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A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

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Time Management

About ten years ago, I had a very high profile job.  I carried a Blackberry (when that was a new, cool thing), was on call all the time, and regularly handled work issues at night and on the weekend while doing something else.  It was not unusual for me to be working while I was at book club, or away for the weekend with my husband, or at the beach.  I totally thrived on the stress and excitement. 

Then I had kids, and realized that talking to a newspaper reporter while my children were in the bathtub was not something to be proud of, so I left that job.

I stopped multitasking and honed my scheduling and time management skills.  I ditched the Blackberry, and waited several years before I got an iPhone.   I realized I  not only loved doing just one thing at a time, but I performed better when I did things one at a time.  I was present, in the moment, with my kids.  I found interesting freelance work that fit my schedule.  I waited to answer emails and calls until I was ready to answer them.  My mind was happy.

Then I signed up for an online class.

Everyone says that online classes let you do the work on your own schedule, but that's not proving to be the case for me.  It's only the second week, and I already feel like I'm behind.  Because people can do the work whenever they want, I can see who has already signed up for a presentation topic or contributed to a discussion in Moodle, and I have a constant feeling that I'm missing something.  Sure, there were two snow days this week, and I worked twice the shifts I usually work at the library, since we're down a staff person, so I've had less (read: no) big blocks time for my schoolwork.  And it's been really hard to get any schoolwork done in the pockets of time that do appear.  Every time I say, "oh, the kids are playing quietly, I'll just log on to Moodle and do part of an assignment," I see how much everyone else has done and freak out.  Or I post something, and then get overwhelmed with all the emails telling me other people have posted replies, because I don't have time to read the replies because the kids are no longer playing quietly and in fact are screaming their heads off and I need to make them dinner and their school is closed again tomorrow and we need to shovel and the house is a disaster.

Deep breath.

I know it will get better and I'll find a groove with the online class.  I can schedule smaller chunks of time for schoolwork throughout the week, rather than fewer, larger blocks.  My time management skills are sharp, and I really enjoy school, work, and, most of all, my family.  Making all of those things fit into a week is totally doable (as long as we don't get another blizzard anytime soon... I refuse to look at Monday's forecast...).

Wish me luck.

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Welcome to 2015!

Fourth semester at SLIS.

Here we go!

Indeed, it seems that the month of January has just flown on by. But unlike some of you, I have spent about 95% of it here in Boston rather then home with my family. The reason? Well, it's because the offices at my job, as a student worker at the student services center (haha shameless plug), were open as we prepped for both the New Year and new students. With so much to do, I've lost track of the time. Instead of spending the days at home, lounging around, I was on my feet, running around and performing key tasks. Working from the perspective of being behind the scenes, I must vocalize my respect for all of those who are part of SLIS faculty and staff. These men and women are some of the most dedicated individuals I've ever seen. In the days leading up to the Spring 2015 Orientation, I watched as everyone in SLIS came together, both student workers and members of the faculty and staff, to ensure that we gave our newest students a warm welcome to both Boston and to SLIS. It is remarkable how many things must be organized and completed for an event that is less then twelve hours. And yet, everyone involved with the event was on campus each day, working as hard as possible to ensure that everything ran smoothly. From my office at the Student Services Center, myself and the other student worker spent the first three weeks of January prepping folders, checking names, organizing the day's events, and finalizing which snacks would be served. It was quite the effort but I can honestly say that the reward was worth it. Spring 2015 Orientation went off without any problems. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it was fantastic to be here on campus to greet the new students. Oh, and in case you are one of the students who joined me and Lindsey McEwen for our tour of SLIS and the Simmons academic campus, thank you for being a great audience and putting up with us on our first ever Simmons tour. I hope all of the new students, along with everyone else, enjoyed their first week of classes. 

Although I've been on Simmons campus since the 6th of January, coming in last Tuesday for my first class of the week (I have another Thursday evening and am also taking an online course), it felt somewhat strange sitting down in a classroom and taking my first batch of notes of the year! Unlike times in the past, I wasn't hit with a wave of "First Day of School Jitters". This time around, I was ready and excited to be back in student mode. However, considering the snow storm about to hit us, one that I am affectionately calling "Snow-ocolpyse", my second week of school is starting to look like it will be a short one. Unlike most sane people, I am actually really excited for the snow; it is why winter is my number one favorite season! While I'm not a big fan of the harsh, bitter cold itself, news of snowfall will always bring a smile to my face. While I selected Simmons College for grad school due to its reputation for the library and information science program, I'll confess its location might have had something to do with my ultimate decision. But despite my joy about our impending blanket of snow, I will acknowledge that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Considering the Weather Channel's blizzard predictions, I do urge that people stay inside where it is warm for the next few days. While the city of Boston is fairly good about clearing the roads, it is often better to be safe than sorry. I know with certainty that my three roommates and I are preparing for a potential snow day, one filled with movies, video games, and hot chocolate. I'll probably take a ton of pictures from my apartment to capture the winter magic.

While as of Monday morning, school is still scheduled for tomorrow, I hope that everyone takes the precautions that they need in order to stay safe. Drive carefully and be mindful of black ice. Otherwise, I hope that everyone finds some enjoyment in tonight's and tomorrow's snowfall. I know that I will!

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So it Begins

There is not much to say this week. Classes started, and work and my internship continued. Reading through my course syllabi and writing all the due dates for each class's papers and presentations into my planner next to my work hours, suddenly the new semester became real. Seeing everything on paper like that made it click, so to speak, in my brain.

Apart from being overwhelming, there were also a lot of good moments in my week where I got to catch up with peers whom I hadn't seen since last semester. Now that I'm further along in my program, it's pleasant to be in courses with people I've gotten to know in previous semesters, either through classes or student groups. A lot of my projects involve group work, so it's nice to be able to eliminate the anxiety I felt in the past over not knowing who would make a good teammate.

In retrospect, I can say that previous anxiety was entirely unfounded. I think one of my favorite parts of SLIS and information science in general is the quality of people I've found in the program and in the field. Everyone seems so smart, passionate, and dedicated, as well as fun, unpretentious, and a bit nerdy (in the best way). It's one thing to love what you do, but it's even better to also love the people who do what you do.

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Who Am I Scheduling For: Me or My Kids?

Well hello, second semester!  It's nice to see you.  And I think I'm going to enjoy your courses, even though I picked them based on what was offered at a time that still allowed me to pick my kids up at school every day, and not really based on what I actually wanted to take.

Sigh. 

Last fall, when we were registering for the spring semester, I had a list of things I needed in my schedule.  Not one of them was an actual class.

  • I didn't want to take a Monday class, because of all the Monday holidays.
  • I didn't want to take a Friday class, because my kids have several Fridays off for teacher professional development and Parent-Teacher conferences.
  • I wanted morning classes, because my husband can drive the kids to school if I take a 9am class, but I'd have to find a babysitter if I took a 1pm or 6pm class.  

At some point, I know, I'm going to have to take classes that are only offered at one certain time.  But now, I'm still taking the required courses which are offered at multiple times, and I thought I could find classes that met my bizarre requirements.  And I really wanted to take Reference.  Unfortunately, the scheduling just didn't work out.

So, I ended up with 404 - Principles of Management (Wednesday 9am, Andrew can bring the girls to school) and 488- Technology for Information Professionals, which I'm taking online.

I was really hesitant to sign up for an online class.  Part of the reason I was excited about Simmons was the idea of going to class, meeting professors and classmates and having in-person conversations.  But, with an online class I can still pick the kids up at 3pm, and if they're sick or there's a snow day, I can stay home and not worry about missing a lecture or presentation.  Simmons has a March spring break, while my kids have the traditional February and April vacation weeks, so the online class means two fewer times I have to figure out childcare (although I'm sure they'll be watching Frozen for the millionth time while I watch lectures online).  Perhaps most importantly, as my advisor pointed out, I'll likely have a lot of interaction with online learning in the future, both for professional development, and as a librarian instructing patrons, so it's great to experience it as a student now.

I'll let you know how it goes.  And if you have any tips for managing online classes (or, for that matter, managing being in school and having kids), I'd love to hear them.

 

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Just like they said in class!

Yesterday, at work, there was a dilemma.  It was a fairly sticky issue, and had multiple perspectives and points.  (I know, you're rolling your eyes, thinking: what kind of crazy problem could there be in a Children's Department?  Just take my word for it.)  As the librarians debated how to handle the situation, reviewing library policy, professional ethics, and good sense, I said "This is exactly the type of thing we discussed in my 401 class!  I can't believe things the professors teach us actually happen in a real library!"

Actually, I can believe it.  The SLIS program is a professional degree, and the focus is on teaching the skills we need for a particular job.  Our professors know what employers are looking for, and they make sure that we're exposed to the practical, applicable parts of library science.  We learn how to handle problems, use particular skills, and take what we've learned and apply it to different situations.  We are getting a top notch education that can be put to work in the field right away.

Thank you, my first semester professors.  I really appreciate what you taught us this fall, and I look forward to the rest of my classes at SLIS.

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Semester by the Numbers

The end of the semester always makes me think about numbers. The big GPA looming over my head. How much time I spend wasting instead of working on my finals like I should be doing. This week, I decided to do a little bit of calculating and submit for your perusal the important numbers from my semester.

4: The number of classes I took (That's 14 credits. Yes, I might be crazy. No, people usually don't take that many classes.)

29: The number of hours I volunteered at Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School Library.

160 : The approximate number of hours I spent physically sitting in a classroom.

53: The number of books I had on hold at my local library.

101 : The number of books I read (YA, middle grade, beginning readers and picture books).

168 : The number of articles I read.

27, 251 : The number of words in all my papers.

6: The number of presentations I did.

As you can see, it was a lot of work. But it was all so worth it.

All the Best - Hayley

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That's All, Folks! (For Now)

I'm finished!!! I turned in all of my work for the Fall term and did all of my presentations. I think everything went well, but I won't know until I get my grades in a few weeks. Technically, I still have one more week of class for LIS 407 (Reference), but since I gave my presentation last week, I can basically just show up in my pajamas and kick back while other people get stressed out. I won't, but I am enjoying that I could, hypothetically speaking.

My presentation last week, which I gave with four other people, lasted forty minutes and was about PubMed, which is a public medical database run by the National Library of Medicine. A small percentage of our grade depended on how professionally we were dressed during our time in front of the class, so it was pleasantly unusual to see everyone looking so nice. It's not that people in the program are slobs or anything, but around this time of the year, everyone is looking at their laptop and not in the mirror.

I was not, however, pleased with the outcome of the website I designed for 488 (Technology for Information Professionals). Pretty much everyone else's was better than mine. I didn't realize my classmates were going to be so competitive about it, or I would have upped my game. I mean, I always do my best, but some people took "doing your best" to a whole new level by doing things like teaching themselves Java script and using Flash. Um ... this was the class for tech beginners, right?

After class I spent the next 24 hours (with some sleep) re-tooling my CSS design and asking people for help with it. It's a little better now, by which I mean it's not totally embarrassing. Here's a screen cap. of the "About Me" page:

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 2.44.28 PM.png

So what's next? Applying for jobs, deciding if I want to study abroad with UNC in London in May, watching Mockingjay on the big screen, holiday parties and tomfoolery with friends, and then going home to Miami to visit my family for two weeks in mid-December. In short, I'm getting a well-deserved and much-needed break.

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Happy Study-mas!

Well, this is it. The final weeks of the fall semester have finally arrived! Yes that's right, the end is finally in sight; what we see up ahead is the light at the end of the tunnel. Now the only thing standing in our way from kicking off winter break: Finals. 

finals.gif

Ah finals. Like Christmas, finals is that magical time of the year when everyone comes together and collectively moves into the library for a week or two. Instead of putting up decorations and baking cookies, we get to write essays and stand before our peers and present our group projects. While some people eagerly check off the days until their respective winter holiday begins, we'll be busy checking off the number of hours we have before the dropbox on Moodle stops accepting submissions. The season of giving and joy might be upon us, but so is the season of all-nighters, study groups, and the feeling of triumph one feels when everything is finally completed.
I recently researched the month of December just to see what special micro holidays occur throughout the final month of the year. My results included: National Eat a Red Apple Day, National Cookie Day, Miners Day, National Cotton Candy Day, National Cocoa Day,  World Peace Day, Humbug Day, Christmas (of course), Festivus, and (and my personal favorite) National Chocolate-covered Anything Day! While December already had a handful of great holidays to celebrate, I propose that we should add one more day to this list: Study-mas!
 
With a far more cheerier sounding name then 'finals', Study-mas is a winter holiday that can be celebrated in a number of ways for however long a person or group of people wish to observe it. People can observe Study-mas anywhere; at the library, in their homes, in the SLIS Lounge, or wherever else they feel comfortable and, hopefully, academically productive. Food that is traditionally consumed during Study-mas ranges far and wide. Ramen, takeout, muffins, and home-cooked meals are just a handful of dishes that are commonly enjoyed by those who celebrate Study-mas. Gifts are not required but a study group will always appreciate the group member who arrives with a box of cookies or donut holes. And if you are worried about not knowing how to dress during Study-mas, don't sweat it. Pj-bottoms, sweatshirts, snuggies, and whatever else you have in your closet will do just fine. Save your money on a nice holiday dress or suit for some other holiday; Study-mas is a very laid-back and casual sort of holiday. Christmas might represent the season of giving, but Study-mas signifies the season of giving it your all. 
 
This year, I'll be celebrating Study-mas on campus. On whatever days I don't have to work, I'll be somewhere either in the library or the Main Campus Building. I have a few Study-mas traditions that I like to keep up; eating Chinese takeout at least once is a personal favorite of mine. And while I know that everyone deals with finals in their own unique way, there is one tradition related to Study-mas that I think everyone should take part in. This tradition is shockingly simple, and doesn't require any money or decorative skills. All you need to do is take a deep breath, and relax. The tunnel might seem a bit long right now, but just take each day as it comes. In no time at all, you'll be through the tunnel, standing on the other-side, and ready to spend the last few weeks of 2014 with your friends and family.
 
Happy Study-mas everyone, and good luck with finals!

 

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