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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


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


Meeting Connections and Chatting with Friends

   It's early April, and you want to hang out with fellow book lovers. The obvious thing is to go to MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association) on a rainy Sunday. MSLA is a chance for classmates you see in your classes to interact with school library teachers who are your professors, as well as other school librarians in the field. The day started off with an opening keynote on diversity, an issue very big among our community at Simmons and in public schools around the state. Many sessions were offered. I chose the talk on new AASL (American Association of School Librarians) standards, since I am working on creating lessons that align with those standards in my 461 Curriculum and Instructional Strategies class. 

  The instructor of the session on AASL was the former Simmons SLT program manager, from about ten years ago. Half the school librarians in the session were alums of the Simmons SLT program. Throughout the guided exercises at the AASL Standards session, I was able to get good ideas for my future school library, also given the opportunity to network with my fellow librarians.

   During the lunch break, I worked on my interview assignment -- to interview a library teacher who works in a suburb of Boston. This was the best time for my subject, and she was able to introduce me to other librarians in her district. I was able to learn that this library teacher presented at MSLA in 2018 on how she recruits library volunteers, making herself a leader in her field. The time I spent at this conference assured me that Simmons is able to connect me with alums who are currently working in the field through the courses and networking with MSLA. Simmons MLIS is developed with graduating with a job in mind, and I know after attending this conference that there are plenty of Simmons alumni in the Boston area who want to help me be a good school librarian.

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Resources | SLIS | Students | classes | conferences


It's Not Easy Being Green

My senioritis went out the window this week as my schedule really started heating up. I'm currently involved in two group projects: one for my online Metadata class and the other for a conference presentation! Way back in January, Eric Poulin, SLIS West program director and instructor for my User Instruction class, asked me if I'd be interested in presenting at one of the state library conferences with some other students. I said yes, of course, and nothing much happened until last week. Our proposal had been accepted for the Massachusetts Library Association conference to be held on May 21, but then Eric found out (unbeknownst to him) that we were also on the schedule for the Connecticut Library Association conference on April 29! Eek! So now I feel like I'm drowning in virtual group meetings and deadlines and everything is coming up so quickly.

Fortunately, I just taught the last class for my internship this morning so at least that part of my work load is winding down. All told, I taught 8 sessions of EN12 classes (with the same pre-determined lesson plan) and 2 one-shots that I got to plan myself. I found out that I really enjoy teaching (as I suspected) but that the prepping can be time-consuming and stressful. It does get easier the more you do it though. I was never so nervous again as I was for my first time and today I was barely nervous at all! I did a TON of prep for this class though, feeling like I had to compensate for my inexperience and...greenness. During my first one-shot I felt like my inexperience was really showing and so I worked hard to improve that for the second time around, with some success. I have no doubt that experienced instructional librarians can get the same results with much less prep time and stress. You have to work a little extra when you are green.

The next few weeks are going to be intense. On top of all the schoolwork my family is getting ready for a move! We bought a house here in Norwalk and our move-in date is mid-May. Our apartment is going to be listed, so that means keeping the place clean and tidy and starting to pack. I feel exhausted just thinking about it, but I sure am excited for all these big things coming up.

Presentations | Real World | SLIS West | Workload | classes | conferences


Conference Thoughts

So, let's talk about conferences. I knew that librarians had conferences before I came to library school. While I worked at an academic library in Virginia, I went to two of them. One was for the state library association, and the other was some kind of interlibrary-loan specific conference. Somehow this did not prepare me for how many library/archives conferences there would be happening in New England. As library students, we get plenty of emails about them and hear a lot about why we should be attending them. Students are even encouraged to submit papers and be presenters.

Conferences are a great opportunity but they are difficult to attend. Most of them are a good distance from your home, necessitate overnight stay, require missing class or work (and in my case, lots of babysitting), and charge registration fees. Simmons and sponsoring organizations make a good effort to mediate these demands by offering professional development reimbursements, travel awards, and scholarships for students. These efforts are nice but they also require some time and work on the part of the student.

I've been dutifully reading all the conference emails, and I finally found one that looked feasible. It was the joint spring meeting of the New England Archivists (NEA) and Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART). It was being held in New Haven, CT (only 45 minutes from my house!) and the conference was offering reasonable early-bird and student discounts. Thanks to some encouraging emails from our SLIS West program director, I decided to jump on the opportunity.

The conference was this past weekend, and I attended Friday only. Even though I had some reservations about spending an entire extra day away from the kids and sitting through about six hours of educational programming (and then waking up early on Saturday for a full day of class), I was so glad that I went! I spotted some fellow SLIS West folks as soon as I entered the main room, and I did not feel as out-of-place there as I thought I might. It was really nice to just sit back and soak it all in. It's kind of exciting to be in a huge room of strangers and feel like you're with "your people," because everyone there is speaking the same language (of archives).

All of the sessions and speakers were very interesting to me (except for the one on digital preservation which went right over my head), and I came home charged up with good ideas. Those ideas showed up in my life as early as the next day, when I was using them in class. My favorite session was about archiving the web - what a fascinating project! I got a good introduction to it and got to hear from three different web archivists. I'll definitely be thinking about web archiving and looking out for opportunities as I move forward.

Conferences are great for students because they give you an opportunity to learn more about your field in a way that you might not get in class. They give you a glimpse into what's happening right now and afford wonderful networking opportunities. Conferences are difficult to attend, but totally worth it if you can find one close by or apply for financial assistance. 

Librarians | SLIS | SLIS West | conferences


I Am No Charles Schulz

I'm kind of out of words lately. ACRL last week was super fun and awesome, and I highly recommend taking advantage of conferences as much as you can. It's great way to know what other folks are doing across the library land and to get motivation and practical advice for your own role and community. But, I am kind of not functioning at high octane levels right now mind-wise. ACRL and the travel to and from while trying to keep up with my 2 classes (which are awesome but the most work intensive courses I've had my whole grad school time) and settle into my new position at work has left me a little out of articulation energy and wherewithal. So, here's a bad comic I made today to illustrate my current feelings about dealing with Dublin Core- a specific metadata schema- for my digital libraries project with class. 

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PS: don't mistake this post for me grumbling about being stressed/overwhelmed or even about me not loving Dublin Core. I am a bit overwhelmed with school right now, but I also constantly realize that I am bananas lucky to have all the opportunities I have- including to go to grad school and do what I love and the luxury of finding school the most stressful thing in my life right now.

Hasta next week y'all,
Manda

Events | SLIS | classes | conferences