Student Snippets


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

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

Jobs | Libraries | SLIS | SLIS West | Students

Lit Crawl, Book Fest, Maybe Zombies

I would like to introduce you to the Boston Lit Crawl, an inaugural event which is occurring on the eve of the Boston Book Fest weekend. Boston Lit Crawl is happening tonight, October 13th, from 6:30 to 8:30 ish. There are 14 events, and you can either go to one event each round or crawl around getting free drinks, free food, and great company.

There are events like the Wheel of Austen (Improv! Comedy! Jane Austen! Maybe zombies!), the Exquisite Corpse (remember that game you played in elementary school where someone wrote the first line and then you wrote the next and it went around? It's like that, but it's adults with alcohol), and a Boston Lit Crawl 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' for attendees to check out.

And there will be free food and drinks at some places--it's like someone crawled inside my brain and rattled around to create an event which sounds like my ideal way to spend a night.

There's also a reading at the Granbury Burying Ground to close the night. Listen, I'm always up for some creepy, kooky writing inspired fun. I'm going tonight with a friend or two and seeing if we meet anyone else from SLIS.

As always, go check out the book festival, check out the vendors, and have fun!

Books | Boston | Events | Relaxing | SLIS

Events and Banned Books

This week has been a busy week for Student Associations: Panopticon held two meetings (I went to both! They let me decorate cookies!), SCOSSA had a brown bag lunch with Dr. Sheffield who is so interesting, SCIRRT had their welcome meeting, and UXPA also hosted a welcome meeting.

However, several associations hosted events with a specific theme in mind: Banned Books Week. Every librarian, archivist, and book lover knows and adores banned books week. We get to leave our caves and shout about our love for the books that have been banned--

Wait, that's not what we did.

ASIS&T hosted a Banned Books, Intellectual Freedom and Censorship panel Monday night (here's a link to watch it!I recommend doing so!), where two professors and two of Beatley Library's librarians came to discuss topics relating to censorship in archives, Banned Books Week, and so much more. AMIA hosted a screening of Perks of Being a Wallflower (the movie version of a book banned in a Connecticut School System) with a discussion following.

PLG, SoCS and ALA-SC have all banded together with the Beatley Library to promote Banned Books Week all week long as well. PLG wants you to Declare your love for Banned Books at the Library, and talk about why you love them on a poster board. SoCS have helped put on a scavenger hunt across campus, drawing on both the graduate and undergraduate students to raise awareness about Banned Books. ALA-SC wants you to Get Caught reading your favorite banned book and snap a photo at their photo-booth.

All of these events are so cool and inventive, from the panel to the photo booth, and I haven't been able to make it to any of them. But here's a picture of my cookie decorating skills, I guess.



Events, Classes, and Being Busy

I don't know about the rest of SLIS, but I like to keep busy. It's the reason I'm working, in student leadership, and a full time student. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't have something going on.

We're about a week into the semester now, and it's been, well, Busy. My classes only meet on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but because I work two on-campus jobs, there hasn't been a day in the past three weeks that I haven't been on campus for some reason or another. I've finally decided to master the art of making food ahead of time for classes to save money. Basically it's pasta and chicken, but I might mix it up sometime soon. Maybe. In between classes and work, I've been trying to make time for fun events. As a student leader, I've been trying to plan my life around going to Student Association events, which I recommend everyone go to. My friends and I went to the LISSA and ASIS&T Trivia event at Thornton's, which was a lot of fun. There was a five dollar drink special, good food, and great company. I also was able to give my trivia group a really great name:


(Shut Up and SLISten. Nothing is better than a good Princess Diaries reference) 

I hope I'm on track to actually constructing a work life balance this semester, but there's this great comic my management professor is using to show that my method of creating one will never work out well. Check it out here--if you're in grad school, you'll definitely relate. As for now, I'm going to try to focus on avoiding burnout for as long as I can. Or at least another few weeks!


T-Minus Ten Days (and Counting)

In theory, I have ten days left in the summer to chase excitement, hunt down adventure, and capture magic.

In reality, there are only ten days standing between me and the semester, and I am not ready.

Don't get me wrong: I have the binders. I've rented the books. I've figured out my class and work schedule. I'll be meeting with the rest of the LISSA leaders today to discuss our plans for the semester concerning events and other exciting plans. I even--get this--went to the Annual SLIS Retreat to learn more about the future of SLIS as a school and as part of Simmons College as a whole.

I know I can handle classes, though I'm taking Database Management, which is a different kind of approach to information than I've taken before. And I know I love what I do and where I work. I'm excited for my classes and for the kind of work I expect to be doing in them.

So, technically, I'm more ready for this academic year than I have been for any school year in the past eighteen years. I mean, it's my last one ever, and that's how it should work.

However, as the semester winds its way to the start, like every student, I'm suddenly pretty sure that I'm not ready. It's similar to Imposter Syndrome, except I know everyone else feels the same way and that no amount of habit charts, timekeeping apps, and cute stationery will prepare me for classes. I mean, I have all of those, but it's a bit more of a swim and sink issue. I know how to swim, and I've been practicing, but there's that sinking fear that somehow, I'll mess up and I'm not ready for that.

On the other hand, I think things are looking good for these last ten day. Tonight, I'm going to the Dresden Dolls concert, and yesterday, Dunkin Donuts released their Pumpkin Spice Latte. I'll be hanging out with friends and meeting so many new SLIS students at the Introduction to SLIS. Plus, once the semester gets back into full swing, I'll definitely be ready for anything SLIS can throw at me.



School's Out for the End of Summer!

It's been two weeks since my summer class ended, and I've been SO relieved to have a break. I've been knitting a lot, reading actual books, and cooking real meals with Rob. We've been able to host and visit family for entire weekends; Rob's family came to Boston for 4 days, and this weekend we are going up to Maine to go river-tubing with my family.

Reflecting on my class, I can admit that I definitely struggled to be mentally committed to this class. I think it was a combination of the fact that it was summer and that this class was online. The content (Competitive Intelligence) was very interesting, but also more business-oriented than I expected so that caught me off guard and I really had to push myself to get into that unfamiliar mindset. I figured out pretty quickly that I prefer the research processes to the analysis, and analysis models are a huge component of CI (producing deliverable intelligence rather than simply gathering information).

Being part of a group project was challenging because we had never met in person, but it also helped me to be accountable to our project because other people depended on me. It was also helpful that we all had different backgrounds, so we could fill in the gaps when we had a misunderstanding.

Speaking of knitting... even though I didn't have much time to knit during the course, I was definitely thinking about it! This is because our project for CI was on JP Knit and Stitch (as our "client") and their presence in the online marketplace. I knew about this shop from when I used to live in JP, and I wanted our project to be something unique and locally focused. Our key questions for research and analysis focused on whether JPKS should invest in expanding their online shop in order to better compete in their market. Our findings indicated that this would NOT be a good investment for them - because they have a limited staff and want to focus on being tactile and grounded in the community - but they can learn from the online market and adapt popular trends to fit their strategy. For example, we came up with the idea of creating "knit kits" that would be a cross between a subscription box (ie. BirchBox) and a CSA. Customers could sign up for a curated kit each month and could pick it up in the store; this would bring people into the shop and would not significantly add to the staff's work load, since JPKS already sells employee-curated kits in their online shop.

I'm glad I took this class even if I don't want to build a career in CI; it was good for me to get into a different mindset (think: how will my findings be analyzed and applied, and how can that direct my research?). I also feel better equipped for my next online class this fall, Knowledge Management. I will still say that online classes aren't my favorite way to learn, but it will be nice to only go to campus once a week (Thurdays for my Technology class). Until then, I'll keep knitting because everyone in my life is having a baby and knitted baby gifts are the best baby gifts (until you can donate REM sleep hours to new parents)!


Moving Day: A Preview

It's almost halfway through August, which should mean that anyone moving into or out of Boston should be planning how to attack Move In Day.

Facebook just told me that this time last year, I was trying to convince family and friends to do the heavy lifting by offering them pizza and alcohol. That's approximately as much planning as I did. I didn't even order the pizza until we were done moving things in. I did figure out how not to move on 'move in day' by taking a train to last year's orientation and crashing at my older sister's house.

For those of you moving into Boston, Move In Day officially begins September 1st. Boston is a college city, and college students are always moving. According to a real estate article from 2014, Beacon Hill has an 80% turnover rate for apartments. In 2010, a little over 9000 people lived there.

So imagine 7,200 people trying to move in about one square mile from one apartment to another, and you get a pretty solid microcosm of the moving situation in Boston in a 48 hour time period.

I don't have to move this year, which is a great feeling.

My friend, on the other hand, is moving, and she is moving in on moving day. To make matters worse, she's moving from Boston to Brookline, and there is a crazy strict time schedule to maintain. She has to be out August 31st at noon, and she can't move in until the next day.

Her parents are coming to help, but they're coming out from Missouri. It's a bit of a drive, so she and her new roommate ended up renting a storage unit for two months. She's already started packing.

Here are some tips I can offer you for moving:

  1. If you can, wait until after the 1st to move in. It will make everything so much easier on you. It's not hard to make arrangements with your landlord to pick up your keys a day or two after the lease officially starts--just let them know when you'll be in.
  2. Make sure you know exactly where you're going and that the right address is in the GPS. Do not, for example, assume that your family members won't switch up the numbers and start trying to unpack your stuff six blocks away from your apartment.
  3. Bring water! I live in a building with an elevator, but it got hot fast. And people helping you move won't be as impressed by your 100 year old antique furniture if it's about 50 pounds heavier than your Walmart futon.
  4. Have a plan for your pets, even if it is just "dropping it off at my best friend's apartment while she's working". It better not be "leaving it in the car" because I will find you and I will fight you.
  5. Send thank you notes to family who helped out. Tell them how much it meant. Buy them pizza.

So, good luck to everyone moving! 


SLIS Reflections

It's been a little more than two months since I walked across the stage at the Blue Hills Pavilion to accept my Masters degree in Library and Information Science. The fact that I won't be starting classes this September still hasn't totally sunken in. This has never happened to me before; I have held the identity of "Student" since I started kindergarten. While I am thrilled to be starting the next chapter of my life, the part where I finally get to find out what grown-ups do during the work week, I will miss the familiarity and comfort of the classroom.  

I will also miss the familiarity and comfort of SLIS. For the last three years, I have been a part of a community of like-minded individuals. Like me, the many members of my cohort have aspirations of becoming LIS professionals while also juggling the struggles of being a twenty-something living in the city of Boston or Cambridge. Yet whenever the uncertainty of the unknown would begin to become overwhelming, one of the program's many mature students would offer either some life or career advice, proving the merits of SLIS's broad and diverse community. 

A while back, I was encouraged to write a blog post that highlighted my time at SLIS. Although I will continue on as a member of SLIS's alumni community, by the end of this summer, I will have to accept that my time as an active member of SLIS's current student community is over. And I don't want to waste a single moment of that time. Although I could write a list an extensive list that recounts just a smattering of my SLIS experiences, I'd rather use what is left of my time to emphasize this: if you are interested in pursuing a degree in Library and Information Science and want to be surrounded by peers and faculty who are just as passionate as you are about this profession, then I cannot stress enough for you to consider the School of Library and Information at Simmons College. You won't be disappointed by the opportunities that will come your way, the varied coursework and specialization options, and above all, the people that you will meet.

Graduate school can be a scary place, but it is the people that we meet along the way to that moment when you receive your Master's diploma that will make it all worth the stress, sweat, and tears. Although the future is scary, I know that SLIS has prepared me for whatever is going to come my way. I also know that I have many friends and former professors to reach out to for advice whenever that time arises.


Guest Blog Series about Study Abroad (Part 1)

We have a special guest blog post this week by current SLIS student, Hanna Soltys.

Hanna Soltys is beginning her second year in SLIS with a focus on archives management. Since moving to Boston, she's learned to like seafood and loves games at Fenway despite being an STL Cards fan. She believes tea, laughter, and a good book can cure any ailment.

From A to Z: Finding a SLIS Study Abroad Program

Guest Blogger: Hanna Soltys

Every start of the semester when learning about other students in the class, it's inevitable. It's the one thing tying a vast majority of us students together:

We all love to travel.

Yet, I was shocked to learn most of my classmates weren't aware they could study abroad as LIS students, even if they weren't interested in the programs Simmons offered. After looking through a couple options at SLIS, I didn't find one that spoke to me, and met with my advisor (Prof. Bastian) to see what my options were (if any). She introduced me to a SLIS Study Abroad rep where I was told to find a program from another ALA-accredited school and petition for credit.

Made a beeline for the ALA site and began clicking through schools to see what programs they offered. A few sounded interesting: one in Prague, one in Paris...yet something was missing to make me draft an email and begin my program inquiry.

And then it happened when I got down to the "W" section with the very last school listed (as of October 2015). It was on this last click that I found a match with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and their "In the UK Archive" program - a 2-week intensive study in Scotland gaining firsthand experience at education and governmental archival institutions.

I immediately contacted the organizers to see what course materials I could receive to help with my petition for credit. A past syllabus, program write-up (from their website), and email correspondence sufficed when I met with Asst. Dean Em Claire Knowles to gain approval. This was extremely beneficial to make sure you don't apply to the program and pay the application fee only to learn the credit won't transfer to Simmons. I also worked with the Simmons Study Abroad Office to see which parts of the application I was still responsible for as an external study abroad applicant, and I will be responsible for submitting my transcripts from the University of Wisconsin.

Finding a program was much easier than I originally thought when I went off the Simmons grid and the process was quite invigorating to see all the types of LIS-based international opportunities. And speaking of going off the Simmons grid, I'll share my Scottish adventures upon my return, including my time with a Whisky Archivist in the famous Scottish Highlands.

Note: The author understands study abroad is a costly endeavor for some and places barriers to participate. This post explores how to begin finding programs and working with Simmons Study Abroad.


Reminiscing on Belonging

Sometimes it takes a while to feel like you belong somewhere and that you're on the right path. Sometimes you search for reasons and moments and days where you can puzzle together hints that you aren't chasing a silver lining that isn't there.

Sometimes it takes a costume contest, two glasses of wine and a lot of fake confidence to find those signs.

I applied to Simmons sight unseen. The first time I saw Simmons I was applying for a job at the writing center and then rushing off to meet my roommate for the first time. The next time I saw it I was at orientation. Simmons, as a campus, had a hard time making an impression on me, and at orientation, since I'm a notorious introvert, making conversation was pretty hard. We talked about the weather and where we were from. Invigorating discussions.

I like to joke that when I saw the short hair and quirky dresses that everyone was wearing, I knew I was in the right place. My old boss, when I told her this, called it "the new library dress code".

I still didn't feel like I belonged though, and I spent a month wandering Boston alone, getting lost and calling up a friend who went to Northeastern to go to events with me.

That is, until Banned Books week. I'm passionate about Banned Books, as is anyone who goes to Library School, and I'm passionate about dressing up, and I'm even more passionate about winning prizes for dressing up.

Friday, October 2nd, 2015, LISSA held a Freedom to Read costume party, with prizes for the best costume. I had one in my closet from the time I almost won a Great Gatsby Costume Contest. Basically, I figured, all I had to do was show up.

It's a seven minute walk from the E line to Simmons and I remember chanting under my breath, "If you want to make a splash you have to jump", which is my advice to myself when I'm doing something new.

Like I said, fake confidence.

At any rate, I was early, and nervously sipping wine, talking to the one or two people from my classes who were also early.

Then the night picked up, and as more people arrived, we were talking about books, and classes, and assignments, and finally, it hit me.

I was in the right place. That night, two of the other party attendees and I made plans to go to the Boston Book Festival together.

They're now my best friends. I can't imagine Boston or Simmons without them.

So #mysimmons moment wasn't when I saw the green cupola. It wasn't sitting at a table talking about the commuter rail.  It wasn't sitting in classes and falling in love with the program.

It involved me in a heavily sequined flapper dress, a group of amazingly wonderful people and...was it three glasses of wine? Because what I love about SLIS isn't what it does, or where it's going. It's the people involved on this wonderful two year ride.

Books | SLIS

Three Fun Places in Boston

For the first time in months, I took some time yesterday to simply walk around Boston and visit a few of my favorite locations within the city. While I probably should have picked a cooler day (yesterday was HOT!), it was still nice to just take some time to enjoy sites that are unique to Boston. If you have not had an opportunity to visit any of the following locations, I strongly suggest you do. They are a part of what makes Boston special and are as notable to city as Central Park is to New York City. 

Beacon Hill: I started my day over in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Boston. With history extending as far back as the early 1600s, the neighborhood of Beacon Hill predominately features federal-style houses build during the nineteenth century. I love this neighborhood; while walking around its brick sidewalks and narrow streets one can easily forget that there is a modern city just a few streets away. The Charles Street area is where the old neighborhood and the contemporary Boston collide. Storefronts are in the same old style as the houses of Beacon Hill yet offer fare attractive to those looking for a bite to eat or to do some shopping. If you keep walking down Charles Street, you'll eventually come across the Red Line stop, Charles MGH. There is a butcher shop, Savenor's Market, that I always like to poke my head in. If I were a girl with more money and culinary skills, you can bet that I would take advantage of their impressive stock of beef, poultry, and game.

Public Garden: While I was originally going to go over to the Common, I decided at the last minute to walk over the Public Garden instead. For those unfamiliar with the Public Garden, its the place of swan boats and the bench from that scene from the film Good Will Hunting. While I never forget how fun much the Public Garden was during last year's snow-apocalypse -the duck pond had completely frozen over- the Garden is best seen either in the spring or the Summer, when the flowers are in bloom. Personally, I like the Public Gardens more than the Commons. I can't really explain why but I think it has to do with the size of the garden. It is not too big but also not too small. Everything fits perfectly into the space and creates a beautiful and relaxing environment. One of these days I really need to bring a blanket, a book, and picnic lunch to the garden...

Museum of Fine Arts: I finished of my day of walking by ending up at Boston's very own Museum of Fine Arts. THIS is one of those "You have to see this..." spots. Yes, Beacon Hill and the Public Garden are equally important but the MFA houses a one-of-a-kind art collection. Even if you are not the biggest of art lovers, a trip to Boston is not complete with out at least taking an hour or two and touring through the museum's impressive holdings. A number of friends have been telling me about the amazing visiting exhibit, Megacities Asia for months and I figured that it was high time I saw it for myself. Spread across the museum, the exhibit features artwork created by eleven artists representing the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Seoul. The mixed-medium works were amazing and really captured the stories that the artists were trying to tell. I think my favorite was Asim Wagif's Venu, which was a bamboo structure with cotton and jute ropes. There were interactive electronics hiding within some of the bamboo that rewarded the viewers who weren't afraid to gently touch the structure.

So there you have it, three of my favorite locations in Boston. All of these are worth seeing if you haven't already though don't feel compelled to do so all in one day. Even I hadn't planned to do that; the day just worked out that way. Regardless, I strongly suggest taking advantage of the Summer weather and the time off from school to get outside and see what Boston has to offer.

Boston | New England | Relaxing

SLA Conference 2016

I'm home! It's been a week and a half, but I still feel like I'm getting back on my feet after a month of traveling - Puerto Rico (for fun), Ohio (for work), and Philadelphia (for school). Most recently, I was in Philly for the Special Libraries Association 2016 Conference. My boyfriend and I took advantage of the location to also stay with family outside the city, and we got to meet their new (four months old is new, right?) baby!

We drove to Philly on Friday (June 10) night after work and arrived in the suburbs at about 11:30pm. On Saturday we took a bus tour of the city with Rob's cousins and had a nice dinner with them - there was a lot of chilling out because it was so hot and muggy! On Sunday, after lunch, Rob headed home to Boston and I went to the conference downtown. Because of my stipend from SLA New England, I was able to get a rental car, which allowed me to drive in and out of the city each day. 

Wilson_6-24-16.jpg(View from the top of the parking garage!)

My first multi-day conference experience was really interesting, and I think I found a good balance between enjoying myself and also learning quite a bit.

Here are some of the classes I attended: 

  • MASTER CLASS: Best Practices in Data Management and User Engagement
  • The Role of Information Privacy and Ethics in Good Business Practices
    • This talk was very lively, as people definitely have strong opinions about big data and privacy. The panelists also really encouraged dialogue more than hosting a "watch and listen" presentation. I actually spoke up at the end, because I could see the conversation turning to, "young people put everything on the internet and don't care who can see it," and I wanted to point out that actually elderly people are some of the most vulnerable on the internet because they are not as likely to be critical users of the internet. Digital natives and millennials, I argued, deserve more credit than we give them. I'm glad I spoke up, because after my comment I had many people come up to me to continue the conversation.
  • Exhibitor Theater Presentation - Lucidea - Doing More with More: You Can't Shrink Your Way to Success
  • Cuba as an International Business Opportunity
  • The Importance of Soft Skills in Intelligence Gathering and Practice
  • Voter ID Laws: What We Need to Know
  • Preparing Students for Corporate Research Life
  • Ethnographic Research Methods 

I also spent a lot of time in the INFO-EXPO, attended the Legal Division's Sunday night reception and Monday morning breakfast, and went to a Simmons alumni meet-up on Sunday evening.

You might notice that many of the events I attended were hosted by the Competitive Intelligence Division or very relevant to CI work. This was actually a coincidence, but I do think that it was a great way to prepare for my CI class this summer. On Monday morning, I remembered that my professor, Cynthia Correia, was attending the conference, so I emailed her and we ended up grabbing lunch together before she came back to Boston. I was glad to meet my professor in-person, since our summer class is online! While at lunch, we also ended up sitting next to a law librarian from a firm in New York City, and the three of us had a great conversation about CI, law firms, and legal research.

In reflecting on the conference, I think I really made the best of this conference and found a good balance between attending events, making contacts, and letting conversations happen spontaneously. I came home with a stack of business cards and new contacts with whom to follow up. I also let myself take some mental breaks, including a long lunch one day and a walk to see the Liberty Bell, so that I could return to the conference with a fresh mind, ready to engage.

My first conference experience was definitely a success and I am so grateful to SLA New England for their financial support!


Conferences | Events | SLIS

Beach Daze

I went to the beach this week. Word of advice?  Make sure you apply as much sunscreen as humanly possible; and always re-apply it after swimming. My back could make Taylor Swift's lipstick jealous, though I put on sunscreen pretty often.

We went to Revere Beach, which holds the distinction of being the first public beach in the nation, having been established in 1896. The ride out to Revere isn't bad--if you're like me, you catch the C or the D and ride to Government Center, then hop on the Blue Line to Wonderland (which, by the way, is actually closer to the beach than the Revere Beach stop. New England...what can you do?)--and the ride home is pretty relaxing too, if you time it right to avoid Red Sox traffic.

Revere Beach is pretty quality for a non-ocean beach. Depending on where you set up, the sand is pretty clear of debris and rock, the water is full of seaweed but not super murky, the downside is that the water is absolutely freezing, because that's how New England water is until August. There is also a place which sells good "beach pizza" for pretty cheap, and the slices are a quarter of the pizza, though it is cash only. I ended up taking home three huge clam shells and one (empty!) Nautilus shell.

If you're looking for a more typical beach experience, the MBTA does run a service on the weekends called "Capeflyer" which runs from South Station to Hyannis. Hyannis hosts a couple of nice oceanside beaches, a couple of cool looking museums, and is pretty close to the Cape Cod Mall. Hyannis is still a 40 minute drive from some of the more famous beaches, like Coast Guard beach, but I've always loved going on Cape, no matter where I am.

Here's a picture from my Revere Beach day! Remember sunscreen, water, a fun book and some cash and you're good to go for a fun, relaxing day at the beach.


(Seriously, remember the sunscreen)

New England | Relaxing

Farmer's Markets of Summer in Boston

June is one of my favorite months of the year. In the past, it used to signify the official end of the academic year. Since moving to Boston, June has come to mark the beginning of farmer's market season! 

As a lover of all things related to food, farmer's markets are like catnip to me. I absolutely love wandering through markets like SoWa, the Boston Copley Farmers Market, and the Haymarket Square Farmer's Market and talking with the vendors about their produce. The fact that you can buy an amazing amount of fruits and vegetables for just $10 doesn't hurt either. Whether it is your first spring in Boston or not, you definitely should check out a few of these farmers markets while you can. 
This past week I've been nose deep in books that discuss the history of New England cuisine. At the same time, I've been spending my Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Schlesinger Library reading through the letters of Arthur Nichols, as a means of learning about the late nineteenth and early twentieth century foodways of a Beacon Hill family. While I've learned a great so far, I'll admit that most of the foodstuffs and recipes that I've come across are for fare best enjoyed during the fall and winter. Since it is JUNE, reading about pumpkin pie isn't really making stomach grumble like it would if it were October or November. I will definitely try my hand at replicating some late nineteenth and early twentieth century fall recipes at some other point this summer, right now, I want to take advantage of the seasonal produce like currants and rhubarb, foodstuffs that I can only enjoy in May and June.
And speaking of rhubarb, I think I found the perfect recipe for those who want to try their hand at something other than a strawberry rhubarb pie.
These rhubarb bars are very similar to lemon bars which was why I jumped at the opportunity to try baking these. A cream cheese shortbread and topped with a rhubarb curd sounds like the most amazing thing to enjoy on a hot spring day. If this recipe seems like it would be right up your alley, I'd say go for it. The recipe is pretty straight forward and the results are 100% worth it! 
Rhubarb can still be found in a few supermarkets but your safest bet would be finding it at one of the three farmers markets I mentioned above. I went to the Copley farmers market on Tuesday and only paid $4 for a pound and a half of those delicious stalks.
For those interested in checking out the three markets I mentioned above, check out their websites to learn more!

Boston | Relaxing

Summer Semester and SLA

I've had a short break since my spring term, and now I'm getting ready for my online summer class, 'Competitive Intelligence.' In the last few weeks I have been busy with work, but I did fit in a quick vacation to Puerto Rico!


 Enjoying a coconut on the beach


 Zip-lining in the rainforest with kittens

Based on what I've seen of the syllabus, Competitive Intelligence going to be intense. There's a lot of reading, plus we will have weekly virtual meetings on Monday nights. On those evenings, I plan to stay at work late and call in from my office, since I won't make it home for our 6pm start time. 

This week, I'm getting ready for another trip, to the Special Libraries Association's Summer 2016 Conference in Philadelphia! We are lucky enough to have family in the area, so we will stay with them. Our plan (for Rob and me) is to drive down Friday after work; he is driving home Sunday, and I will fly home Tuesday. The conference is only from Sunday to Tuesday, so we get to enjoy our visit with Rob's cousins too. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote an essay and was awarded a stipend for attending the conference from the SLA legal division. The money can be used for travel and hotel expenses, so I'm planning to put it toward my flight and a rental car to get in and out of Philly each day. 

This week, to prepare for the conference, I'm going to check out the list of events and plan which ones I want to attend. The SLA website has a neat tool that lets you plan your schedule so you don't have to carry the whole long list around. I'm also hoping to attend a Simmons event on Sunday night, which a few of our professors are attending. 

I also want to read through the "Tips for First Time Attendees," since this is my first multi-day conference and I know that big events like this can be overwhelming. I will try to take in as much as I can, and write again next week about my experience!

Conferences | Conferences

Wandering Boston Gardens

Since the spring semester ended, I started a new job, Boston got hit by a heat wave, and I've been bouncing back and forth from Boston to CT to handle a few things, like getting an air conditioner and getting my dog vaccinated. However, because it is finally summertime, I've been doing my best to walk around Boston and just get to know more of the city. Recently, I've been wandering aimlessly and stumbling into some of Boston's cultivated green spaces. For example: 


(On the top is the Rose Garden near Simmons, and the bottom is in the financial area near Downtown Crossing)

My undergraduate degree in American Studies focused heavily on the history of the environment and environmentalist movements of New England, so I'm always fascinated by these green spaces. A pretty amazing book that discusses Boston's green spaces in particular is Michael Rawson's Eden on the Charles. Rawson takes a serious look at green spaces like the Boston Common and this economic, socio-cultural and historical influences which shaped it from an area for cows and farm animals to the park we recognize today. He also brings up discussions about class, urbanization, and concepts of 'Nature' which shaped Boston.

As conversation starters go, people are pretty interested in discussing New England's environmental movement. Especially grandparents, friend's grandparents, and history majors.

A couple of other books I'd recommend include Richard Judd's Second Nature and his book Common Lands, Common People, and Jane Holtz Kay's Lost Boston, for great looks at the environment, urban and natural, that once was and why the city looks the way it does now. I also recommend just stepping out on to the street, picking a direction and walking. You're bound to hit something eventually!

Books | Boston | New England | Relaxing

Life After Graduation

This past Friday something incredible happened: I graduated from Simmons with a Masters in Library and Information Science. Three years, seven semesters (including one summer session), and two internships later, I have emerged from the other side with my shiny degree in hand ready to take on the professional world. Huzzah!

And yet, here I am, still blogging for SLIS. Just when I thought my time with SLIS had reached its end, I was asked if I wanted to continue blogging for the program over the course of the summer. Having done so for the past two summers, I was happy to take on the challenge. Submitting posts for the SLIS student experience blog has been apart of my Boston life since moving here in the Fall of 2013. It's really fun to go back and read old posts and see how far I've come since then.
But enough reminisces, let's talk about what I have in store for this summer.
This summer I have two major projects to tackle. The first will be completing my History thesis. That corner will be turned on July 1st and I have to say, it is coming up fast. While my thesis is written in its entirety, I am coming to the end of my first of two the revision phases. 
Here's a tip for those who will be working on their thesis this coming fall: don't be ashamed of taking an extension if you need one. I had to take a few extra weeks due to multiple factors, one of which being a medical emergency. Having a few extra weeks has allowed me to give my thesis the attention it needs to make it great.

The second project for the summer is the completion of a research project for a fellowship through the Nichols House Museum in Beacon Hill. This project will include the creation of an original piece of research that relates to the Nichols House's collection, which is primarily composed of papers from the Nichols family. The museum is the family of the Nichols family who lived in Beacon Hill from 1885 to 1960. There is a lot of history there and I highly recommend stopping by the museum and taking the tour. At this time, I am in the early phases of assessing the collection and narrowing down my project ideas. I can assure you that I will try to include food in it, somehow. 

Apart from these two projects, I will be continuing to work as a reference assistant at MCPHS and will be working a few library related projects there. It seems like my post-SLIS summer is going to be quite a doozy. I can't wait to share my experiences with you!
For those interested in learning more about the Nichols family and the museum, click here!

Archives | Boston | Dual Degree Programs | SLIS | SLIS

Salem In A Day

My semester ended last Tuesday so, on Thursday, my friends and I went out to Salem for the day. It's a fast, cheap trip (14 dollars for a round trip ticket on the commuter rail!) and about thirty or so minutes from South Station to the Salem MBTA station.

We basically just wandered around the central tourist part of Salem, hitting up the Witch Dungeon museum, which was kind of corny but in that nice tourist-y way. They did a reenactment of one of the trials and then lead us on a tour of a replica dungeon, and discussed the history of the jailing of the witches. We then wandered down to the Peabody Museum, which was amazing and rich in both classic and maritime themed art and newer, more modern pieces. If you haven't been, the offer a student discount and it's really affordable to go in.

Of course, spending the whole day in Salem, we had to grab lunch. If you're looking for good food and a nice environment, I would recommend the Gulu-Gulu cafe. We ate there for lunch, and the food was amazing. The menu was limited because it wasn't full tourist season yet, so their winter menu was still out, but what they had was so good. At the end of the day, we went to Melt Ice Cream, which is this homemade ice cream shop on the walk back from Essex street to the MBTA station. Seriously, it's worth the train ride just to go to this shop. We also stopped in a few shops on the main shopping road before heading over to look at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and going home.

I had a blast the last couple of days. My friends have flown off to their respective states for a month or, but, as a New England girl, I'm sticking around Boston for the summer. If every adventure is as fun as Salem was--random sunburn and all--then I am so excited.

New England | Relaxing

Guest Blog Post About Medical Librarianship

We have a special guest blog post this week by current SLIS student Jessie Cass. 

Jesse is currently (Spring 2016) in her last semester at Simmons SLIS. She is finishing up an internship at the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester doing collection development and creating a libguide. She hopes to continue to do similar work in the future, though she would also love to combine her interest in cognitive science with the skills in library and information science gained throughout her time at Simmons. She has always lived in Massachusetts and will be remaining in the Boston area since it has so much to offer! When she is not doing homework she loves walking her dog and reading science fiction novels. You can learn more about her academic career at

Medical Librarianship 

Guest Blogger, Jessie Cass

In the spring of 2016 I completed an independent study which I called "Comparing Medical Librarian Roles: Circuit Riders, Clinical Librarians, and Informationists". I worked with a medical librarian (Catherine Carr) from the Lamar Soutter Library (Umass Medical School, Worcester, MA). She provided me with readings on circuit riders, clinical librarians, and informationists (listed below as "sources consulted throughout the semester").

After doing these readings I identified patterns that I had found in terms of defining the different roles and their similarities and differences. Additionally, when creating this blog post to share those conclusions, I found similar blog posts for readers to look at which also describe being a medical librarian.

 Comparing Medical Librarian Roles

 Circuit Rider: A librarian travels weekly to a set of health science-related institutions to provide library services (especially reference and document retrieval).

Clinical Librarian: A librarian works in a healthcare setting and provides services (especially literature searches, information literacy education, point-of-care support, and critical appraisals supporting clinical decision-making).

Informationist: A librarian embedded in any team (especially clinical, biomedical research, and public health settings).

 Common elements:

  • Domain (health sciences) knowledge
  • Library and Information Science education
  • Provide reference (literature searches / selecting appropriate documents / prepare & deliver materials)
  • Provide instruction (including continuing education and database demonstrations)
  • Support clinical staff and patient care
  • Attend case conferences and/or staff meetings

Additional perspectives on medical librarianship (first-person accounts):

 Sources consulted throughout the semester: 

- Aldrich, A. M., & Schulte, S. J. (2014). Establishing a new clinical informationist role in an academic health sciences center. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 33(2), 136-146.
- Brettle, A., Maden-Jenkins, M., Anderson, L., McNally, R., Pratchett, T., Tancock, J., ... Webb, A.(2011). Evaluating clinical librarian services: A systematic review. Health Information and
  Libraries Journal, 28(1), 3-22. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2010.00925.x
- Davidoff, F., & Florance, V. (2000). The informationist: A new health profession? Annals of Internal Medicine, 132(12), 996-998. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-12-200006200-00012
- Feuer, S. (1977). The circuit rider librarian. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 65(3), 349-353.
- Oliver, K. B., & Roderer, N. K. (2006). Working towards the informationist. Health Informatics Journal, 12(1), 41-48. doi:10.1177/1460458206061207
- Pifalo, V. (1994). Circuit librarianship: A twentieth anniversary appraisal. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 13(1), 19-33.
- Rankin, J. A., Grefsheim, S. F., & Canto, C. C. (2008). The emerging informationist specialty: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 96(3), 194-206.          doi:10.3163/1536-5050.96.3.005
- Schacher, L. F. (2001). Clinical librarianship: Its value in medical care. Annals of Internal Medicine, 134(8), 717-720. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-134-8-200104170-00023
- Stumpff, J. C. (2003). Providing medical information to college health center personnel: A circuit librarian service at the University of Illinois. Journal of American College Health, 52(2), 88-91.
- Tan, M. C., & Maggio, L. A. (2013). Expert searcher, teacher, content manager, and patient advocate: An exploratory study of clinical librarian roles. Journal of the Medical Library Association,    101(1), 63-72.
- Wagner, K. C., & Byrd, G. D. (2004). Evaluating the effectiveness of clinical medical librarian programs: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(1), 14-33.
- Whitmore, S. C., Grefsheim, S. F., & Rankin, J. A. (2008). Informationist programme in support of biomedical research: A programme description and preliminary findings of an evaluation. Health I I     Information and Libraries Journal, 25, 135-141. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00756.x

Classes | People | Presentations | SLIS | Students

The End

The Fab Four (AKA The Beatles) once sang:

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make
While the lyrics above might not directly correlate to my thoughts and feelings towards reaching the end of graduate school, I just really wanted to kick-off a blog post with something Beatles related. But, let me make some slight word modifications to make the four lines above a bit more topical.
And in the end
The experience you take
Is equal to the work
You make

Okay so it's not as good as the original version but I think it was worth a shot. Even so, I think my alterations work with the situation that's going on here. 

Indeed, my time as a graduate student is dwindling down; about twenty days, I am going to walk across a stage to receive my Master's in Library and Information Science!* Can you believe it 'cause I really, really, REALLY, can't. It seriously feels like just yesterday that I attended SLIS (or GSLIS as it was known then) orientation after accidentally walking towards Kenmore for ten minutes. Yet here I am, weeks away from the inevitable end. And OMG, what an adventure this whole experience has been! 

Although this might sound like a total cliche, a lot can happen in three years. I know that I am not the same person that I was when I first started at SLIS. Through academic courses, job and internship opportunities, SLIS sponsored events, and networking, I have made tremendous strides in my path towards becoming a professional within the field of LIS. While these are things that I knew would occur over the three years that I would a student in SLIS, nothing could have prepared me for just how much they would impact my overall professional development. While I thought that I knew which area of LIS I wanted to focus on (archives), my coursework and experiences have led me down a slightly different path. Although I would still like to work in an archive, I have discovered a fondness for reference work and an interest in special libraries. These are realizations that I would never have had were it not for SLIS resources like the Jobline or emails calling for applications for internships.

Returning to my lyrical opener, I want to emphasize the truth behind the fact that none of my experiences would have ever occurred had I not been encouraged by members of the SLIS faculty to push myself to try new things. Had I not done so, I would never had landed a job as a medical reference librarian and fallen in love with reference work. If there is one thing that I have to impart on incoming students it is this: don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone; you never know what you might learn. The SLIS experience is the one that is tailored to the individual. No one is going to have the same story here and that's primarily due to the path(s) they take between orientation and commencements. But you have to put the effort in. If not, then you are not getting the full SLIS experience.

I have had a blast blogging for the School of Library and Information Science for the past three years. It has been awesome chronicling my time in the program as well as sneaking in references to Kevin Bacon (like this one). I am not sure what is in store for me after graduation but I am confident that SLIS has prepared me for what is next. 

I might be back this summer with a blog post or two but for now, this is Jill Silverberg signing off!

*I will earn my Master's in History this August since I have selected to take a slight extension on my thesis.