Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Guest Blog Post - MLA Conference Experience - Professional Development

Hi Everyone! We are lucky enough to have a fabulous guest post from one of our current students in the program -- Kerri MacLaury. Kerri was kind enough to share with us her input on the recent MLA conference she attended. I hope you enjoy this exciting guest post! 

One of the reasons why I chose to attend Simmons University's School of Library and Information Science program was its support of students' professional development. Every fiscal year, each SLIS student, courtesy of the Library and Information Science Student Association, receives $250 which they can put toward various professional development activities. Funds can be used to be reimbursed for professional association dues, workshop or conference fees, and travel and lodging expenses.

This year I considered using my funds to pay for American Library Association, New England Library Association (NELA), and Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) membership dues, but ultimately decided to use the funds to attend the MLA conference. I made that decision because I know that I will remain in Massachusetts at the conclusion of my schooling and wanted to start growing my professional network in Massachusetts now, rather than waiting for graduation. The funds reimbursed me for all but $9 of the student-rate conference fee to attend for all three days. It was a deal that I could not resist!

This year, the MLA Conference was titled "The Greatest Job on Earth" and was held on May 20th-22nd at the Sheraton Conference Center in Framingham, MA. This. Conference. Was. FANTASTIC! I found such value in the workshops offered, that at the conclusion of the conference, I found the members of the MLA's Conference Committee and asked to join it so that I might help with next year's conference.

Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to network with library directors, librarians, and library volunteers from across the state. It exposed me to fantastic readers' advisory, programming and fundraising ideas that I hope to implement in future library positions. And, most importantly, it helped give me concrete actions that I can take to build equity in both programming and staffing at future libraries.

Here are some highlights from my favorite speakers and workshops:

  • Radical Respect in Troubling Times Keynote Session & Communicating Across Differences Workshop - Deborah Plummer, PhD, Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care

    • Focus on being respectful versus being right

    • Admit when you have made an assumption about someone else

    • Treat addressing diversity as a challenge instead of as a threat

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Recommended resources: Project Ready

  • Fundraising with a Read-a-Thon - Janina Majeran, Reference and YA Librarian, Swampscott Public Library

    • Select date for read-a-thon and map out promotional plan for press releases, social media video post, and flyers

    • Reach out to schools and library book groups to participate

    • Solicit donations from local businesses to provide refreshments during the event for participants

    • Promote the fundraiser to patrons and volunteers, provide them with pledge sheets so they can ask friends to support their read-a-thon reading

    • Select a charity to donate half of the funds to after the fundraiser

    • Thanks participants with gift bags and business supporters with a follow up press release and social media posts

  • Readers' Advisory: Connecting with Patrons Using Themes - Katie Stover, Director of Readers' Services, Kansas City Public Library; Kristi Chadwick, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System; Victoria Caplinger, Director of Book Discovery, Novelist

    • Romance Themes: Secret baby, friends to lovers, marriage of convenience/opposites attract, hating to dating

    • Mystery/Suspense Themes: Bad seeds, unreliable narrator/missing memories, too good to be true

    • Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction Themes: Robots with emotions, alien invasion, band of survivors, evil corporations, pandemic apocalypse

    • Christian Fiction Themes: Sinner redeemed, home again, test of faith, life outside the flock

    • Urban Fiction Themes: Church drama, cheaters, payback

    • Graphic Novel Themes: Origin story, women of steel, no power but still super, sidekick spotlight

    • Recommended Readers' Advisory Resources: NoveList, Book Riot, New York Times Book Reviews, NPR Books, GoodReads, Book Club MeetUps, The Millions, Books in Tumblr

  • Equity Program Design and Delivery - Valerie Wonder, Community Engagement Manager, Seattle Public Library; Josie Watanabe, Student Success Program Manager, Seattle Public Library

    • Look at which demographic groups your library is spending your money on and spend money where the need is the greatest

    • Listen to what different community groups say they need, not what you assume they need

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Identify your audience and prioritize them based on greatest need

    • Recommended resources: Youth Service Learning model, Social Emotional Learning: Empathy Domain, RACE Forward: Racial Equity Impact Assessment Guide

  • Seeking Stellar Staff, or, There Must Be a Better Way to Hire and Interview the Best People for These Library Positions! - Maxine Bleiweis, Library Innovation Consultant

    • Connect and match people with what they need to be successful

    • Do not hire for the moment, hire for what is coming next

    • Always be in recruitment mode to be prepared for the inevitable loss of staff

    • Use experiential interviews and have interviewees assist with events, great patrons at the door, show you something that they know, serve refreshments, find out what they learned recently, provide them with a real assignment that you are grappling with

    • In the sit-down interview ask what they know about the community, what they love to do outside of work, about past feedback they have received and how it impacted their performance, what's held them back and what they are doing to change

    • Recommended Resources: Helping Business: The Library's Role in Community Economic Development by Maxine Bleiweis, David Rock's SCARF Model

As I mentioned before, I highly recommend attending this conference, particularly if you will be staying in Massachusetts at the conclusion of your studies. Even if you will be moving elsewhere, you can use your professional development funds to attend a similar conference in your destination state. Upon leaving the conference, I had so many wonderful ideas to tuck away for future implementation. I am so excited to become more involved with the Massachusetts Library Association Conference Committee and hope to see you at next year's conference!

 

Events | Fun | Resources | SLIS | Student Groups | conferences


Summer Reading

Summer Reading

Summer is here!  My summer class (LIS 404: Principles of Management) doesn't start up until next week, but the course materials are online, so I've been trying to get head start by looking at the readings and seeing what my assignments are.  I remember how busy last summer was as summer classes at SLIS are shorter than actual semester-long classes (my summer class this time is only seven weeks long).  Even though I'm looking ahead to my summer class, I've been enjoying my last few days of summer break by reading and relaxing. 

I've been reflecting on what I used to do during summer break when I was a child.  One of my favorite activities was the summer reading program at our public library.  I was a voracious reader as a child (I still am--not an uncommon trait for someone in the SLIS program), and I not only did the summer reading program at the library, but also at all of our local bookstores.   One of the reasons why I've been thinking about this is because I've been seeing signs advertising summer reading programs at libraries and at bookstores, and I've come across articles that have librarians and authors sharing summer reading picks (such as this article from Slate that has children's literature authors giving their top summer reading picks for kids).   Seeing these articles and thinking of my childhood and participating in the summer reading program has had me reflecting on my favorite books as a child, and I thought I would share some of my childhood and YA favorites:

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling:

  • These books defined my childhood.  Waiting in line at the bookstore until midnight on the day the books came out, and then devouring the books in earnest was something that I looked forward to.  I read, and reread, and reread these books.  Fun fact: I actually took not one, but two classes when I was in undergrad that had Harry Potter books as required reading material. 

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

  • I first read this book because of a library summer reading program!   I got this book as a free book for doing the summer reading program, and it became a favorite of mine! 

The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, The Protector of the Small, and the Tricksters Series by Tamora Pierce

  • These four series are in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe.  I always really enjoyed these books because they are YA fantasy novels with an emphasis on worldbuilding and with female heroes.  These four series in the Tortall Universe have always had a special place in my heart. 

Bloomability by Sharon Creech

  • I remember picking this book out as a kid because I had read Walk Two Moons (also an excellent book!) by the same author, and this book has stuck with me ever since.  Ironically, this was another summer reading program pick. 

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

  • When I was a young child, I loved this book.  Food falling from the sky was just seemed so interesting to me.  This children's book is a classic for a reason! 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

  • One of my elementary school teachers was really into poetry, and this is one of the books she read to us.   This book has remained a favorite ever since. 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

  • I saw the movie before I read the book, and I remember being terrified of Miss Trunchbull, but I connected with Matilda.  I love this book to pieces, and it has always been a favorite of mine.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

  • This book had a huge impact on me as a child, and the first time I went to New York City and I went to the Met, let me tell you, I was beyond disappointed when I found out that some of the places that Claudia and Jamie spent their time at in the museum were no longer there so I couldn't retrace their journey  (I apparently am not the only person who has felt this way--The Met devoted an entire issue of Museum Kids to some of the frequently asked questions they get about the book).  I love that book and I think that's a part of the reason why I love going to museums so much. 

If you are interested in finding a summer reading program (for children, teens, or adults!) and you live in Massachusetts, you can look up your local library and find out more here!

If you live in Boston and are interested in the Boston Public Library's summer reading program, you can find out more here!  They also have some excellent book lists for readers of all ages! 

 

 

 

Books | Fun | Relaxing | Summer


Finding and Landing a Summer Internship

I had been worried about finding another job or internship over the summer months since I knew that I was going to be staying in Boston the whole time and did not want to just laze about until my South Korea trip. To be honest I was applying to almost every viable job that was popping up on Jobline. I was lucky enough to be asked to interview for 3 positions at 3 very different libraries. It was a hectic fews weeks in terms of every job I applied for emailing me at the same time, while I was also dealing with my general classes and internship deadlines, in addition to also preparing for a trip home to run the Star Wars 5k at Disney World! It was a lot to handle, but I somehow made it through with only slight strain on my sleep schedule (it is always those 5am flights that are the cheapest unfortunately).

Which leads to my big news, everyone...I scored my first job in a real library! This is huge for me as someone who going into this program has had no professional library experience. I accepted an offer to work as the Research Services Intern at Fidelity Investments over the summer. This is a 12 week paid internship where I will be working full-time (I have to be there at 8 am eep!) in their library, helping the asset management team with their research requests.

I am both so nervous and so excited about this position. Since going through the program, my mind has really opened up to career options I had not previously considered. If you had asked me before I started the program if I was interested in corporate librarianship, I probably would have responded with "what type of what now???" Luckily, last semester in my LIS407 course we had a whole class devoted to different libraries such as law, medical, and business. Linda Schuller, our liaison librarian at Beatley and instructor for the LIS430 - Business Sources and Services course, visited to instruct on this topic and my interest was peaked! It also turns out that an alumni of the program who I met at one of the admissions office information events had this internship when she was at SLIS (she was amazing to answer all my questions about the internship and let me name drop her during my interview)!

I am so beyond excited to start this internship in June and will certainly follow-up with a future blog post! My advice for anyone going through something similar is to keep an open mind about what type of job or internship you are looking for. Every opportunity is a chance to either practice your interview skills, learn and talk with current professionals and start establishing those networking relationships, and lastly, potentially discovering a whole new side to libraries that you didn't even know you were interested in!

 

Internships | SLIS | Summer | skills


Reading and Volunteering

It has been about two weeks since classes ended for the semester, and I celebrated with friends last Thursday in a bit of an unusual way: by giving out food to the homeless.

 Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen is a group organized through St. Clement's Church, located on Boylston Street in the Back Bay area of Boston. A couple of SLIS friends and I met at six a.m. in front of the church, and we prepared to go out into the streets. Carrying bags of bananas, granola bars, sandwiches, socks, and water bottles, the group of us enjoyed conversations with the people we encountered while handing out whatever they needed from the items we had on hand. I hope to volunteer with Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen on a weekly basis this summer. Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen is just one way to get involved in volunteering when I am not swamped with studying.

 After my friends and I volunteered in Back Bay, we went out to dinner in the Prudential Center. The Prudential Center is a huge mall, and there are many places to eat there, such as Eataly (a high-end Italian market and food court) and the Cheesecake Factory.

 Not having to do much studying until the fall, as I chose not to take summer courses, I am catching up on so much reading. The convenient part about living in Boston is that there are public libraries in every neighborhood, and it is easy to walk to a nearby library. I check out at least four books a week, and am still reading the children's books from LIS 481: Library Collections and Materials for Children syllabus. It's fun to see what teens and children are reading, and how I can get to know the reading interests of the groups I hope to serve as a librarian.

 I recently read this really interesting book about a girl transitioning back to middle school life after two years of leukemia, called Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee. It was a good read, and supports the argument that children should read books with serious topics. Next up on my reading list is the very popular book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Relaxing | Summer | volunteering


Fourth Class: Complete!

Last week was my final week of class!  My fourth semester, and fourth class of grad school is over!  I'm done with LIS 451: Academic Libraries!   I originally thought it was a bit strange having our big final group project due, and then having one final week of class with lectures, readings, and participation after that, but as our final week was about academic library careers and job interviews, as well as future trends in academic libraries, I think it was a nice way to wrap up the class.  In all of my other classes, the final week has been this big stressful build up, and then I turn in my final project, and then that's it, we're done.  While sometimes that's very cathartic, I really appreciated the opportunity to reflect and think ahead in the final week of this class. 

I ended up completing my final week of class on the road because I'm currently on a short summer break for my job!  Yay for intersessions!  As I work in an academic library, I'm following their university's schedule, and they had a three-week break, so I went to Iowa to visit some of my extended family during my time off.  This is one of the nice things about online classes--as long as you have access to Wi-Fi, you can take the class with you wherever you go. 

My next class (LIS 404: Principles of Management) is due to start up in mid-June, and I'm excited for the short break from school.  Even though I loved my class this semester, and I love my job, between work, school, and my personal life, this past semester was a bit stressful.  Getting that school-work-life balance right is a tricky thing, and these short breaks away from school and work really help me unwind a bit. 

During my short break from school, I plan on catching up on my reading.  I always try and do some non-school related reading throughout the semester, but towards the end, I always end up abandoning it in favor of my schoolwork.  Here's what's on my reading list for the break:

  • Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart edited by Krista Halverson

Books | Finals | Online | SLIS | Summer


Trying my Hand at Student Leadership

Taking online coureses this semester has been really great in terms of flexibility in my schedule for my part-time job, and for my internship, but it has been not so great for socializing and being involved at campus events. Since I did not have to come to campus as often for class or meetings for group projects, I spent way more time these past few months in my bed then I'd like to admit. So to get out of my comfort zone and really try to challenge myself, I decided to run for a leadership position in Panopticon,(the student art librarianship student organization). Which means you can now call me Madame Secretary! I knew I wanted to get more involved since time is going by so fast and I want to experience as much as a can in grad school before it's over! Panopticon has always been the student group I have been most interested in, and I am so excited to now be a part of their leadership team.

Having a background in art history, it is no surprise that I am interested in all the great activities Panopticon has planned throughout the semester. I remember at the start of fall semester they actually planned a really fun social get-to-know your classmates event called Drink and Draw where we all went to Felipe's for food, drinks, and coloring books. I still have my Bob Ross coloring book page hanging up on my apartment's fridge! The group also plans some more educational trips throughout the semester. For example I just attended their tour of MassArt's library focusing on their collection of Artist books. Not only was it wonderful to interact with the artist books, but also to speak with librarians working in an art focused academic library. Speaking with the MassArt librarians also brought up ARLIS/NA which is the Art Libraries Society of North America and how their New England chapter has a $10 student membership! So not only are student groups great for socializing but also networking!

Other event highlights that Panopticon puts on throughout the year include, student art shows (1 in the fall and 1 in the spring), field trips to local art museums and art libraries, and a graffiti art walk with SLIS professor Ann Graf, which I am hoping will become an bi-annual thing like the art shows because it was a such a fun excursion out exploring the Allston neighbourhood and seeing some cool street art.

 

Fun | Leadership | SLIS | Student Groups | Students


(Graf)fiti Walk

Lucky readers, this week you get to hear about (and see) Panopticon's Graffiti Walk with Ann Graf from two points of view because Maria and I both attended!  

When I saw the Graffitti Walk advertised in the weekly LISSA email update, I knew I had to make it a priority. I took LIS 415: Information Organization with Profesor Graf (along with Maria), and was fascinated when Ann told us about her thesis. Ann's research looks at controlled vocabularies (retrieved from the Getty Research Institute's Art and Architecture Thesaurus) and the description of art (especially graffiti and street art), so she was the ideal person to lead this walk!

Everyone met at Brookline Booksmith (except for me, due to a late start), and meandered down Harvard Ave in search of anything tagged with spray paint. When I eventually met up with the group, we wandered down side alleys and behind businesses in search of street art treasure! I'm surprised (but grateful) that no crotchety manager or chef came out to interrogate us! There were plenty of gems hidden down some labyrinthian paths. I really enjoyed being able to recognize the tagging style of certain artists, as well as see collaborations.

We also encountered a fair amount of more structured artwork, including a great variety of murals. I have quite the penchant for stickers and am fascinated by the way the elements affect art, so this walk really was my cup of tea. It was awesome to be with other art lovers talking about the composition of underappreciated (read: stigmatized) art forms.

I'd only met a few of the people that went on the walk before we started, but by the time we ended up at Lulu's (10/10, highly recommend), we were clinking our bellinis and sharing tots like old friends. Bonus: Now I have a go-to activity when friends come to visit!

P.S. My grandparents had called me while I was on the walk. I picked up to let them know I'd give them a call later, and let them know what I was doing. Between old ears and poor phone connection, imagine my enjoyment when I returned the call and found out that my grandparents heard I was CREATING graffitti, not observing it.

Events | SLIS | Students


End of Semester Reflections

I can't believe my first semester is over!  It sounds cliché but I really did learn a lot.  When I first read my course syllabi, I was very intimidated by everything we were going to cover.  I had no idea what most of the topics even were, so it's really gratifying to be able to identify and understand them now.  While I might not have mastery over all the concepts, I do feel like I have a strong foundation for my remaining classes.  Even better, my brain has started to think like a librarian!  I've been paying a lot more attention to how the library catalog is set up, examining the call numbers, and thinking about descriptions and relationships between authors and their works.  There is a whole complex structure of organization and classification that I never paid attention to before.  It's exciting to be able to "read" and understand some of that code.

And speaking of coding, I can't believe I not only survived but thrived in my tech course.  I would not have taken it if it wasn't required, but I loved it and can't wait to learn more about how to apply it to library systems.  I'm also really proud that I managed to balance school with working full time.  Some weeks and assignments were more challenging than others (I'm looking at you, XML lab!), but in the end I managed to get everything done without going insane.  It's definitely been eye opening to go back to school at this point in my life, though.  The first time around, I wasn't very involved, but now I participate in the forums and ask questions if I need to.  I don't have that fear anymore of saying something wrong or looking stupid if I don't understand something.   I realize now that learning is an ongoing process, and it's ok to not understand everything.  I got a lot of support from my fellow students and my professors, and I never felt alone even though I never actually saw any of my classmates. 

As for the future, I'm looking forward to getting a little more involved in events on campus in the summer and fall semesters.  I couldn't go to any of the lectures or networking events this semester because I couldn't take time off work, but now that it's not busy season, I'm free to go to different events, and I'm excited about that.  There are so many opportunities to learn about different areas of librarianship, and I want to learn as much as I can.  Until then, I'm going to relax a bit and enjoy a few weeks off!

Classes | SLIS | Students | Summer


One Week Left!

My final group project for LIS 451: Academic Libraries is done!  Completed!  Turned in!  As I've mentioned in a few previous posts, the final project for LIS 451 is a Committee Group Project which you work on with a group throughout the semester.  The final product was a written report as well as a recorded presentation.  As this is an online class, my group collaborated via Google Docs and presented our project using Voicethread.  I was on the Space Planning Committee, where our charge was to assess the current use of first floor space in a library and make specific recommendations for improvement.  One of our group members is actually a library director at an academic library (she is a Ph.D. candidate) so we chose to use the library she works at as our model.  This project was really interesting and useful as this task is something that a Space Planning Committee could have actually been given in an academic library.  Additionally, this project was great in another way that I didn't think of until I watched my professor's wrap up video earlier today--it gives me something to talk about with prospective employers when I'm looking for a job.  I could put this project, as well as other projects I've created at SLIS, into a work portfolio.  These projects are real-world products as they are similar to things that I would be asked to create in an actual library, and I am getting real-world experience. 

This group project was actually really easy collaboration-wise.  A part of me thinks that it was because we had due dates for our chair reports every few weeks, so it forced us to strategically plan but honestly with most of the classes I've had at SLIS, group work has gone really well.  Every class I've had at SLIS has had some aspect of group work or collaboration of some kind.  When I took my first online class at SLIS that had a group project I was terrified.  I had never done group work remotely before, and when I was in high school and undergrad I always dreaded group work.  The work distribution was never equal, there was no good way to collaborate, etc.  However, I've learned that Google Docs are such a wonderful thing, and while I had never used Voicethread before starting at SLIS, it's a great way to present a project remotely.   The hardest thing about doing a group project online is finding a time that works for everyone to "meet" online if there needs to be a live meeting to discuss the project.  With online classes, often times there are people in different time zones, and sometimes there are even people on different continents!  I've now successfully completed several group projects at SLIS, and I truly think that this one has been one of the best collaborations.  We had several live video meetings, we used Google Docs to collaborate, we had a bunch of email chains, and we stayed organized and on-track! 

Anyways, now that my final project is done, there is one week left of class.  I have one week of lectures, readings, and one last assignment and then I am done with LIS 451: Academic Libraries, and I will officially be a third of the way done with my degree!  Four classes down, eight to go! 

PS: Congratulations Megan!!!!! 

SLIS | Students | classes


Wrapping Up Two and a Half Years

Now it really is my last week of class and internship. I've watched my long list of school things to do slowly dwindle down to the final item: a paper for metadata due on Monday. Once that is turned in, I'll be finished. No more homework, no more classes, no more trips to Massachusetts. It has been an action-packed semester that has ended with a bang: last week's tote bag ceremony at which I was honored as the recipient of the Terry Plum Leadership award, our conference presentation at CLA on Monday, and a part-time job offer at Fairfield University! I find myself in the bewildering position of having achieved everything I set out to do (and more) and feeling a tad overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. My time at Simmons has wrapped up in a manner far more exceptional than I imagined and I feel breathless - as if looking around and thinking, "did I really just do that?" To be honest I also feel like I want to crawl into a hole somewhere and not come out for a while because there's still so much to process.

 How are you supposed to feel when something that's practically consumed you for 2 and ½ years comes to an end? When you realize you'll have to find a new "normal" because you can't remember what life was like before you started the thing and you've changed too much to go back to that anyway? I'll let you guys know when I figure that out. But first I've got to write this paper for metadata because it's not over until it's over!

 And here are two pictures for you from Saturday: one to show you how long my hair has gotten (I call it my "grad school growth" because I haven't cut it since I started), and the other is our SLIS West group photo. 

MegOndricek.jpg

GroupWest.jpg

Graduation | SLIS | SLIS West


Almost There

I can't believe the last week of the semester is here already!  Where did the time go?  My only remaining assignment is my group project because I managed to finish my tech project early!  I submitted it on Friday, and then I jumped up and down and did a happy dance with my dog 😊.  I am so glad I got it off my plate because I got to actually relax a bit over the weekend.  I had some readings and a small extra credit assignment to do, but nothing majorly time consuming.  My part of the group project is done and I'm just waiting for us to put everything together.  It's due on Friday and probably won't be submitted before then because of all the coordination that needs to happen.  But I don't care when it's submitted, as long as it's on time.  I also need to double check that I've fulfilled all my participation requirements for both classes.  I'm pretty sure I have, but it never hurts to double check.

So what's next?  I have a few weeks off until summer term starts, and I am looking forward to the down time.  I have a number of books that I want to read, some knitting projects that I need to finish, and various things I want to do in my garden (mostly weeding but also some planting of annuals for some pops of color).  I'm going to thoroughly enjoy my break because I know that the summer term will be challenging.  Since it's shorter than a normal semester, the coursework is more concentrated.  I'm a little nervous about that, to be honest, but I really want to take these classes so I just have to deal with it.  I feel like I've balanced school and work pretty well this semester.  Some weeks were more challenging than others, but overall, I managed to stay relatively sane and happy even during the extremely busy season at work.  I'm confident I'll be able to handle summer classes, too.  But until then, I'll be enjoying my time off.

Fun | SLIS | Summer


SLIS Career and Networking Fair - Come for the Networking, Stay for the Swag & Brownies

Every spring, SLIS Student Services puts on the annual SLIS Career and Networking Fair for the students and alumni of the program. I am have been looking for some summer internship or part-time opportunities in Boston and I really wanted to attend this event as an informative experience, and a chance to practice my networking skills (something that still stresses me out constantly and I am always trying to improve). I am so happy I went. Even though I did initially have to hype myself up a bit with some caffeine. It was really nice to attend a career fair that was actually catering to my specific field. In undergraduate, I attended one career fair and since my college had a lot of business and technology students I did not feel too well represented as an art history student. There were definitely ways I could apply my liberal arts degree to different careers at the fair but it was nice to have that taken care for me at the Simmons SLIS Career Fair.

Some of the top highlights from the career fair were:

  • Professional Headshots! Making a LinkedIn has been on my to do list for some time now, so having a good, professional photo of myself has finally kicked me into gear on that front. Pro tip: Do this first thing so you don't have to take off and try to restick the nametag you get for the event.

  • Talking to such a diverse group of organizations. I spoke with people from archives, public libraries, academic libraries, a corporate library, a law library, and there were so many more options. Pro tip: Plan enough time to talk with everyone you want, I missed speaking with the Cape Ann Museum because I got to the event later than I anticipated and they packed up a little early.

  • All the swag. I'm talking pens, pencils, stickers, tote bags, candy, folders, those things you stick on the back of your phone that can hold your charlie card, there was so much stuff to pick up and I was not shy about asking for all the things. Oh and the event was also catered, huge perk for any type of student! Pro tip: Either bring or look for someone giving out tote bags first, you will be getting so much information that it is impossible to carry it all while still holding your resume and having a hand open for introductory handshakes.

Overall, even though I am still in the program and not looking for a full-time gig yet, I think that the career fair was a really invaluable opporunity to speak with current library and information professionals. Just being myself (and as friendly and outgoing as an introvert on two cups of coffee can be) was really helpful to see where people with library degrees can go. There were a lot of Simmons alumni recruiting at the event and I had some really informative conversations about what people recommend for me as someone still in school to diversify myself in the field. Even at times when I felt awkward walking up to tables and initiating a conversation, I knew that it was an opportunity to improve and practice my elevator pitch that I can really nail down for next year's fair when I am actually starting to look for full-time work after graduation!

 

Events | Getting a Job | Jobs | Resources | SLIS | Students


I Can't Believe How Many Books I've Read!

Reflecting on the end of the semester, I keep thinking 'I can't believe how many books I have read!' I created my goodreads.com account in December or November, after hearing about a local high school librarian who used it to track books she read. I thought it would be good to set a goal in January, around the time of the new year. This was before I enrolled in LIS 481: Library Collections and Materials for Children. I thought to myself 'I'll create a goal of 50 books. It'll be super hard to read 50 books by the end of 2019.'

Well, our final reading journal assignment in LIS 481 was due a few days ago. I checked my Goodreads account, and I have read 31 books so far. Wowza, that's a lot! Want to know the secret? In Library Collections and Materials for Children (a required course for anyone in the School Library Teacher Concentration or Children's Literature Dual Degree) we are required to read 27 books throughout the semester. Children's literature qualifies as anything for babies up to age 14. We started the semester reading board books and picture books - easy reads right there! The semester ended with popular series book and an audio book.

Looking back on starting my 2019 reading goal, I wish I read the syllabus first. I registered for classes last November, so I was well aware that I was taking this course. I didn't know there was a way to look at the required reading list before the semester started. After course registration that my advisor showed me a whole wiki site for the SLIS syllabi. Once you log in with your Simmons credentials, you can view syllabi for any course in the SLIS program dating back a few years. As crazy as it is to think about how many kids books I've read this semester, I definitely know I am going into the right career. I loved every reading assignment in LIS 481! It was always fun to try to read like a kid opening the book for the first time. In a year or two, I will be sharing the joy of reading with children in a library every day, and loving every minute of it.

 

Books | Classes | SLIS | YA Literature | classes


Graduation! (Almost)

This Saturday is the last day of class up at SLIS West and traditionally the day we do our last-day lunch, class photo, and tote-bag ceremony honoring all the graduates. The last-day lunch and class photo is held on the steps of the picturesque Mount Holyoke library (weather permitting) in between classes, and then the final ceremony is held after the last class, about 4:30. It's a low-key, intimate, and friendly affair to which friends and family are invited and where most everyone knows each other. Graduates have their name read, shake Eric Poulin's hand, and receive the coveted and well-earned official Simmons tote-bag. There are no processionals, no caps and gowns, no certificates, no megaphones, and no fanfare.

Some may think this sounds like an anti-climactic culmination of so many hours and weeks of hard work and financial sacrifices. But I think it's perfect and so much in line with the character of our little program out at SLIS West that anything else would be ingenuine. SLIS West students are certainly welcome to travel up to Boston and walk in the official ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance, and some choose to do so. But I can think of nothing better than being surrounded by my friends and actual classmates and being congratulated by my own mentor, advisor, and teacher. I'd rather be recognized by ten people who have been with me through my journey and have some idea of what it means to me personally.

I'm feeling borderline emotional as I contemplate this final trek I will take up to SLIS West with my family in tow. They will get to see for the first time this place of my Saturday pilgrimage, the setting for many of my new discoveries, tests, triumphs, and labors of the past two and half years. I will get to see for the last time (probably) the place where I forged a new identity for myself, pushed against my own limitations, and became part of a community. I'll feel triumphant to be sure; proud, relieved, and maybe a little sad. But don't worry, I still have another week of Metadata so this won't be my last blog post. 😊

Graduation | SLIS | Students


Crunch Time!

It's almost the end of the semester and I can't believe it.  Where did the time go?  I am really looking forward to having a break, but I still have a lot of work to do before I can relax.  I have two big projects due the last week of classes: a group project for my info organization class, and an individual project for my tech class.     

My goal is to complete the tech project early, partly because I want to use the last week to focus on finishing up my group project, and partly because I just plain want to get it done!  Our assignment is to create a personal website for prospective employers.  It's a really great project because it requires us to use and showcase all the skills we've learned in class this semester.  I have learned so much this semester, and I am definitely using everything I've learned, and more.

Right now, I have the formatting all set up, and I just need to play around with the wording a bit.  The formatting was the hardest part to complete and I am thrilled that that part is done. The reason it was so difficult was because I started completely from scratch and therefore had to make decisions about every little thing from font size and style, image and navigation bar placement, and everything else in between.  Before taking this class, I really didn't think about how websites were made or structured but now I do.  Website construction is part tech, part art, and very time consuming.  I cannot stress that enough.  It is very time consuming.   I have already spent many hours playing around with formatting.  I've learned through trial and error that even the smallest elements can affect the look of other elements, and maintaining a good balance can be a challenge.  I really wanted to use a textured, wood-like background, but no matter how many pictures I used, I found it distracted from the text.  And the fancier, prettier text I wanted to use simply didn't look right.  I finally settled on a neutral background with a plainer font.  It looks clean, simple, and modern.  I love it, and I am really proud of what I've created.  I never in a million years thought I would make any type of website, but here I am, almost done with one.  In the next few days, I will firm up the text, add a few more images, and then (deep breaths) submit it.   Then I'll focus on my other work.

SLIS | Technology | Workload | classes


Accepted Student Luncheon (as a Current Student)

March/April is such a busy time at the admissions office at SLIS, where I work part-time, and just a few weekends ago, we had the Accepted Student Lunch on our Boston Campus for everyone admitted into SLIS for the Fall. I attended to participate on the student panel, help out with the concentration breakout sessions, give one of the largest tours I've done so far, and most importantly enjoy a delicious free lunch chatting with future students in the program.

What I really liked about being able to participate in this event, is that I actually attended the Accepted Student Lunch last Spring before I was a student, and it was certainly a valuable experience for me as someone who had never been to campus before and was still a little hesitant about moving so far from home (and the sunshine). I remember being the first to arrive at my table and being super nervous about almost everything. Luckily, a few of the other people at my table were interested in the same concentration as me so we had that as an ice breaker and we had both a current student and faculty member at my table who were both very engaging and well-informed.

Choosing to go to graduate school was a whirlwind decision for me. I would flip flop from thinking I never want to go back to school to I miss school and I have to go back sometime. Meeting other people at events like the accepted student luncheon really helped me not feel alone in this huge life decision and meeting and hearing from faculty, alumni, and current students was one of the most helpful factors in making my decision. I remember being intimidated by how smart and so put together everyone was but I do remember there was one student on the panel who was so honest and blunt about how she struggled at first and had to take her time in the program and she knew she couldn't work full-time, do an internship, and graduate in 2 years like some of the other people who spoke about their experience. Hearing from her really put me at ease and let me know that, yes this is a huge commitment but if you really want it you can make it work! And I am so glad that I did because grad school has been so much better than I could have imagined, yes it is hard, yes it is stressful, but when you really love what you are learning about it makes it all worth it.

 

Events | SLIS | Students


Baptism by Twitter Fire

Somehow I never caught twitter fever. I've technically owned a twitter since 2013, but I've done very little in terms of operating it. Paging through the archive, I can tell I was stressed about starting college, because the summer of 2014 was by far my most active and angst-filled twitter period! Even so, I only tweeted 50 times.

I bring this up because my Collection Development and Management course (LIS 453) had a social media assignment due this week! We had to tweet about promotions, publicity, displays, and other relevant & useful information related to libraries. Some posts had to feature original content in the form of photos, while the rest could be exceptional retweets with commentary.

While I like taking photos and think I'm funny (sometimes), brevity has never been my strength. Starting this assignment, more often than not I was hitting (or going over) the 280 character limit. That meant making four or five drafts until the tweets were slimmed down and ready to post. According to this TechCrunch article, twitter's limit used to be 140 characters! Apparently I was heavily contributing to the 1% of tweets that are 280 characters, as well as the only 12% that go above 140.

This social media assignment was a tough one for me! That said, I definitely got the hang of it. Below are two of my favorite tweets from this assignment.

If you want to see my ramblings (or just get an idea of a potential assignment), you can find me on twitter @Katie73508043 (largely because I missed the place in the mobile sign-up where I could customize my username when creating my 'librarian' twitter. Oops).

 

SLIS | Technology | classes


Group Work Thoughts

My family and I have been spending the kids' spring break down in southwestern Virginia at my parents' house and absolutely loving it. Spring is farther along in Virginia than it is up in Connecticut and all the burgeoning green and flowering trees are simply gorgeous. This trip has been so good for my soul. Having grown up in small towns and fresh country air I honestly feel suffocated living along the crowded, overdeveloped I-95 corridor. If I couldn't get out every now and then I think I'd burst.

Anyway, we are one week closer to the end of the semester with just about two weeks left of class! Things aren't exactly winding down yet, but I'm hoping that having the end in sight will give me the strength to get through this last final push. One thing is wrapping up though, and that's my group project for the Metadata class. We'll be turning it in this week and viewing the presentations of the other groups for class. I used to hate group projects in high school and undergrad, but I've gained a new appreciation for them while at Simmons. Why has this happened? For one thing, you're faced with the realization that these group projects imitate real life and prepare you for collaboration on the job. For another thing, your classmates and instructors are more like colleagues and everyone seems to care more and take greater responsibility for their own work. Still, a group project can feel like a bit of a gamble. You may be randomly assigned to your team and/or topic and expected to adapt to whatever team dynamic results.

Fortunately, I found this latest experience quite rewarding. We had to create a 20-minute presentation video consisting of slides with voiceover narrative and some sample records using the metadata standard we'd been assigned. There didn't seem to be a good way to equitably divide up the work between five people, so we essentially all worked together on most of it using shared documents and shared slides. This "committee style" approach worked well for our group, because everyone seemed equally committed and willing to take responsibility. I would like to put a plug in for using video conferencing as opposed to just audio or text chat. We were a little shy and reluctant at first to turn on our webcams and talk face-to-face, but those video meetings were far more productive than our text-only ones and it really helped to put faces to names. Communication is so much better "in person," even if it's over an internet connection. My tip for the week is: next time you find yourself working virtually with a group, suggest video chat!

Classes | Online | SLIS | Workload


Spring Is Here!

Spring is here!  The birds are chirping, flowers are starting to bloom, and most importantly, it is not cold outside!  There is still (still!) a pile of snow in my yard that refuses to melt, but I think it is on its way out.  With the weather getting warmer, it makes me think about how close the end of the semester is.  We're in Week 12!  Where has all the time gone?  It feels like we just started! 

I think a part of the reason why this semester has flown by so fast is because I've been so busy.   I usually try and take time to relax, and lift my head out of my books, but I haven't been doing that lately as my schedule has been getting more intense.  The busier I am, and the more stressed I am, the faster time seems to go (even though it really isn't moving quicker).  I really should work harder on scheduling time for relaxation--at the beginning of each semester I start out strong and schedule time for studying and relaxing, but towards the end of the semester, I'm not as good about that scheduled relaxation time.  I'm thinking of making a mid-year resolution to have dedicated time each weekend to get out and do something fun--that way if I can't build relaxation time into the week because I'm busy, then at least I'll have that.  The end of the semester is always a busy time, and I still have two big assignments due--one individual and the big group Committee project.  As much as I've enjoyed this class and all of the projects and assignments because they are so interesting and relevant, I've never liked the last few weeks of any semester (in high school, college, or grad school) because of all of the stress that comes with it.  

As this semester draws to a close, I'm starting to think about the semesters ahead.  Since my last post, Fall 2019 Registration has happened!  When I last spoke about registration, I had selected a class for Summer 2019 Registration that I was hoping to get in to (LIS 404: Principles of Management), and I was able to get a seat in the class!  For Fall 2019 Registration, I hadn't selected a class at the time.  There was a wealth of possibilities to choose from!  I ultimately ended up choosing LIS 421: Social Informatics.  Both classes are online classes and I'm really happy that I was able to register for all them both.   I still want to take an in-person class sometime!  However, with the way my job is right now, I think online classes are the way to go--but I'm keeping my eyes open for a Saturday class or a blended class at the Boston campus!

Classes | Online | SLIS


Participation

I'll start with good news.  I was able to register for all the classes I wanted!  Yay!  I also signed up for two summer courses: LIS 407, Info Sources & Services (my final required course), and LIS 439, Preservation Management.  I might switch out 439 for LIS 404, Principles of Management, but it was full and I had to sign up for the waitlist.  I don't know if I'll end up getting in, but I won't go wrong with either course.  I'm not too worried about it.

                Now, onto this week's topic.  One of my main questions heading into this semester was how the participation part of my classes would work, since both of them are online.  The answer is: discussion forums.  Each class has forums for instructor announcements and general help questions, but how many other forums there are, and how often to post to them, can vary.  For my technology class, we have one main board in which we discuss current technology trends and articles.  I don't usually keep up with technology news, and this has been a great way to get me to do that.  I've learned a lot by reading the posted articles and following the discussions.  And long as we submit the required number of posts by the end of the semester, we can check in and post whenever we want.

That's not the case for my info organization class, where weekly participation is required.  The class is broken down into modules and there are multiple forums for each module, involving discussions about the readings, small assignments, reflections, and questions or comments.  We are required to make a certain number of posts per module.  The discussions here have lots of responses, and it can be difficult to keep up.  I find that I need to check in every other day or so in order to not get behind, otherwise it gets too overwhelming.

There are a lot of things I like about the forums.  I find it much easier to write about my opinions than voice them, which is why I hesitate to participate in traditional classes.  But in the forums, I can present a fully formed, thoughtfully written opinion, which makes me participate more often.  It makes means the quality of discussion is a little better than in a traditional class.  Also, because I never get to actually see my fellow classmates, reading the forums helps me feel like I'm part of a group.  I especially love that if I have a question, I can post it and get several responses (or someone to commiserate with me!).  I've written and read more than one post about not fully understanding an assignment or topic, and it's nice to get reassurance that I'm not the only one struggling at times.  So overall, while the forums are different than a face to face class, I find they are still an effective learning tool.  It just takes a little time to adjust to the differences.

Online | SLIS | Workload | classes