Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Presentation Time, and a Lucky Coincidence

I finished my first project of the semester this week.  It was a Power Point presentation for Collections Development on a book genre of our choice.  We had to research current trends in our genre, identify helpful resources, and analyze publishing statistics.  We also had to create a two-page handout with a brief overview on the topic.  This allows us to discover and share what is trending in the book world, so that ultimately we can build a library collection that satisfies user needs. 

Before I was back in school, I thought 5-7 minutes was a long time for a presentation, but it turns out it is not a lot of time at all.  It goes by fast, especially if you have a list of items that you need to cover.  Whittling down all the information into a narrative that is thorough, concise and makes sense is not easy.  I've completed audio presentations for other classes and I've never recorded anything within the time limit on the first (or even second or third) try.  It takes a lot of time to put together something that hits all the marks, but it is so satisfying when you finally get a take that hits all the points.  

I chose young adult mysteries as my genre because I am a huge mystery fan, love YA books, and wanted to learn more about the topic.  I really enjoyed my research for this project.  I found lots of new sources for book info, including YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), which is the YA division of the American Library Association.  It has lots of information on YA genres of all types, and also has a book finder database.  I also had a lucky coincidence while doing my research.  I kept seeing One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus at the top of many YA mystery book lists, and I found out the author was giving a talk at a local bookstore.  I wasn't able to go there in person but I livestreamed it on Instagram and it was fantastic.  She was a great speaker and gave lots of information on why she loves writing YA mysteries.  I speed-read the book after and I loved it.  Thanks to this project, I've added a lot of books to my To-Be-Read list.  And as I make my way through viewing my classmates' presentations, I know I'll discover even more books that I want to read and genres I want to explore. 

Classes | Projects | SLIS | Students


School Library Teacher Life

So far, my student teaching experience is showing me that in order to work in a school, you really need to love what you do. The passion and dedication to this profession that I see in each of the teachers is incredible. I've also found that each day I learn something new from the kids. I tried teaching a lesson on kindness and a kindergarten student reminded me that it is good to have confidence in yourself. When I have trouble balancing doing chores in my house, and a fifth grader reminds me how important it is for everyone to help clean, that really resonates.

Another example of these amazing children is that a group of fifth grade students have a book club, which participates in fundraising. Before they start reading a new book, they do a service project to raise money for children living in a homeless shelter, who don't have books. Most recently, these kids were able to purchase 60 books to be delivered! How amazing is that? In case your wondering, the book club just finished reading The Bridge Home by T. V. Padma.

Balancing my technology class with student teaching is a struggle, but luckily I have next week off from teaching. I will spend the week working on my portfolio notebook that I submit to the Simmons SLT program director Melanie Kimball at the end of the semester, as well as working on small projects for my technology class. The LIS 460: Technology and the School Library Teacher course, is tailored for the needs of library teacher professionals. Next week will also be nice because I have a friend visiting from out of town to spend a long weekend in Boston. Being in the final year of the school library program keeps me busy, but as I said before you really have to love what you do. Each day of student teaching, I know this is the right career for me.

SLIS | SLT | Workload | classes


Let's Talk About Books!

This week I have one of the most fun projects that I've had since starting at Simmons!  I get to talk about BOOKS!  I know, I know, this is library school, shouldn't this be a common thing?  Actually, no, this is not a usual assignment. I don't think I've actually had an assignment where I've gotten to wax poetic about books, genres, publishing, or anything of that nature since we talked about readers advisory waaaaayy back in my first semester when I was taking LIS 407: Information Sources and Services. This week is my Genre/Topic project for LIS 453: Collection Development and Management.  For this project, I get to talk about a particular topic or book genre and discuss publishing trends, what's hot and what's not, popular books, any books that are going to be released as movies and/or TV shows in my genre, etc. Doesn't that sound like fun?  I'm excited for this project for a variety of reasons.  First, as I mentioned earlier, I GET TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS!  Like many others who came before me, and many who will come after me, one of the reasons why I wanted to be a librarian is because I like books.  It's not the only reason--I also like to do research, I like helping people, and I feel like the library is my home away from home, but a love of books and reading was definitely a part of it.  I'm also excited for this project because it's so different than other projects that I've done at Simmons.  Maybe it's just the classes I've chosen, but with the exception of a few times in LIS 407, I really haven't gotten many opportunities to talk about books.  While I appreciate all of the projects that I have done, and they have definitely helped me professionally, this is a project that I know I'll have fun doing. 

We got to choose from a long list of book genres and other topics for this project.  I say "other topics" because as this is Collection Development and Management, a library's collection doesn't just consist of books, it also consists of other items such as board games, video games, movies, television shows, and apps (all of which were topics that we could choose from on the list).  For my project, I selected "Contemporary Romance" as my genre. I really wanted to write about books, so I decided to choose a book genre that I felt was super different than what I usually work with in my day-to-day library job (I work in an academic library that focuses on the health sciences) as well as different than what I did for any book-related assignments that I may have had earlier on at Simmons, and a genre that I could have fun with.  When I read for fun, I don't tend to stick to one genre--I will read anything that I think will be interesting and grabs my attention.  I really didn't know a lot about the romance novel industry as a whole before starting this project, so I've been learning a lot. 

This class has been so exciting so far!  I know I'm going to have a great time finishing up this project, and I'm looking forward to my upcoming projects in this class! 

Books | Classes | Projects | SLIS | Students


Mastering Metadata

One of the most interesting things about metadata is that there is a big difference between reading about metadata and creating metadata. I learned a little about this last year when we covered the topic briefly in LIS 415, but I'm learning a lot more about it now. The readings make metadata creation seem straightforward, but when I try to complete my assignments, I often get stuck. There is so much to think about, and so many categories to cover. Sometimes it's hard to figure out if I've covered all the possible information I need to for a particular item. 

For example, this week we have to create our own metadata schema to describe three different music albums. We don't have to describe the albums yet, just come up with all the categories necessary to describe them. The starting point is the album cover and back, which includes information such as the title of the album, the artist and other contributors, and the song titles. There can also be information on the producer(s), the studio name, and the location of the studio. There might be more than one date as well, depending on the type of album and whether or not the copyright has been renewed. There could also be various identification numbers, similar to ISBN numbers for books, or text describing a part of the artist or album. 

You also need to figure out if the album is related to any other work.  One of the albums we have to work with is the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The album is related to several other items:  the television special, which was based on the book, which was based on the comic strip, which was created by Charles Schultz.  All of this information needs to be included in the metadata in some way, but it's difficult to figure out how to express those relationships succinctly. One of our other examples is a movie soundtrack. I'm unclear about how much information about the movie itself, like the actors, producers, or directors, needs to be included in the metadata, or if a simple statement that it's related to the movie is enough. I can't include everything in the metadata, because that would take a lot of time and potentially make reading the metadata more confusing. Since metadata has to be searchable and useful, this is a key point. I'm definitely on the side of more concise metadata, but I'm not sure yet how to make sure every aspect of an items is covered to the fullest extent. I know we're going to go over all of that in the coming weeks and I'm looking forward to it. It's fascinating and frustrating at the same time. 

Classes | SLIS | Students | skills


Pizza with the Dean

There was a really cool event on campus last, Pizza with the Dean. For those of you unaware, the dean of COCIS is Marie desJardines who I learned comes from a computer science background. She told us about her background in going to Harvard initially then Berkeley for her doctorate, working for a research institute and finally ending up in academia. She then told us how Simmons started to reorganize itself into the different colleges and how each program became a part of the college it is affiliated with.

Marie wanted to meet with SLIS students to gain a better understanding of what current students think of the program and how we think it might be able to be improved. Many of us suggested that we focus more on utilizing the information science aspect of the college while still maintaining a strong identity as a library school. We also discussed what makes Simmons stand apart from different library schools in that it helps students utilize the theory taught more and makes sure that students that graduate from the school are prepared to go out into the world of librarianship. Meeting with the Dean was a really cool event to see the more administrative side of things and see how the administration really wants to support the SLIS program to help us succeed not just as students but as future librarians and archivists. I'm really glad to be a part of a program where the administration really takes an interest in how the students feel about the program and constantly try to improve the school so that it looks better in the long run.

In addition to that, I was just told where my internship will be for my Intro to Archives class. I'll be interning at the City of Boston Archives over the next few weeks. My next blog should be about starting that and what my experience is like with the internship.

 

Events | People | SLIS | Students


Midwinter Tales

While I attended the ALA Annual Conference in D.C. this summer, I was busy working the Simmons booth and balancing my girlfriend's first visit to our nation's capital, so (while I had an AMAZING time) I didn't feel as though I had the full conference experience. This time was completely different! I was able to attend panels and discussions that spanned all of my library related interests, while still spending time with friends and family, as well as partaking in some delicious Philly food! 

I kicked off the conference by attending "Making Real Change: Moving Beyond the Interpersonal to Create Actual Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Environments for Both Library Users and Employees." I was a bit hesitant when the presenters did not appear to be POC, but I was put at ease when the presenters stated that they felt more white people should be putting in the work to combat white supremacy and oppression in LIS, instead of placing the onus on people of color. The section relied largely on discussion in small groups, so it was exciting to hear from the librarians from Arkansas, Maryland, and Illinois who were seated at my table. There was also a shout out to the Beatley Library Anti-Oppression LibGuide during the slideshow, which was very cool to see! Go Simmons! 


A quirky little aspect of Midwinter were these Short Story Dispensers! They brightened up my day any time I had a few minutes to spare between panels. You select how long you want to devote to reading (1, 3, or 5 minutes), press a button, and the machine prints you a story that resembles a CVS receipt. Here you can see a silly selfie and me reading Trampoline on the exhibit hall floor. 

 

On the POPTOP Stage, I was able to catch the majority of "Write Her Story: Re(Shaping) Feminist Narratives in YA Literature," featuring Samira Ahmed, Kim Liggett, and Abigail Hing Wen. All of these authors were new to me, so it was fabulous to hear them discuss their writing processes, inspirations, cultural backgrounds, and role models. 

 

A surprise standout panel for me was "Food Literacy for Families, Libraries, and Communities: South Carolina Read Eat Grow." The two librarians from the South Carolina State Library talked about bringing a mobile cooking station to libraries around the state, promoting food literacy, and teaching people of all ages and abilities how to cook. They also had these BEAUTIFUL little recipe cards that they handed out which detailed the steps to starting a food literacy program at your own library! I cannot recommend looking into their program enough

 

The final session that I sat in on was "Metadata Instruction Mobilizing and Human Rights Research in the Undergraduate Classroom." While the title might seem a little clunky, this talk was amazing! Undergrads studying history at the University of Alabama conducted original research looking into and documenting cases of lynchings throughout counties surrounding the school. The students were given a crash course in metadata and then set off to compile a digital humanities exhibition. 


One of the sections I attended on "Navigating Queer Realities in School Libraries" introduced me to one of my new favorite book-related comics by Grant Snider called "Books Art..." while discussing why diversity in books benefits everyone (and can even save lives). I also ran into my friend Aleks from high school, who recently finished her MLIS at Rutgers! The perks of Midwinter being 15 minutes from my hometown! 

 

I must admit that I got a little weepy during the "Not-Quite-Banned: Combating The Invisible Censorship of LGBTQIA+ Stories" panel, hearing authors describe the dismissal or vitriol they experienced due to the LGBTQIA+ content of their books. 


I was good and only left ALA with ONE SINGULAR BOOK from Orca Press -- and it wasn't even for me! My brother reaped the benefits, getting a fun new hockey read. I was excited to see Second Story Press next to Orca. It was lovely to browse their selections which (as you can see in the photo above) focus on "strong female characters, diversity, social justice, and children's empowerment." I also had a lovely chat at a booth for a publishing house that focuses on teaching children emotional intelligence through books! 

 

Conferences | Events | SLIS | Students


Week 2

Last week, I started student teaching at an elementary school in Waltham. I have never worked an 8-5 job before, so the first week was quite a shock. Getting used to the routine of being at school at a certain time and working with different grade levels is a lot to adjust to in the first week. In the first couple weeks, I mostly shadowed the librarian to get to know the students and other teachers in the school. By watching the librarian, I learn about what books the kids like to check out and how to engage the students in a read aloud.

The hard part about committing so much time to practicum (student teaching) is balancing the one other class. SLT students at Simmons only take one other class with practicum, and it is usually an elective. This semester, my one other class is the required LIS 460: Technology and the School Library Teacher.

I was so tired on Friday night after my first week that I didn't get to any studying that night. It ended up being a Netflix and cozy blanket night for me! Friday afternoon read aloud with a third-grade class was extra difficult due to my stuffed up nose. I tried to take all day Saturday to rest, but that meant getting more behind in my technology class. By the time I started my work due Tuesday night on Sunday, it felt like a lot of reading. Let's just say, I was overwhelmed.

This semester, my goal is to learn time management and self-care. One thing that is becoming very clear to me is that student teaching will not be easy. It can be very stressful for many students in the program, even those who do not struggle with extreme anxiety. Grad school and student teaching aren't easy. But those small moments in the day when a student is listening to you get excited about research or a student is looking to you for help finding a book makes this journey to a teaching license worth it.

Classes | SLIS | SLT | Students


Reflecting on Collection Development!

Let's talk about Collection Development and Management!  Week 3 of the semester just started, and my first big assignment is due in a few days.  As I mentioned in my last post, I don't have much, if any, practical experience in collection development--my current job as a Reference Assistant in an academic library mainly consists of me doing reference work, as well as some circulation and outreach.   Collection development is new territory for me, and I've been learning so much!  However, something that I have noticed is that there are common threads throughout a lot of my classes at SLIS, including this class.  Even though the overall topic may be new, there are elements that I'm building off of from other classes.  For example, in LIS 451: Academic Libraries, and LIS 404: Introduction to Management, we talked about how mission statements and core values informed the library and the overall structure of the organization, and how they relate to academic libraries (LIS 451) and management (LIS 404) in particular.  In this class, LIS 453: Collection Development and Management, we're talking about how mission statements and a library's core values or goals influence their collection development policy, and how both of those relate to the library's service population.  I never really considered that a mission statement could have anything to do with a collection development policy, so this week has been enlightening and it has also reminded me of some of my past classes.

Even though this class just started it's been really fun so far, and I've been really enjoying the pace of the class.  If you've read some of my past posts, you'll know that I've only taken online classes my entire time at Simmons.  Online classes at Simmons are great--there is always a participation component, and I truly feel that you do get to interact with your classmates even if you aren't "with" them in the traditional sense.  However, now that I've been here for a while, I've noticed that every class sort of approaches the participation a little bit differently. Some classes are more participation-heavy than others, some have more personal element to the participation forums,  some classes have live sessions, etc.  I have to say that I really like the approach that this class takes to the participation forums.  While the forums are an opportunity to interact with our classmates, a lot of the graded assignments and projects in this class build off of what we do in the forums, and by participating in the forums and completing the exercises, it really helps you get your assignments done.  For example, because I did my forum posts last week, I have almost all of my first assignment done.  In some of my other classes, the participation forums have been lively and informative, but have not really helped me finish a graded assignment or project.  However, I do appreciate the different approaches all of my previous classes at SLIS have taken to participation because all of them have helped me get to know my classmates and learn new skills. 

I'm really excited for the coming weeks of this class as we have some very interesting projects coming up!  I'll tell you all about them in my future posts!  Stay tuned!  

Classes | Online | SLIS | Students


Building Blocks

One of the things I love about my classes at Simmons is that they build on each other.  It's exciting when a topic I learned about in one class is referenced or expanded on in a different class.  It's fascinating to go more in depth on certain topics and to see how they tie together.  Even though this semester is only three weeks old, it has already referenced a lot of what was covered in my previous semesters.  

Collections Development has built on many of the subjects covered by Introduction to Management (LIS 404).  This includes types of budgets used by libraries, how those budgets are used, mission statements, and vision statements.  It has also mentioned environmental scanning, which is a topic that came up in Digital Libraries (LIS 462).  Environmental scanning entails keeping track of what similar libraries are doing in order to measure what your library is or is not doing, and what it can do in the future.  It's a way of staying competitive and relevant in the community.   

Metadata has expanded on topics introduced in Information Sources and Services (LIS 407) and will cover even more as the semester progresses.  Info Sources is one of our three required courses.  It gives an overview of many different methods and services used in libraries but doesn't go in depth because of time constraints.  I finished that class wanting to know more about what we covered, and I am really happy that I get to do this in metadata.  This week we're starting on Dublin Core, which is a standardized way to create metadata for a variety of objects.  It seems simple but it's actually pretty complicated, and I am looking forward to examining it more closely. 

I love learning more about these topics.  Having a thorough background in these topics gives me a lot of confidence.  Librarians deal with a lot of different procedures and pieces of information, and the more I get to know those pieces, the more successful I will be in the future. 

Classes | Learning | SLIS | skills


It's the Final Countdown!

Happy 2020, everyone! I've been kind of absent from the blog last semester, so I am way overdue on given y'all a HUGE life update. I'm officially in my final semester and I am busy. Last semester I had the opportunity to work for the Fine Arts Library at Harvard University as well as intern for the Museum of Fine Arts Registrar's Office. Now for anyone who doesn't know me, this was a dream come true! My background is in art history and I have always seen myself working in either a museum library or a specialized academic library. 

At Harvard, I was working as the Collection Assistant and was able to learn so much about how they run their library and also see first hand some of the incredible things that the Fine Arts Library collects. I also on a few occasions got to work with the paper conservator on flagging some materials for preservation. All the things I loved learning about in my classes were really coming into play in my new role. 

At the MFA, I was able to help them with their massive amount of incoming loans of artwork. It is a lot of paperwork but I genuinely love everything about it! It is so interesting to watch the whole exhibition planning process and learn more about the logistics that go on behind the scenes for all the artwork that you see on display in the galleries.  A lot of the work that I do with the MFA certainly overlaps with what I have learned at Simmons and in my library jobs. 

Now that I have given you guys a full update on what I was doing, I can update y'all on what I am doing now! For those who don't remember from previous blog posts, I had a summer internship at Fidelity Investments last year and over the winter break, I was offered a position as their new Research Content Specialist. Since I am still in school full time, I am only working there 3 days a week at the moment but come graduation I have the option to review my contract and see if a full-time gig is in the realm of possibilities! While I never would have really seen myself working in an investment library before that internship, I have really come to love the job and especially the other librarians I work with at Fidelity. A large part of my role there is the management and upkeep of the physical and digital investment library, including working largely with our serial subscriptions and such. 

So on top of leaving my job at Harvard and starting a new job at Fidelity this semester, I have also started my final semester as a full-time student taking one in-person class, LIS 477 Digital Asset Management, and two online, LIS 453 Collection Development and Management and LIS490 International and Comparative Librarianship. I never saw myself as someone who could tackle this much in one semester but I haven't slowed down yet. The end is near! Wish me luck!

 

Classes | Internships | Jobs | Real World | SLIS


Library Setup

I had my first assignment for Collections Development last week and it was very interesting.  Each student chose a different library to focus on for the semester, and the first thing we had to do was visit that library and observe how it was set up.  I visited my library late on a Thursday afternoon.  As I went through each room, I noted what was there and how it was arranged.  I also focused on who was there and what they were doing.  I normally don't spend a lot of physical time in the library because I request items through the online library catalog and go directly to the circulation desk to pick them up.  I know where everything is in the library, but I never thought about how it was arranged.  Obviously setting up a library is more complicated than simply placing books on shelves.  It must have an order and be easy to navigate.  I never had to think about that before, but I tried to keep that in mind when I browsed my library.   

The library I chose is small, but everything is organized very well.  The stacks were easy to maneuver, and there were lots of signs telling you where you were and where other items were located.  The lighting was bright and natural.  Every room had at least one study area and a few comfortable chairs.  There were several interactive activities set up for patrons, including a large chess set in the teen area and a community puzzle in one of the quiet rooms.  This particular library had murals on all the stairwell walls, which was a great use of space that is normally ignored.  It made me smile to see all the paintings of characters from books and pop culture.  There were a lot of people in the library, and they were using all parts of the library.  People were studying, working on the puzzles, using the computers, browsing, or simply hanging out.  It was awesome to see so many people using the library.

My main takeaway is that the library truly is a community space.  But how a library becomes a community space is complicated.  Librarians, specifically collections development librarians, are vital to making libraries successful.  They identify what the community needs and build a collection to serve and reflect the local population.  They will also anticipate what the community will need in the future.  Every library is different because every community is different.  I am really excited to delve deeper into how libraries develop their collections and am looking forward to the next assignment.

Classes | Learning | SLIS | Students


A Day in the Life of a School Library Teacher Student

It's the first week of classes, and yet all I want to do is stay under my blankets near the furnace. The average temperature in Boston right now is in the single digits, with the high being 15 F. This is Boston in January, I guess. As much as I want to stay under my blankets, I need to clean off my desk and sort through all my reading. For a library school student, you may be surprised to hear I am reading a guide on student teaching (also called Practicum Experience) requirements, CAP Guidelines as assigned by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Evaluation for Educators regulations as set by DESE, Waltham Public Schools' Kindergarten Curriculum for Information Literacy, and a syllabus for my online SLT Tech class. I am almost done with my school library concentration and well on my way to becoming a certified school librarian.

My placement is at a school in the far north part of Waltham, so a bit of a trek. Getting out to Waltham would be so much easier with a car, but I get terrified when I am driving. I know others who have a fear of driving, so that's why I like living in Boston. The bus route near where I live is almost always reliable, and most of the bus drivers are very nice folks. The only issue is the direct bus from Watertown to North Waltham is no longer a route, so that complicates my commute a bit.  

The moment I stepped into the library at my school, the librarian asked me to dump water out of a bowl. As soon as I did that, I had to resolve an argument with two little Kindergarten kiddos. Then, I was finally able to go behind the desk and look around the library. A few Kindergarten kids kept asking the librarian if they could stay longer to read. The kids didn't want to go to lunch - they'd rather be in the library. Just hearing those words and watching all the little ones sit in tiny chairs with books in their hands made me smile. I know I am in the right career.

After an hour visit of planning events at the school library, and lessons I need to teach for the practicum requirements (there's a lot of them!), I started my trip back to Boston. I took an Uber to Watertown to then wait for my bus. Just then, a sudden gust of wind came in. I love wearing dresses and skirts, especially skirts that go to my knees or long-sleeved dresses. I'm learning that dresses in winter is a bad idea because it is dreadfully hard to find good stockings that can keep my legs warm. Now I got to get back to all that dense readings I mentioned, so I can be ready for my first day of practicum next Tuesday.

Classes | SLIS | School Libraries | Students


New Year, New Semester

Happy New Year everyone!  Welcome to 2020 (although it is now halfway through January)!  I had about a month off of work and school and even though it was great to have time off, it's good to be back in the saddle again.  This week is the first week of the Spring 2020 semester for me here at Simmons, and it is also the first week of the Spring 2020 semester for the students at the university library where I work, so things have been busy for me both at school and at work! 

This semester I'm taking LIS 453: Collection Development and Management, although sadly I'm not in the same section as Amie.  I'm very excited for this class and to learn more about how library collections are developed and maintained and get a thorough understanding of the collections process. While a few of my previous classes have briefly touched on some topics relating to this, such as budgeting and weeding, this class is going to be an in-depth look at collection development as a whole.  Also, I don't really have much, if any, practical collection development experience, so I'm excited to be taking this class to learn more about the overall process!  

The class just started a few days ago, so I don't have too much to tell you yet, but the upcoming assignments look really intriguing!  I'll keep you updated on my progress throughout the semester!

Classes | Learning | SLIS


Ready to Go!

It was nice to have a few weeks off but I'm ready for classes to start again.  2020 is going to be an important year for me.  Not only is it a big birthday year (I'm entering a new decade!), but it's the year I'll be graduating.  Since I have a lot to do between now and the end of the year, I started browsing the Simmons Career Education Center website to see if it offered anything to help me through the process.  It turns out that the CEC offers a lot of services to students and alumni.  I was a little overwhelmed by all the options, to be honest, but I found two things that seem especially useful: the resume review service and the career fairs.  I could use some feedback on my resume.  I am not sure it's as strong as it could be, so I'm going to make an appointment to have someone from Simmons review it.

This will be especially important because I'm planning on attending at least one of the career fairs that Simmons will be offering in February, March, and April.  I don't think I can make it to all three, but I'm going to try.  It's never too early to start thinking about job opportunities and making connections.  It's good to practice talking to employers about who I am and what I am looking for in a library job.  Plus, I get to hand out my business cards along with my updated resume.  All Simmons SLIS students can order business cards through our Student Services office , and I ordered mine last year when I started classes.  I think they will come in handy at the career fairs.

While I'm happy to have a plan for the coming months, I'm also happy to focus on the present.  Classes start this week and I am excited.  I switched from Information for Diverse Users to Collections Development and Management because I thought it would be useful to learn about that aspect of library work.  For this class, each student gets to pick a library to focus on for assignments throughout the semester.  This allows us to get an in-depth view of how the collections process works.  I also finally get to take the Metadata class.  I've wanted to take it for a while, but I couldn't fit it in my schedule until now.  Overall, I think this should be a very productive and enlightening semester.       

Classes | Getting a Job | Resources | SLIS


Public Art in Providence

At the close of last semester, I was able to participate in one of my favorite final projects I've ever done! For LIS 446: Art Documentation with Ann Graf we were tasked with cataloging three instances of public art in a location of our choosing. I partnered up with my good pal Willa, and we decided to explore Providence. I took the commuter rail from Boston (how does Willa do it every time we have class?) to Providence on a frigid but sunny day, and we set off to observe and take pictures of the works we had selected. 

The first piece we chose was Dear Urban Females (2019) by AGONZA. It is located on the back of the Weybossett Facade if you want to take a look for yourself! 

AGONZA is the truly rad woman and artist of color responsible for this piece, which was created as a tribute to strong urban women of all backgrounds. Dear Urban Females is a self-portrait of sorts. AGONZA was born in Providence, but spent her formative years in the Dominican Republic and has many cultural influences, so each panel features an earring with a different national flag. The center panel has the Black power fist combined with the feminine symbol, highlighting the intersectional identity of the artist and themes of the piece. 

Here is a close up image of the work, as well as a snippet from our record. We went really specific on the subject matter, using the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus as our controlled vocabulary. 

I was ecstatic to be able to get in contact with AGONZA after reaching out to her on Facebook. She provided me with additional information to insure that our records were correct and true to her vision for the work. Our discussion bought additional subjects, such as PTSD and mental health to light. I was already won over as a fan, but chatting with AGONZA cemented that status for life.

The next piece we chose to feature was Still Here (2018) by Gaia. As you can see by the photo, Still Here is MASSIVE. The piece is located on Custom House Street facing the Blackstone Canal, and takes up the side of the entire 5 story building.  

This work calls attention to the Indigenous history and people of Rhode Island. We loved that this piece is so large that it is literally incapable of being ignored. Still Here was created in collaboration with the Tomaquag Museum, and features Narragansett woman and educator Lynsea Montanari holding a portrait of Princess Redwing (the founder of the museum) to celebrate Indigenous resilience. It was fun trying to identify all of the flora and fauna in the piece, as well as figure out if they were properly represented in our available vocabularies. 

 

I took this pretty comical (to me, at least) photo of Willa and I attempting to measure the width of Still Here with a not quite 25 foot measuring tape. From there, we employed MATH in order to estimate how many feet tall the piece was.

 

The final piece we chose was The Revolution Starts with the Earth (2019) by Jess X. Snow. Jess X. Snow is a queer woman of color and a RISD grad!

This piece was inspired by the thesis work of Gavriel Cupita-Zorn on connections between oppressed populations, and brings the conflicts of the US/Mexico border and the Israel/Palestine border into conversation. The work is surrounded by a chain link fence, which mediates the viewing and may further enhance a viewer's experience of the piece. The two women pictures are Vanessa Flores-Maldonado and Amira, who both work as activists based in Providence and New Orleans Respectively. 

This project was so fun to work on that Willa and I have made plans to expand our public art cataloging in the future! I hope everyone has had a great new year so far and that you find something that makes you as excited as this project makes me! 

 

Classes | Projects | SLIS


Spring 2020 Classes

I figured it was probably time for me to post about what classes I'm taking next semester considering the fall semester is more or less done. I'll actually be taking four classes over the Spring semester. One of my weekly classes will LIS 438 Intro to Archives. It will be my first archives course and it includes a 60 hour internship so I'm pretty excited to start it and learn more about what will hopefully be my eventual career. Another weekly class will be LIS 407 Information Services. It's one of the required courses for the LIS program and sounds similar to LIS 415 which I enjoyed. My last weekly course will be HIST 574 Modern US History. I'm a big US history buff and am mostly interested in modern history so this class will be one that I hope to take the methods that I learned from my current history course and be able to apply them. Finally, my last course is actually not weekly. Instead it will take place entirely over spring break so I'm glad to have the opportunity to get a little ahead in my courses by taking an extra class over the break. The class is LIS 472 Moving Image Archives which goes in line with my eventual career goal to work for Disney in the archives as many of their materials are film cels and documents. The next semester will definitely be an intense one with taking four classes but I am looking forward to all of them and how they will help me in my journey towards becoming an archivist

Archives | Classes | SLIS | Students


End of Semester

Unlike my classmates in LIS 483, I submitted my final paper almost a week after the last class. If I have learned anything this semester, it is that we are all human - trying to make a difference in this field of library science. This semester hasn't been easy, but I made it through with the help of two amazing professors. Amy Pattee has been with SLIS for fifteen years now, helping prepare Simmons students to go out into the world after graduation.

One time I was at my local Boston Public Library branch seeking help from the children's librarian (who also manages the teen/YA collection), and I showed her my Moodle course page for LIS 483: Library Collections and Materials for Young Adults (taught by Pattee). It was so fun seeing the librarian's reaction to what I am studying. The fun part is that about ten years ago, this librarian in the Brighton area of Boston also had Pattee as her LIS 483 professor at Simmons. This is just one example of how the professors you have in Simmons' library science classes will be valuable networking connections as you go out into the field.

This particular course was hard for me because my brain had to figure out how to not think in general statements such as "all teens like reading fantasy." These statements are not how we should be looking at our young patrons in the field of youth services. It took some time to deveope this concept and fully grasp it. It wasn't just me, though. Talking to my classmates, I could see that quite a few of my peers struggled with the concepts we were learning in this course. 

On the morning of my last class with Pattee, I had to send her an emotionally hard email. I told my professor that mentally there was no way I could get my paper done before class with tragedy hitting my family all at once. I expected Pattee to tell me I have until Friday or Saturday, but she let me grieve through the pain and gave me a gracious extension on my paper. Moral of the story: no matter how hard you are on yourself, SLIS professors want you to succeed and getting to know them just may be the key to networking (which later leads to your dream library science job). 

Classes | Real World | SLIS | Students


Two Years Down!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am now officially halfway through my program!  I started at Simmons back in Spring 2018, and I have completed 18 of the 36 credits needed to get my MS in Library and Information Science.  WOO!!!  I've learned so much in these past two years, and I've grown a lot as a person.   Last December, I did a post of the lessons I learned and my takeaways from the program, and I thought I would expand on that now that I'm halfway done. 

  • I've learned so much over the past two years.  I came to Simmons with no library experience whatsoever, and getting this degree has been such an education for me.  My first year I took all the core classes, so that really laid the foundation of learning about search strategies, information organization, technology, and professional standards in the LIS industry; whereas this year I took all electives that helped me explore different areas of LIS, and helped supplement my knowledge. 
  • I've learned the importance of having goals.  All of us came to Simmons with one goal in common--to get our degree, but it's important to also have your own personal goals as well. 
  • I've learned that there is no "right" way to do this degree.  Simmons has so many options so you can make this degree work with your lifestyle.  You can go to school full-time, part-time, or take one class at a time (like me!).  You can do all of your classes online, you can take them all in Boston, you can take them all at the SLIS West campus, or you could mix and match as you like.  The only thing you have to do is meet the program requirements and complete the program within six years.  If you are willing to put in the time, money, and effort to get this degree, make it work for you. 
  • I've learned to make the most of my time in grad school.  You get out of the program what you put in to it and I'm hoping to get as much experience as possible and to take advantage of all the opportunities available to me. 
  • Getting involved and getting experience is so, so, so important.  This was in my post last year, but I'm doubling down on it this year.  Whether it is volunteering in a library, getting a job, joining a professional organization, joining a club at Simmons, volunteering at SLIS (like writing a blog post here!), or something else, it can help you become more connected with the industry and with the program and can lead to more opportunities later on.  Getting involved and getting real-life experience has been invaluable for me. 
  • I've learned that all assignments are important, and will help you in your career.  For example, this year I learned how to prepare a grant proposal.  I had grant proposal assignments in two of my classes this year, and going through the process of writing a grant proposal is an incredibly valuable real-world skill. 
  • I've joined a few professional organizations!  Last year I joined the American Library Association and the Massachusetts Library Association, and this year I continued my membership with both of them and I also added memberships to the Association of College and Research Libraries and the New England Library Association. 
  • I've learned the importance of thinking about and planning for the future.

These are just a few of my thoughts on my time in the program so far.  I've made a lot of strides both personally and professionally over the past two years, and I'm excited to see what the future holds!  I know there's a lot of hard work up ahead, but I'm looking forward to what comes next.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season! 

Learn more about SLIS here!

Learning | Resources | SLIS | Students


Moving Across the Country

In September, I moved to Boston from Texas so I could attend Simmons and try and get a real winter. I'm only 3 months in and it's already way colder here than it ever gets in Texas.

I wanted to go over some of the things that were part of the challenge of moving here and how Simmons helped me with the move. The major thing was finding a place to live which can be difficult wherever you go. Finding a comfortable space that is also affordable is a challenging process. Thankfully, Simmons has a really great listing that students can access that lists available places within the area. It took me a while but I managed to find a little place in West Roxbury that a Simmons alum owns and managed to find a great roommate.

The next thing to deal with was how to get to school and figuring out public transportation for the first time. In Texas, there's no real convenient transportation service because everybody has cars and because Texas is such a big state. Its challenging and frustrating at times but getting to learn the MBTA has been a fun thing to do as a way to learn more about the city.

Finally, deciding which classes to take and which ones are required has been a major point of moving to Boston. As an Archives and History student, I have some structured courses that are required but I have enough flexibility to be able to take courses that still interest me like an upcoming one called Moving Image Archives that fits very well with my interests and eventual career goals. Moving across the country has been a challenge but I encourage everybody to do something similar at least once to get yourself out of your comfort zone and see how other places are similar yet different.

 

Boston | Resources | SLIS | Students | Weather


End of Semester Thoughts

I can't believe the semester is over already!  I have completed all my assignments except for a group project, but that is 90% done and will be submitted by the time this blog is posted.  I'm happy that I made it through unscathed, and I'm also happy that I won't ever have to take three classes in one semester again.  It was doable, but definitely required a lot of focus and I couldn't shake the feeling that I had forgotten about an assignment (I never did, but I also constantly checked my syllabi to make sure I was covered!).  I will be glad to get back to only two classes next semester.

I think the biggest lesson I learned from my classes this semester was how broad the field of librarianship really is.  The Digital Libraries course expanded my concept of what a library is and showed me how much work goes into setting up a digital library.  It requires a lot of people from different areas to work together to provide something functional and useful.  It involved issues that I never considered before, including making sure copyright is legal and ensuring that the images are all searchable and expandable.  I'm particularly interested in the metadata, and I'm excited to learn more about it in my metadata class next semester.  My Social Informatics class forced me to think about how librarians can connect all people to all library services.  It showed that technology and social media can be vital for libraries, but there also needs to be engagement between librarians and patrons of all abilities.  Inclusion is very important, and this is another topic that I will be exploring next semester in my Info Services for Diverse Users class.  And lastly, my Intro to Programming course showed me new ways that technology can be used in libraries.  I'm really interested in creating or teaching programming classes for library patrons, especially kids and older adults.  I think this course was a great first step to help me get closer to that goal.

Even though I enjoyed this semester, I am really looking forward to winter break!  I am going to read a lot and knit a lot and eat a lot, too.  I'll see you all next year! 

Classes | SLIS | skills