Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Adventures in Reference

It's week 5 and I still haven't gotten the hang of how fast summer courses go by.  Including this week, there are only three weeks left in the semester.  *takes a few deep, calming breaths.*  How did that happen?  Basically, because all I've been focusing on is my schoolwork and how to get everything done on time without cramming.  I've been keeping a very regular study schedule so that I don't get behind.  When I get home from work, I eat, then do school work, and on the weekends, I spend a lot of time finishing up projects.  There really is no time to procrastinate or take a break, and the time has gone by in a blur.  But, I am loving both of my classes and have learned a ton already.

I'm particularly enjoying LIS 407, Information Sources and Services.  It's all about reference services--basically, teaching us how to search more efficiently and effectively.  We've learned many searching strategies, including how to combine those techniques to broaden or narrow our results, and how to conduct a reference interview to help patrons find what they need.  Our assignments have been to answer a list of questions, which can be anything from "tell me about the origin of this word" to "who was this person" to "how can I find information on this subject."  It seems simple but it's not.  In fact, it took me hours to complete these assignments, and for the most part I was frustrated and not very happy with the sources that I found. 

The main problem is that I'm searching not only for the answer to the question, but for the correct place to search.  There are many different types of sources, including encyclopedias, almanacs, yearbooks, and gazetteers (yes, that's a real word for a geographical index).  It's not as easy as typing "encyclopedia" in the Simmons Library catalog, because there are literally thousands of encyclopedias.  You have to wade through a lot of information and may have to try several search techniques and combinations to end up with a useful result.  Right now, I'm not familiar with all the reference sources that Simmons has, and I have had to search through their database or journal list to just to decide where to start searching.  Also, not all the sources are online, which is frustrating because I have gotten several appropriate search results that have been physical books, which I cannot access.  Luckily, I'm not the only one struggling.  My classmates have all commented on how difficult it's been to search.  We are all, myself included, so used to Googling everything, that it's a real eye opener to use other, more quality search engines.  

The good news is that I am confident that my skills will improve with practice.  Once I am more familiar with the particular reference sources available to me, I will be able to search more quickly, and won't have to waste time on where to start or wading through sources that aren't very helpful.  I actually like the search process, which is surprising to me because I never considered being a reference librarian.  It's like a treasure hunt, and very rewarding when you can help people with their questions.  I'm looking forward to continuing to hone my searching skills.  The learning curve is steep, but I know I'll be able to conquer it eventually.  

Classes | SLIS | Summer | skills


Baby's First ALA

A few weeks ago I took part in a librarian rite of passage, and made my way down to Washington D.C. for the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition. 

As a grad student on a tight budget (especially a full time grad student living in Boston), attending conferences can be expensive. That is why I was extra thankful that LISSA offers Professional Development Reimbursement at Simmons! More information on PDR funds can be found here, but essentially LISSA will reimburse students for up to $250 incurred by engaging in LIS-related professional development activities. My $250 went directly towards my ALA experience, including covering a good chunk of the gas I purchased making the 879 mile journey from Boston to Washington, D.C. and back. This ALA trip truly was brought to you by a giant cooler filled with sandwiches, a 15 hour long playlist, PDR funds, and lots of iced coffee! 

As you probably know by now, one of my jobs is working as a SLIS Admission Student Ambassador. This meant I also manned the Simmons booth at ALA with SLIS various faculty and staff. It was great to interact with tons of alums, as well as a few prospective students.

 

Heading into ALA, my co-workers had warned me to pack light, anticipating bringing back boxes and boxes of advanced reader copies (ARCs) from vendors and publishers, but I was still shocked by the smorgasboard of amazing literature to pick from walking the booths of the exhibition hall. I walked away with one or *echem* six bags of books that I can't wait to dive into, as well as a few titles to pre-order. I was able to score books that perfectly fit the interests of each of my family members. A book detailing a conversation between Michelle Obama and Melania Trump played into mine and my mother's love for first ladies. My Game of Thrones fanatic father was gifted a book that provided a look at the historical events that loosely inspired the series. It's sometimes hard to tell, but I think my sporty teenage brother was excited by a book penned by Kobe Bryant that combines magic and athleticism. 

While the ALA conference was my first priority, how could I not take in the beautiful sights of D.C. in my spare moments?  

Of course I was able to explore the mall, dodge electric scooters, and coo over the baby ducklings in the reflecting pool. I also managed to catch up with some old friends!  

Because museums are my happy place,  I had to be sure to check out the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Here are two of my favorite pieces from the museum! 

 

Lastly, I was able to swing down to the National Archive for another peek at the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while many of the Smithsonian museums have extended hours in the summer, many of them stay open until midnight on the days surrounding the summer solstice. Luckily for us librarians, the solstice and the ALA overlapped, allowing me to explore the museum of natural history late into the evening. 

My first ALA was definitely one for the books. I'll see all of you in Chicago for ALA 2020! 

Fun | SLIS | Student Groups | Summer | conferences


The Dog Days of Summer

It's Week 4 of LIS 404!  Oh, my goodness, this class has been keeping me on my toes!  As I've said before, this class is a lot shorter than a regular semester class, but we're doing the same amount of work, which is a little bit intense!  There's a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, so each week there's an abundance of readings to be completed, notes to go over, and lectures to watch.  I know that theoretically it is same amount of work as a regular semester class just in an accelerated timeframe, but between this class and my summer class last year, I feel that there is a lot more reading in summer classes than there is during the semester.  However, this could just be because of the timing- maybe I just don't notice the amount of reading as much because it is more spaced out during the regular semester classes?   

These past two weeks have been more 'participation' weeks rather than 'assignment' weeks, with us participating more on the forums and wikis instead of having papers or projects to turn in.  Last week we learned about Organizational Culture, Personality, Decision Making, and Strategic Management.  In one of our forums we took the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test and shared our results and a brief summary of our background and it was one of the most interesting and enjoyable assignments that I've had since starting at SLIS.  In online classes sometimes it feels like we don't get to know our classmates except for maybe a brief hello during the first week in the introduction forums, so it was nice to have an opportunity to get to "meet" my classmates and get to know them on a deeper level.   I really  enjoy it when the online classes feel less remote and more personal!  Additionally, I've always been fascinated by the Jung Typology/Myers Briggs Personality Test.  I've taken the test a few times before, and according to my results I'm an INTJ.  If you are interested in taking an online, free version of the test, this is the version that we took for class. 

The remaining half of this class is going to be a lot of hard work, but the material is really interesting and engaging!  Wish me luck!

Classes | Learning | SLIS | Summer


To All the Bookstores I Ever Loved

Now that summer has officially started, I am finding myself with something I almost never have, extra free time! I am interning full-time this summer so I am still busy throughout the day but it is so nice to be able to leave my work at the office and come home and not have to worry about catching up on my assignments or readings for class. So obviously, my conclusion for how to occupy all this new free time is that I can finally start catching up on all my leisure reading. 

This also means I have to make a trip to my favorite bookstore because you can never have too many books. I live pretty close to Brookline, and Coolidge Corner has always been one of my favorite areas to take a stroll and hang out when the weather is nice. The Trader Joe's is there, a great tea shop, a yoga studio (I keep saying I will take a class at one of these weekends), and best of all Brookline Booksmith, (a used and new bookstore.) I have spent many hours in their basement going through their new additions cart of used books.

 My latest trip over to pick up some summer reading though gave me the idea for this post: I want to find all the best local bookstores in Boston!   I'm a creature of habit and once I find a place I like I just frequent them exclusively but now living in a big city that has a lot of options I need to work on broadening my horizons! 

One of the areas I always seem to hang out is Cambridge since my cousin and I are obsessed with a Mexican restaurant there called Felipe's (they have a rooftop and frozen margs, need I say more). So one day when I had enough free time and before meeting up for dinner, I explored the Cambridge area hunting for good bookstores. That is how I stumbled upon some of the best news. Harvard Book Store has an annual summer sale at their warehouse location! So like any avid reader and deal hunter, I planned my whole weekend around attending their sale and it was magical. They had everything new books, old books, popular reads, they even had a sections for older, more rare books! I had to definitely reel myself in on a feel occasions just because I knew I had to carry everything I bought home and it was a long ride home.  It was certainly a workout hauling all of my new finds home but it was well worth it (I even got a coupon to use at their normal storefront!).

With my haul safely home, it goes without saying that I will be quite busy now with all my new books to read this summer. I still have plans to explore other bookshops around Boston this summer, my next one being More than Words Bookstore which is perfectly located near the Sowa Market.

Fun | SLIS | Summer | reading


The Summer Semester Has Begun!

The summer semester has begun!  This summer I am taking one class, LIS 404: Principles of Management.  Summer classes at SLIS are shorter in length than normal semester classes, but have the same amount of work.  My class this summer is only seven weeks long.  You may have noticed in Amie's post that she is also taking LIS 404, and we are both in the same online class section, so that's exciting! 

The really good thing about this class is that all of the course content is available, so we truly can move at our own pace.  There are due dates of course, but if I want to see what assignments are coming up, or work ahead, I have the option to do so.  For my summer course last year, there was a lot of "locked" course content, everyone had to move at the same pace.  I understand the logic behind that, but with the shortened time frame and so many things being due each week, I really appreciate being able to know what is coming up and schedule my time accordingly, instead of getting access to each week as it comes, and scheduling it that way.   When the Moodle page for the course first opened up, my original plan for this course was to try and stay a week ahead---that did not happen.  We're in to Week 2 now, and I am not ahead of the game.  I've been scheduling time every day to work on schoolwork, and I'm chugging along.  There's just so much content.  We have a paper, a crisis communications assignment, and two forums this week, along with readings, notes, and lectures.  All of the things we're learning about are incredibly interesting though. This week we're focusing on Organizational Structure and Communication.  I've been really fascinated by the readings this week because I was a Communication Studies major during undergrad and my concentration was in interpersonal and organizational communication, so I've been making connections with the content that I'm learning now with the content that I learned several years ago. 

This course is going to be a lot of hard work, and it is definitely going to keep me busy, but I'm up for the challenge!  

Classes | SLIS | Summer | Workload


Back at It

                Summer break #1 is over.  It was nice to have a few weeks off, even though I was lazy and didn't do a lot of the things I meant to do.  But I got to relax, which is great because I don't think I'm going to relax again until the end of summer term.  I'm taking two classes, LIS 407: Information Sources and Services, and LIS 404: Principles of Management.  Each week of a summer course is equivalent to two weeks of a fall or spring course, so there is a lot of work.  I was expecting this, but I was still shocked when I saw the syllabus for each class.  There is a ton of reading.  A TON.  It's pretty intimidating.  I am going to have to be super organized to fit in all the reading and the assignments each week.  I know I can do it, but I'm probably going to be miserable the whole time.

                Having said this, I managed to make it through my first week unscathed, and only a teeny bit grumpy 😊   Luckily, both classes are extremely interesting and have already given me a lot to think about.  LIS 407 is about how to help others find information, and this week we learned about reference librarians and the reference interview.  The main thing I learned is that there really is an art to helping people find what they are looking for.  You have to ask open-ended questions, closed questions and evaluate the needs of the patrons in a relatively short period of time.  You also have to be a quick thinker.  I am slightly terrified by reference work, because I like to be prepared for everything and couldn't handle being in a situation where I was asked questions I didn't know the answer to all day.  But a part of me also thinks that it would be exciting and a great opportunity to learn about a lot of diverse subjects.  I'm looking forward to learning more in the weeks to come.

                In LIS 404, we looked at classical and modern management theories.  I have very little knowledge of systems of management, and everything was pretty new for me here.  One of our assignments was to find an image of a specific theory, post it to our class board, and then comment on the images.  That was overwhelming.   Most of the images contained a lot of jargon and were very busy and not straightforward.  All the arrows and circles and flourishes left me pretty confused, and I wasn't the only one.  The general consensus among my classmates was that most of the images were ineffective and confusing.  We'll be expanding on a lot of these concepts in the future, and it will be interesting to look back at these images at the end of the semester to see if I understand them any better. 

                I have two papers due at the end of next week, which I'm already a bit stressed about.  I want to finish at least one of them before the week is over, so that I don't have to juggle both this weekend.  Fingers crossed I can manage it!

SLIS | Summer | classes


SLIS Tavern Night

Our amazing end of the year event for SLIS took place at a Tavern Night hosted at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum! Each one of the actors stayed so perfectly in character that when Paul Revere told me to follow him for the "baby shower," I was frazzled and felt the need to clarify that we were library students here for a tavern night! It quickly became apparent that the "shower" was just a cover for our booze-filled gathering, which was illegal by 1773 standards.

I rubbed elbows with John Hancock and his Aunt Lydia, Dorothy Quincy, Samuel Adams, and several other relevant Bostonians. Each actor was believably living in 1773, and kept throwing various "easter eggs" that were particularly funny if you're well versed in history! I grew up attending Renaissance Fairs, was a "theatre kid" in high school, minored in Art History in college, and have two history-loving parents, so this was quite my cup of tea (pun intended)! As a budding information professional I was ALSO very impressed that the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum's website featured an extensive reference page! We love citing sources!

For the tavern night, I was sat at Dorothy Quincy's table! I might be a bit biased, but I'm convinced she was the best of the lot. I am a firm believer that you get back what you put in, so I was pepperring Dorothy with questions about her family, gown, and political leanings, as well as her relationship with John Hancock! Two fun interactions: I wear a ring from my alma mater Mount Holyoke, and was able to play our founder Mary Lyon, upon Dorothy seeing the date on the ring and exclaiming that I must be planning to FOUND a school in 1837, as it was 64 years in the future. In a much more contemporary vein, I could barely contain my laughter as I tried to explain the TV show "The Bachelorette" to Dorothy Quincy and John Hancock as if it were a series of ads in the local newspaper. Overall the night was not only hilarious, but also an excellent exercise in history, communication, and out of the box thinking.

Dinner was delicious and I definitely enjoyed the "delicate selection of fruits," and the "roasted sweet meat of swine." I snagged a picture of the beautifully displayed "rosemary roasted chicken's legs." Everything felt so fancy! I also can't complain about the open bar, which allowed me to sample "grog," and old fashioned Dark and Stormy drinks!

Other activities for the night included singing tons of 1773-esque songs, as well as learning a line dance of sorts! You can tell we're a fun crowd because everyone grabbed a partner and was up on their feet.

We ended the night with another one of my favorite activities: a word game! The tavern night concludes with a red coat getting extremely drunk. Our task as word conessieurs was to string together phrases to describe just how intoxicated the red coat was.

It truly was a night full of drinking, giggling, and merriment! The tavern night was just what I needed to close out the semester, celebrate being halfway through my SLIS courses, and gear up for summer.

Events | Fun | SLIS | Student Groups


Guest Blog Post - MLA Conference Experience - Professional Development

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some highlights from my favorite speakers and workshops:

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

    • Focus on being respectful versus being right

    • Admit when you have made an assumption about someone else

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

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Recommended resources: Project Ready

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

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

    • Reach out to schools and library book groups to participate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Urban Fiction Themes: Church drama, cheaters, payback

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

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

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

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

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

    • Normalize conversations about race

    • Identify your audience and prioritize them based on greatest need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Summer Reading

Summer Reading

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

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

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling:

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

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

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

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

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

Bloomability by Sharon Creech

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

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

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

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

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

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Books | Fun | Relaxing | Summer


Finding and Landing a Summer Internship

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

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

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

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

 

Internships | SLIS | Summer | skills


Reading and Volunteering

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

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

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

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

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

Relaxing | Summer | volunteering


Fourth Class: Complete!

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

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

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

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

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

Books | Finals | Online | SLIS | Summer


Trying my Hand at Student Leadership

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

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

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

 

Fun | Leadership | SLIS | Student Groups | Students


(Graf)fiti Walk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Events | SLIS | Students


End of Semester Reflections

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

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

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

Classes | SLIS | Students | Summer


One Week Left!

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

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

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

PS: Congratulations Megan!!!!! 

SLIS | Students | classes


Wrapping Up Two and a Half Years

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

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

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

MegOndricek.jpg

GroupWest.jpg

Graduation | SLIS | SLIS West


Almost There

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

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

Fun | SLIS | Summer


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

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

Some of the top highlights from the career fair were:

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

Books | Classes | SLIS | YA Literature | classes