and going "Oh that looks fun!" and then showing up but I have now found this page for fall events and activities all around Massachusetts.  If you live in Massachusetts, take a look at the list and maybe you'll find a fun fall event to go to!  I know I've found some that are now on my list! 

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the fall season!

Boston | Fun | New England


The End of Summer

So, I thought that my fall class started next week- I was wrong.  Guess who gets two more weeks of summer?!  That's right, I do!  The students in my class got an email from our professor a few days ago giving us details about the class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals), and it said that our start date is September 11, which means that I get more time before school starts!  Now that I have the syllabus and some more details about the class, I can see that this is going to be different than other online classes that I've had.  There are going to be a few "live sessions" where everyone is online and interacting with each other at the same time, which I'm really looking forward to!  While I've gotten to interact with my classmates during online classes before, it's been mostly through forums, and we reply to each other at our leisure.  With the live sessions (I assume) we will actually be able to see one another and participate like an in-person class.  My fall class is going to be an interesting new adventure, and I'll keep you updated throughout the semester.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do much as the summer has been winding down.  As I mentioned last time, I got surgery last week, and while I'm back at work this week, I've been trying to take it easy and heal.  However, because I have been trying to take it easy, I have been making a pretty good dent in my reading list and my Netflix/Hulu/Amazon queue.  Here's what I'm reading/watching:

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This comedy-drama series can be found on Amazon Prime and was created by the team that made Gilmore Girls.  It's won a ton of awards and is nominated for 14 Emmy Awards. 
  • Sick by Porochista Khakpour: This memoir is about the tremendous difficulty of chronic illness and the long emotional journey of getting and accepting a diagnosis.  
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I actually read this book last year, but before I got my surgery I was able to see the movie, and I wanted to reread the book.  The book is excellent, as is the movie (in theaters now). 
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: This was recommended to me after I finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It's a historical fiction novel, but it is based on true events. 
  • Brooklyn 99: I was devastated earlier this summer when it was announced that this series had been cancelled, but within about 24 hours it was picked up by NBC for a sixth season.  I've been re-watching the entire series on Hulu. 

I hope that you are enjoying your remaining days of summer break!

Fun | Relaxing | Summer | reading


The Last Week of Summer

And just like that, our last golden week of summer is over. My, how golden it was. The kids and I spent our last full week before school starts enjoying some gorgeous weather and having all kinds of fun and leisure time. I could not have asked for a better summer send-off. We did all the things: nature center, aquarium, IMAX, libraries, parks, and playdates. I have LOVED being able to spend all this quality time with my two kids, unhurried, unburdened, and unscheduled. With my first child about to embark on his public school journey and the second starting preschool, it feels like we're about to lose something that we can never get back.

For all my reluctance to leave behind these lazy summer days, I am actually quite excited for the fall and the new challenges and opportunities it will bring. Remember that exciting news I hinted about in my last post? Well...the exciting news has officially been rescinded. I had been accepted for a reference and instruction internship at a nearby university, but then the librarian in charge of the internship resigned last minute! It was a rather sudden and unforeseen change of events but I trust that it was for the best. Not having the internship simplifies my fall schedule a good deal and there's a decent chance I'll be able to do it next semester.

I'm really pumped for my classes up at SLIS West: User Instruction and Archives Access & Use. I've heard from many reliable sources now that user instruction (i.e. teaching info lit) is essential for working in an academic library and is one of the best classes for real-life job preparation. My other one is a required core class for the archives concentration and will help me further gauge whether I want to stick it out with this archives track or not. It may just depend on what classes are available in the spring. If I see any awesome technology courses being offered at SLIS West or online I may still jump the archives ship. For now, it's full steam ahead and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.

Summer | classes | skills


A Season's Change

I was listening to a podcast by one of my very favorite authors and speakers, Rob Bell, earlier this week. This gem of an episode was entitled "Everyone Is Your Teacher," and it turned out to be one of those well-timed bits of amazingness that was dropped right into my lap. The day was oddly gloomy, I was on my way to work when I would have much rather been curled up in my pj's while binge watching The Bold Type. Still, I had a half hour walk and decided to tune in and see if Rob had any words of wisdom and humor for me. (Spoiler alert: he did.) He shared a short vignette about the seasons that we experience in life, and how the various seasons we have teach us different things. He said that part of the power in celebrating any particular season is being honest with ourselves and letting it be what it was after it has run its course.

Now, what am I getting at here? A few things...fall is just over a month away, and for me personally, summer is ending much too soon. Classes start up again at the beginning of September, bringing with them all the hustle and bustle of a fresh semester. I'm moving out of my current apartment and into another in a couple of weeks--which reminds me, I have all sorts of packing and cleaning that I need to do. I started taking on some new responsibilities at my library job, and I'll be helping out with publicity and marketing for the foreseeable future. Hooray for outreach! As a side note- y'all, it has been way too much fun and I enjoy what I'm doing a whole lot. Who knew work could feel this much like play?! But the combined force of all these changes made me realize that I won't have the capacity to continue blogging here. Do I hear the sad Charlie Brown music playing there in the background? Just maybe?

This much is clear: I have a difficult time with seasons passing, even though they're a natural part of the world and our lives. A part of me wishes certain things could just go on forever and ever, amen. But it turns out we're not stuck in a perpetual state of day or night or a decades-long winter like the good citizens of Westeros. We're in a continual state of flux, of ebb and flow. I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to use this space to work on my writing and share my thoughts, and I wish all of you out there a happy rest of the summer! Maybe I'll even get to meet some of you if we overlap here at Simmons! J

Real World | SLIS


From Summer to Fall

It. Is. Over.  My summer class is done.  The class (LIS 415: Information Organization) was interesting, invigorating, and utterly exhausting.   I know I've said this before, but one of the reasons I really enjoyed the class was because even though it was an online class on an accelerated schedule, we had so many opportunities for discussion.   Additionally, the new concepts I learned will be useful to me throughout my career.  I learned so much about why and how we organize information.  The class challenged me to think in new ways, and I am walking away with a valuable set of new skills which I will use in future classes and in my profession.  However, I did struggle with the accelerated timeframe of the class.   What really helped me was setting aside designated hours of each day to work on schoolwork.  Admittedly, that didn't always help, because I underestimated the amount of work in the beginning (it's double the work of the normal semester because it's done in half the time), so there were a lot of late nights.  Even though the class could be stressful at times, I'm really glad I took this class during the summer.  

As my summer class is now over, I have about three weeks before the fall semester starts.  Unfortunately, it will not be all fun and games during the break.  Next week, I'm getting surgery.  Doesn't that sound like a fun summer activity?  I have this big list of everything I put off doing while I was in class, and I'm now trying to get everything done before my surgery date, so it will be smooth sailing and a nice easy recovery and transition into the fall semester. 

I am a bit nervous about my fall class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals).  Even though I am a millennial and am pretty technology-savvy, I know nothing about coding and programming.   When I started at Simmons, my plan was to take this particular class in person, so I could get as much help as possible.  However, I am taking this class online.  My work schedule for the fall semester is not flexible, and I know I'll be travelling again during the semester, so I must make my school schedule flexible, and the way to do that is to take an online class.  While I've heard nothing but positive things about this class, and I know this class will be good for me personally and professionally, it doesn't make me any less nervous.  I am always ready and willing to learn new skills though, and I go into each class with an open mind.  I'll be sure to tell you all about my journey throughout the fall semester!

Just around this time last year I was starting my application to Simmons, and after this fall, I'll be done with my core LIS classes.  I took LIS 407 (Information Sources and Services) this spring, I just finished LIS 415 (Information Organization), and I'll be completing LIS 488 (Technology for Information Professionals) in the fall.  I can't believe how quickly time has gone by! 

If you want to learn more about the courses offered at SLIS click here.

SLIS | Summer | classes | skills


Summer Class Wrap

Welp, my summer class (Records Management) is a wrap. What a whirlwind! What a race! What an adventure! In typical life fashion, just about everything went wrong with my carefully laid plans the last week of class.

Kids got sick (so no summer school ☹). Hubby extra busy at work. Cue mad scrambling.

I never intend for the end-of-semester time to be a hot mess, and I always try to be well prepared. But somehow it just seems to happen anyway. Did you know that I (or my kids) have gotten sick the last week of class EVERY semester I've been at Simmons? It's true. I'm keeping track.

Anyway, enough complaining. I have exactly one month now to pick up the pieces and get my affairs in order before fall semester starts. I have a lot going on this fall and some very exciting news to share............which I'm saving for my next blog post! Haha! I wanted to use this post to talk about my summer class and the online format in general.

So: Records Management. This was a fascinating class and the instructor was excellent. I took it because it counts for one of my archives electives and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in the archives track. You'll walk away with a pretty solid understanding of records management and how it works, and with more insight into the archives field and how the two are connected. I learned more about some other related areas within the information professions, such as knowledge management, project management, and information management. A great class to check out if any of this sounds interesting to you!

In terms of the format, I've made a bulleted list down below that you can skip right to if you're short on time. This was not my first fully online class at Simmons, but it was my first fully online summer class. I took Intro to Archives online last fall, and I've taken a couple of blended (in-person/online) courses. I really like how Simmons offers all these different formats - it's because of this flexibility that I can do the program at all. However, the online format is not my first choice. While it gets extra points for flexibility (I visited four different states while I was taking this class!) the thing you miss out on is the human interaction. Even as an introvert I will say that there is a lot of value in the experience of getting to know your classmates, making small talk about life and school, asking impromptu questions in class, discussing topics face-to-face, and engaging in group work. I miss the collaboration and camaraderie that happens in the classroom.

So I made a list of all the most significant characteristics (to me) of online summer classes, but I leave the designation of pro/con up to you, because it might be different depending on your personality, learning style, and situation. Happy reading!

Online Summer Classes: Pros/Cons (you choose)

  • Short: half the length of a spring/fall semester class
  • Intense pace: double the load of spring/fall class
  • Geographical freedom (with an internet connection)
  • Self-directed learning
  • LOTS of reading, LOTS of writing
  • Virtual human interaction as opposed to actual human interaction
  • In my experience, much larger class size
  • Less personal, less personalized

Online | SLIS | Summer | classes


House Hunting

This summer I decided to stay in Boston and look for a house to move into for the next couple of years. I can only compare this experience to my time I looked for homes and apartments in Austin, so let me tell you the number one thing I have noticed, broker fees. Boston is expensive enough already and to have a broker fee's, it really adds to the moving expense.  According to an article  published in April 2018, Boston ranks #7 in most expensive cities to live in. The article states the average rent is $2100. In Austin, the rent is expensive, but not quite as much, and there typically is not a broker fee included.  The property managers pay the brokers themselves.  It was quite a shock to see so many places that require a broker fee! However, there are search engines that allow you to choose houses that do not have broker fees.  You will need to be prepared to have patience and compromise and some of the requirements you may have for your new home.

If you are single and don't mind roommates, take advantage of Simmons Connect and find a couple buddies for a closer space near campus. If you are set in your ways, have a partner, or pets outside of town is your best bet (in my experience!). There are some gems out there.  If you are looking for roommates, you can allow yourself more time in searching as most people have several month's notice when a roommate is moving out.  If you are looking for a space of your own, be prepared the month before you move-in date to dedicate a significant portion of your time searching.  Most property management companies seem to wait until the month before to start finding tenants for the space.  I was told serval times I was looking too early. You can take advantage of this and search to see what kind of places are out there within your budget and what you feel you can or cannot compromise on to prepare yourself for the actual house hunt!

Good luck out there!

Boston


Not So Lazy Days of Summer

It is currently Week 6 of my online summer class.  Now in a usual semester, which is 14 weeks long, we would just be approaching the halfway point.  But, as this is a summer class that is only 8 weeks long, I only have 2 weeks remaining, and it is crunch time.  We have accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time in this class.  I've learned so much!  However, there is still a lot of work to be done and topics to be covered in the remaining weeks.  I have a group project to finish, numerous readings to complete, several assignments and exercises to do, and lots of discussion forums to participate in. 

One of the key takeaways from this experience is that summer classes require you to be at the very top of your game.  As it is the full amount of work for a semester class in half the time, there can be no slacking off whatsoever.  You have to manage your time very wisely.  Balancing school, work, and your personal life is difficult enough in a normal semester, but with a summer class it is a bit trickier due to the shortened time frame.   The accelerated schedule for my summer class does add some stress and anxiety to my life and I'm not going to lie, there have been some late nights.  This class has been a challenge for me, but I truly enjoy learning the new concepts, participating in discussions with my classmates, and seeing the knowledge applied in the real world.   Throughout the final push of this class, even though I am a bit worn out, I have really enjoyed is putting the new skills I've learned in this class to use.  In the classes I've taken at Simmons, everything I've learned has been useful and has helped me immensely in my career. 

These remaining weeks are going to be a lot of hard work, but a most rewarding hard work.  This program has allowed me to learn so many new things and develop a lot of new skills and I'm very grateful for it.  Wish me luck for the final push of the summer session! 

Summer | classes